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Lack of Winning Mentality Costs IU Again, Drops Head Scratcher 96-90 at Iowa

Iowa City, IA – It’s becoming repetitive with this Indiana Hoosiers team. Play well for stretches during the course of a game, then play bad to allow their opponent back in it. But, they always answer and hold their own until winning time in the end. This happened last week at Minnesota and again the week prior against Purdue. Indiana held leads late in each game only to allow the other team to come back and win when it counts in the end. That has happened in most games this year. These players lack the will to win mentality.

Tonight in Iowa City, same story, same result.

Indiana held a 15 point lead at one point and dominated most of this game. You wouldn’t know it though as they allowed Iowa to hang in long enough and finally take their first lead with just 2:10 left in the entire game. Indiana led for 35:13 prior to that.

But, Iowa (15-13, 7-8 Big 10) held on for a 96-90 overtime victory over Indiana in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in another demoralizing defeat for the Hoosiers.

IU, actually held a 66-58 lead with 4:46 left in the game and somehow allowed Iowa to storm back. The Hawkeyes would go on a 12-4 run to tie it at 70 and the game would seesaw from there. The Hoosiers (15-13, 5-10 Big 10) gave up 38 points over the final nine total minutes of the game (Last 4:46 in regulation, five minutes in overtime).

Josh Newkirk hit two big free throws with 25-seconds to go in regulation to tie the game at 75 as we’d go to overtime from there.

Overtime was sloppy for IU. They had three turnovers in the first three minutes of overtime and sent Iowa to the line for 16 free throw attempts. In fact, the refs were whistle happy favoring Iowa calling Indiana on 35 fouls compared to Iowa’s 22 and seeing Iowa shoot 47 free throws to IU’s 19.

Indiana though, started the game hot in taking an early 9-0 lead just 2:06 into the game itself. Newkirk had seven of those nine points as IU forced an early Iowa timeout. In fact, just four minutes into the game, Iowa had already played 12 different players.

IU was frustrating Iowa in everything the Hawkeyes wanted to do while IU jumped out to 9-for-14 shooting and led by double digits. The lead blossomed to 17-4 with just under five minutes of game action. It then was 24-12 just prior to the midway mark of the opening half.

But, Indiana reverted back to their same old problems to close out the half, finishing the first half an abysmal 4-for-15 from the field. That allowed Iowa to go on a 14-2 run at one point to tie the game at 26. IU would answer going on a 7-0 themselves before allowing Iowa to answer back to close the half on a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to just a one point IU lead at the half (33-32).

Basically, the first half saw IU go on a 9-0 run as well as a 7-0 run but allow Iowa to still trail by just one point at halftime.

The game was an ugly three point shooting game as both teams combined to shoot 15-for-53 from behind the arc. Indiana was 10-for-29 while Iowa was 5-for-24. Mix that with 57 fouls called and 39 combined turnovers (22 IU, 17 Iowa), and you can see why this was an ugly game.

Robert Johnson led IU with 19 points while James Blackmon Jr. and Newkirk added 18 and 11 points respectively. Thomas Bryant added 12 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double tonight.

Indiana, losers of five straight, play their final home game of the season against a struggling Northwestern Wildcats team on Saturday (8 p.m. ET/BTN/93.1-WIBC FM) in Assembly Hall. Northwestern appears to be NCAA Tournament bound for the first time ever, as they’ve reached 20 wins on the season. But, the Wildcats have lost four of their last six games heading into Bloomington this weekend including two of those four losses coming against Illinois.

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