BLOOMINGTON — Iowa coach Fran McCaffery thought his team had a winning plan Saturday night.
The Hawkeyes played defense and shut down the Hoosiers' outside shooters. But they struggled to score and take care of the basketball.
A 14-turnover, 14-point first half doomed Iowa's hopes as the Hoosiers held on for a 73-60 victory.
"If I said to you, we come on the road, we're going to turn it over 14 times, get outrebounded and score 14 points in the first half, you'd think it was going to be a blowout," McCaffery said. "We were right there. So that shows you what this team is capable of."
For the moment, this loss is yet another blow to the Hawkeyes' tourney hopes.
Indiana coach Tom Crean was so impressed with Iowa's effort, he was already lobbying for the Hawkeyes (18-11, 7-9 Big Ten) for an at-large bid.
"If you're going to have the best league in the country, then certain teams should get an exclusion from the bubble and Iowa is one of them," Crean said. "No one wants to play them in March."
Including the Hoosiers, who needed 22 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks from Cody Zeller just to survive this game.
Iowa was led by Roy Devyn Marble, who scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half. Aaron White added 14 points and seven rebounds, while Eric May had 12 points and seven rebounds, but it wasn't quite enough to dig out of that first-half hole.
"I wouldn't call it a freeze out," McCaffery said. "I would call it a really good defensive effort by a terrific defensive team."
Zeller was not going to let himself or his team get pushed around on his home court. Wearing blood-spotted shorts, courtesy of a second-half cut to the chin, the 7-foot sophomore kept going to the basket, drawing fouls and willing the Hoosiers to a victory that kept them atop the Big Ten standings.