BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Fran McCaffery has been hoping to get a consistent, sustained 40-minute effort out of his Iowa basketball team one of these nights.
He’s still waiting.
On Monday, he got maybe 18 minutes. At the most.
The Hawkeyes played well for the first 11 minutes of the game and the first seven of the second half, but were thoroughly outplayed and outhustled for most of the rest of the game in going down to a 74-61 loss to Indiana at the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
The loss is the Hawkeyes’ fifth in the past six games and leaves them at the bottom of the Big Ten standings after the opening weekend of conference play.
“We’re just not playing hard enough at both ends of the floor,’’ said sophomore point guard Jordan Bohannon, who had more turnovers (five) than assists (four) and was benched at the start of the second half. “In spurts we’re really good on offense and in spurts we’re really good on defense. It was another inconsistent game for us.’’
Brady Ellingson, who spearheaded a charge at the outset of the second half, agreed that “we just need to play a little harder.
“We have defensive breakdowns and you can’t just let it affect us that way …’’ Ellingson said.
“We know we’re better than this,’’ he added. “Give credit to Indiana. They’re really good in transition. They’re a good team and it’s tough to play here. We just need to battle through adversity a little better.’’
Two prolonged offensive droughts by Iowa, one in each half, were more than enough for the Hoosiers to give new coach Archie Miller his first Big Ten victory. Indiana (5-4, 1-1 Big Ten) scored 14 straight points near the end of the first half, then reeled off 18 in a row in the middle of the second half.
With his team on the verge of being blown out at halftime, McCaffery decided to send a powerful message. He took three players who have started every game — Bohannon, Isaiah Moss and Luka Garza — and plopped them on the bench to start the second half.
For awhile, it paid dividends. Ellingson and freshman Jack Nunge led a spirited charge that brought the Hawkeyes to within a single point just four minutes into the half. Ellingson scored eight points in that stretch and slipped a pass to Tyler Cook for a layup that made it 43-42.
The Hawkeyes (4-5, 0-2) still were hanging close at 53-50 when they hit their second mega-drought. They missed nine straight shots and mixed in four turnovers as Indiana zoomed out to an insurmountable 71-50 lead.
In the first half, the Hawkeyes missed eight straight shots and turned the ball over six times in a spell that turned a 20-20 tie into a 34-20 Indiana lead.
At the end of the half, Bohannon committed a turnover and freshman Aljami Durham outraced everyone to the other end for a layup that made it 41-26 as the half ended.
McCaffery said that was why he sat the three starters to open the second half.
“That’s unacceptable,’’ he said. “We didn’t execute and then we didn’t run back.’’
Bohannon, who has struggled to cope with very physical, aggressive defenses in recent games, said he got what he deserved.
“I wasn’t playing hard enough obviously,’’ he said. “If those guys hadn’t done what they did at the start of the second half, we would have lost by 30. They played their butts off and they deserved to play.’’
Ellingson, who had not scored in five consecutive games dating back to the first half of a Nov. 16 game with Grambling State, led Iowa with 16 points. He has been backing up Bohannon at the point but shifted over to play his more natural position of shooting guard with sophomore Maishe Dailey manning the point.
Those two combined for eight assists and did not have any of the Hawkeyes’ 18 turnovers. Nunge, making his second career start in his home state, added 12 points and six rebounds and also did not have a turnover.
But the Hawkeyes shot just 38.5 percent from the field — 29.1 before halftime — and matched a season high with 18 turnovers.
McCaffery said the offensive inefficiency is largely the product of players trying to do too much on their own and stifling any sort of ball movement. He mentioned Bohannon, Cook and Moss specifically.
“There’s a right way and there’s a wrong way and our decision making in that area hasn’t been good,’’ McCaffery said.
But the other big factor clearly is a lack of a sustained intensity level.
“We’ve just got to play with more intensity,’’ Dailey said. “I think we play with a chip on our shoulder once we get hit. I think we’ve got to come to start the game with that chip on our shoulder.’’
Iowa’s next game is Thursday on the road at Iowa State. Game time is 7 p.m. with television coverage provided by ESPN2.
Indiana 77, Iowa 64
IOWA (4-5, 0-2) — Cook 4-8 0-0 9, Garza 3-4 0-2 6, Nunge 4-8 2-2 12, Moss 1-5 0-0 2, Bohannon 2-8 1-2 7, Wagner 2-8 0-0 4, Pemsl 1-4 0-1 2, Baer 1-3 0-0 3, Uhl 0-1 0-0 0, Ellingson 6-9 1-2 16, Dailey 1-7 0-0 3. Totals 25-65 4-9 64.
INDIANA (5-4, 1-1) — Morgan 6-9 3-4 15, Davis 5-11 3-9 13, Johnson 2-9 4-4 9, Newkirk 2-5 1-2 6, Durham 3-7 0-0 7, Smith 0-4 0-0 0, McSwain 0-1 0-0 0, Moore 0-1 0-0 0, Hartman 4-9 2-2 13, Priller 0-0 0-0 0, Jager 0-0 0-0 0, Green 4-8 2-2 12, McRoberts 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 27-66 15-23 77.
Halftime—Indiana 41-26. 3-point goals—Iowa 10-24 (Ellingson 3-4, Nunge 2-4, Bohannon 2-6, Cook 1-1, Baer 1-3, Dailey 1-4, Wagner 0-1, Moss 0-1), Indiana 8-21 (Hartman 3-6, Green 2-4, Newkirk 1-1, Durham 1-3, Johnson 1-6, Morgan 0-1). Fouled out—none. Rebounds—Iowa 37 (Nunge 6), Indiana 45 (Morgan 10). Assists—Iowa 17 (Bohannon, Ellingson, Dailey 4), Indiana 14 (Green 4). Total fouls—Iowa 20, Indiana 16.