COLUMBUS, Ohio — This was nearly the sweetest comeback in Iowa men's basketball history.
Heck, the history of this whole blessed NCAA Tournament.
But the Hawkeyes saw their season end Sunday with an 83-77 overtime loss to second-seeded Tennessee in the second round of the tournament at Nationwide Arena.
The Hawkeyes spotted Tennessee a 25-point lead and then burst out of the halftime locker room with a determined blitz that stopped the Volunteers in their tracks.
Forward Tyler Cook led the way for the 10th-seeded Hawkeyes (23-12) by scoring the first 11 points of the second half and assisting on two more baskets.
Suddenly, Iowa had life.
Jordan Bohannon hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 61-56. Isaiah Moss beat the shot clock with an amazing corner 3-pointer to make it 65-64.
Bohannon made three free throws to tie the score 67-67. Joe Wieskamp, a freshman, made the two free throws that forced overtime.
Tennessee (31-5) scored the first seven points of the extra session, however, the biggest shot a Jordan Bone deep 3-pointer just as the shot clock expired.
Iowa had finally run out of gas. The largest comeback in tournament history by a winning team remains the 25 points BYU overcame in a 2012 First Four game.
The Hawkeyes were valiant and brilliant for 20 minutes. But that's not enough on this stage. They fall short of a Sweet 16 berth that has eluded the program since 1999.
Fifth-ranked Tennessee advances to play Purdue on Thursday in Louisville.
Bohannon led Iowa with 18 points. Moss added 16. Luka Garza scored 13 and Cook and Wieskamp had 11 apiece.
It was a team effort that created the deficit and a team effort that nearly made history.
► Leistikow's First Thoughts: One of the greatest comebacks in Hawkeye history falls short
For the second consecutive game here, Iowa dug itself a big hole early, unable to keep pace with Tennessee’s quicker athletes. The Volunteers raced to a 20-9 lead before the Hawkeyes could even record an assist.
Iowa had fallen behind 18-5 against Cincinnati on Friday before rallying for a 79-72 first-round win.
Tennessee got 12 points off of eight Hawkeye turnovers in the first half, and outscored them 7-0 in fast-break points. Forward Admiral Schofield scored 17 points, including 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range.
Iowa trailed 49-28 at halftime, the only bright spots a pair of 3-pointers from Bohannon and Moss. Bohannon’s second was the 263rd of his career, passing Jeff Horner for most in program history. He is just a junior.
Cook, the team’s leading scorer at 14.6 points per game, continued to struggle on this stage. He missed all five of his shot attempts and was held scoreless in the first half. He was 1-for-9 in Friday’s 79-72 win over Cincinnati.
That changed in a hurry after intermission. Cook was determined to put up a fight. His teammates followed his lead, right till the bitter end.
Cook tested the NBA draft process a year ago and has indicated he intends to do so again. The junior may have played his final game as a Hawkeye. Iowa’s lone senior was reserve forward Nicholas Baer, who had four points in his swan song.