Iowa takeaways: 3s don't fall, defense is great for a half, Cook's flurry goes for naught

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Jordan Bohannon put up his first 3-point attempt Thursday, saw the basketball nestle into the cylinder and then spurt out.

Iowa’s point guard experienced some déjà vu on his second try.

“I thought for sure the first one was definitely in,” Bohannon said later. “The second one felt even better than the first one.”

It was one of the storylines of the night as the No. 21 Hawkeyes fell to No. 5 Michigan State 82-67 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. One game after making 15-of-21 3-pointers in a blowout win over lowly Illinois, the Hawkeyes mustered a mere 5-for-24 against the best team in the Big Ten Conference.

Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon (right) dives for a loose ball against Michigan State's Thomas Kithier in the first half Thursday. Bohannon came up with the ball, to the delight of the Carver-Hawkeye Arena crowd.

Bohannon did swish one from the arc late in the first half to give Iowa a 32-29 lead. But it was the only one he made in seven attempts. He finished with three points, his lowest output in a conference game this season.

Shooting guard Isaiah Moss missed both of his 3s and ended up with two points, tied for his lowest total this winter. The previous time Moss was held to two was in Iowa’s only other home loss, against Wisconsin.

Small forward Joe Wieskamp went 1-for-5 from long distance one game after making all six of his attempts.

Iowa made only one of its 11 3-point attempts in the second half, when the Spartans took control. The Hawkeyes enjoyed a 40-28 advantage in points in the paint. The perimeter players couldn’t hold up their end.

“I thought we were getting looks, honestly. Nowhere were we rushing any,” Bohannon said. “We got a lot of kick-out 3s I thought were going to go in, especially in the first half.”

It was bad timing for a poor shooting night.

Iowa's transition defense at its best … for a half

The Hawkeyes led 35-31 at halftime thanks in large part to some fantastic defense. They knew going into the game that they would be tested by Michigan State’s relentless transition game. The Spartans lead the Big Ten in scoring because of a commitment to running right at opponents off of turnovers, missed shots or made baskets. Michigan State blistered Iowa 90-68 in the teams’ first meeting.

On Thursday, the Spartans managed only two fast-break points in the first half.

“We turned them into a half-court team,” Bohannon said. “That was our goal.

“That was probably the best we’d done in transition all year.”

Hawkeye junior forward Tyler Cook agreed.

“I think we were just locked in on making sure we got back and walled off, first of all their guards, and then picking up their bigs,” Cook said. “Because their bigs run to the rim every single time.”

Bohannon was able to read Michigan State’s offensive plays well enough to deflect a couple of passes in the first half. Iowa forced 10 turnovers to earn that four-point lead.

He also made the play that got the loudest response from the crowd of 14,416. A loose ball that all 10 players on the court went after rolled out near center court and appeared to be secured by the Spartans’ Thomas Kithier. Bohannon, in a group of four players on the ground, reached over to grab it away long enough to call timeout.

“It was a hustle play, just whoever wanted it more,” Bohannon said. “It’s just another night in the Big Ten. That’s what’s going to be for the rest of the season. For us to want to make the NCAA Tournament and a deep run, that’s the kind of plays we’ll need to have.”

In the second half, Michigan State wanted it more. The Spartans broke loose for 15 fast-break points, eventually breaking the Hawkeyes’ will.

Cook takes over for a stretch, but with a cost

Iowa came out of intermission intent on feeding the ball to Cook. The Hawkeyes scored 15 points in the first 4 minutes. Cook had 11 of them, going to his right hand for a series of short hook shots and layups.

“In the first half, I missed shots I make 99 percent of the time,” said Cook, who had only four points at halftime. “I made them in the first few minutes of the second half. I wish I could have kept it going.”

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo praised his counterpart, Fran McCaffery, for surprising the Spartans with the steady diet of low-post shots. He also joked that his team was making it so easy on Cook that even the diminutive Izzo could have converted on those looks.

Cook missed his next four shots, a couple of jumpers from outside the paint and two other close-range shots in which he was forced to go to his left hand. His lone remaining field goal was a dunk with 2 minutes, 13 seconds left, long after the outcome was decided.

“I didn’t take a shot (Thursday) that I didn’t feel like was going to go in,” said Cook, who made 8-of-17.

Bohannon said an unintended consequence of Cook’s flurry of points was that the rest of the offense became stagnant. The Hawkeyes scored only 13 points in the 15 minutes after Cook provided them with their largest lead, at 50-42.

“I think we could have done a better job moving. Especially when you throw it down to TC, there was a lot of standing,” Bohannon said. “I think that’s something we can learn. When we throw it in to TC, we need to move off the ball a little better.

“It’s tough, because we don’t want to get in his way, obviously. He’s such a great player and he can create a lot of stuff.”