IOWA CITY − It’s not even halfway through January and only 30% of the way into the Big Ten Conference season, the vision of this Iowa basketball team is becoming clear.
These are the children too. No defect seems too great. Yes, they have had their ups and downs. And they will have it route later some time. But this collection of players, win or lose, will play hard for the entire 40 minutes. And sometimes 45.
The Hawkeyes bounced back with an impressive finish in regulation Friday night, then won five minutes into overtime to beat visiting Michigan, 93-84, in front of 11,498. fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“It just shows the fight we have in our team,” said Kris Murray, who played every second of this fast-paced, high-octane contest but never tired of getting points. 27. “Wisconsin, Indiana, and Penn State … showed how tough we are. We’re never going to go down without a fight.
Three Big Ten home games, which means the Hawkeyes may have made those who left the field early to win the cars regret that decision.
Against Wisconsin in the Big Ten opener on Dec. seconds – to force a long time at 60-60 before falling by 3.
Against Indiana on Jan. 5: Down by 21 points in the first half and down 84-78 with 3½ minutes left, the Hawkeyes came back to steal a 91-89 win.
And now we can add Friday’s performance to the return count.
Michigan was in the red for most of the night, hitting 14-of-25 3-pointers in regulation. The opposing team doesn’t usually win in those situations. But Iowa committed six turnovers for the game. He got the necessary contributions from Murray and unused players Josh Dix (10 points, five assists) and Riley Mulvey (4 points, 13 minutes) to stay in the distance. . And he leaned on the team’s rising star, Payton Sandfort, at last.
Michigan led, 77-70, with a possession with two minutes left. But Sandfort stole the ball from Jett Howard, and Filip Rebraca’s bucket with 1:46 remaining cut the lead to 5.
After Iowa’s best possession of the game forced Michigan’s Kofe Bufkin to go out of bounds, Sandfort buried a game-high 3-pointer with 1:03 left to make it 77. -75.
More:It looks like Payton Sandfort’s fall is over. It adds another element to Iowa basketball
Bufkin delayed the screaming Carver crowd with a bucket to make it 79-75 with 29 seconds to go, and obviously … Iowa had to make no mistake to get back within. That’s because Sandfort drove to the top of the key, quickly dropped a 3 and was fouled by Bufkin. Swish, as he fell to the ground. Then, with the stadium quiet and all the pressure on him, Sandfort calmly buried the free throw to make it 79 with 20.7 seconds left. Dix had a block at the end of regulation, and this one went into overtime.
“I came off the pin and I saw him in my lap. I knew we had to get up quickly,” said Sandfort about his 4-point game. “Then it was taken out.”
“Well, you could say that,” Sandfort said with a laugh. “Just in time.”
Teammates love Sandfort. She lights up a room with her smile. Murray said there was no player he was more excited about than Sandfort, who was 0-for-19 from the floor in Big Ten play before this game to make it three Big Ten victories in eight days. passed away. He scored 22 points in 22 minutes in Sunday’s wire-to-wire win at Rutgers. (See, Iowa isn’t always the same have got play from behind.)
And he poured in 24 of his career-high 26 points against the Wolverines after being subbed out with 17:40 left in the second half, following coach Fran McCaffery’s frustration. in his team’s defense and time is called.
From Kennington Smith:Good news came out of Iowa’s OT win
Iowa was down 51-44, at the time. The Hawkeyes continued to grind, while Michigan’s Jett Howard (34 points) seemed unstoppable as they also tried to contain star center Hunter Dickinson (13 points, 12 rebounds but six turnovers). shooting and four turns).
Sandfort’s time, in this case.
He started the new picture by continuing to get open, even though Michigan was very aware of all his efforts. He drained a jumper with his signature fast-break layup to give Iowa one of its smallest leads of the night to that point, 81-79. After a few trips, with Iowa in 3, he made the play of the game. Or the game’s gun, you might say.
Murray hit a right wing 3. Sandfort joked that he was going to run that way to celebrate after a Murray 3. But on this one, he saw the ball go up and went. on the rebound. While in the air, Sandfort caught the ball and threw the ball to the basket in one movement.
Outside the glass, he drew another foul and made a free throw for an 85-79 lead. The Carver fans now know the home team is pulling this one out.
“I was motivated by that,” Murray said. “And it’s the right place, the right time. … I don’t know if he saw the basket, really.
Did it happen?
Yes, Sandfort agrees. It was a blind shot. (Hey, when you’re hot, you’re hot.)
“I saw him flying in the air,” Sandfort said, “and went up and tried to play on it.”
What McCaffery liked about Sandfort’s performance Thursday was that he did more than just score. He had seven rebounds and three assists. It’s especially important with Patrick McCaffery missing his third straight game as he deals with anxiety issues. Sandfort filled his teammate’s void, and then some, after a struggling first season.
More:Leistikow: Why Patrick McCaffery made his ‘brave’ decision to return
“Everybody loves him. He is a good teammate. It’s good,” said Fran McCaffery. “We’re all getting on with it. When she cooks, it really improves other people’s energy levels.
There is something to that.
The shot that broke Sandfort’s 0-for-19 streak? It came as Iowa was down 23-4 in the first quarter against Indiana. The Hawkeyes were 0-3 in the Big Ten at the time and lost badly at home. They are on a string, probably for the season.
But Sandfort came off the bench and hit a 3-pointer to cut it to 23-7. A bucket that doesn’t seem like it. But little by little, the Hawkeyes chipped away and won that game. Sandfort’s confidence grew. So is the company. The NCAA Tournament is within reach.
“We’ve got a lot of swagger that we’ve never had before,” Murray said. “Guys are playing well, feeding off each other. The chemistry is good. This is a team that never lost faith, even when we went on a little skid.
We’ve learned a lot about what this team is like over the last eight days. Now, the Hawkeyes (11-6 overall 3-3 Big) need to muster the energy to keep going. They have two home games on the schedule: 3:30 pm Sunday vs. Maryland, then 8 p.m. Wednesday vs. Northwestern. Murray thought the place was full on Sunday.
“Getting back to .500 in the conference. I mean, a week and a half ago, everybody was in the dumps,” Sandfort said. “We were down 28-7 against Indiana. now. We have to keep rolling. It’s only one game, but it’s great.
Hawkeyes columnist Chad Leistikow has covered sports for 28 years with The Des Moines Register, USA TODAY and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Follow @ChadLeistikow on Twitter.