IOWA CITY, Iowa – No one had found a way to stop No. 4 Iowa's offensive attack all season before unranked Indiana did exactly that in a stunning second-half lockdown Thursday night, upsetting the Hawkeyes 81-69 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes, who had won 22 of their past 23 home games, went stone cold in the second half after leading for more than 30 minutes. They scored only six points in a stretch that lasted more than 10 minutes, allowing Indiana to go ahead for good.
And the Hoosiers, who have been struggling from the free throw line all season, made their free throws down the stretch to seal the deal. Senior Al Durham, who finished with 14 points, made 9-of-10 free throws down the stretch.
It was the biggest win in the four-year career of Indiana coach Archie Miller and it came as a complete surprise for the Hoosiers, who were 10.5-point underdogs and looked awful a week ago in a 12-point home loss to Purdue. Their game last Sunday at Michigan State was postponed, and that might have been a blessing for the Hoosiers, who were able to fix several issues with a few extra days of practice.
It was especially important because their season could have crashed and burned in a hurry. Now the Hoosiers are 9-6 overall and 4-4 in the league, and Miller won just his second game on the road against a ranked team in 10 tries at Indiana. Iowa fell to 12-3 and 6-2 in the league.
"This was draw-the-line-in-the-sand time for ourselves, and not about how we were playing in games, but how we were practicing right now," Miller said. "We worked very hard this week. And we were better tonight."
The defensive stretch was impressive. Indiana did a great job of congesting the lane against Garza and were much quicker in getting out on shooters. In the second half, Iowa shot just 26 percent from the field and was 1-for-10 from three. Indiana outscored them 23-3 in a 9-minute stretch.
"We knew we had to pick up our game on the defensive end, and we've been talking about that all week in practice,'' Indiana sophomore Trayce Jackson-Davis said. "We had these extra days to practice and coach (Archie Miller) didn't let up on us. Even being behind there with like eight minutes to go, we just clamped down. Everybody did their part.''
They clamped down on defense despite dealing with foul trouble for their only two bigs, Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson, and still took Iowa out of everything they were trying to do.
Indiana freshman Anthony Leal hit a three-pointer to tie the game 53-53 with 8:38 to go, and Indiana never looked back. Sophomore guard Armaan Franklin, who was battling back from an ankle injury that forced him to miss two-plus games, hit a contested three-pointer from the corner to put Indiana ahead 60-55.
Jordan Geronimo, a 6-foot-6 freshman who was forced to bottle up Garza despite give up five inches, forced a turnover and then dunked on the other end to give Indiana a 62-55 lead with 4:40 to go. After a Garza free throw, Thompson threw a perfect interior pass to Jerome Hunter and he scored and was fouled.
It came down to free throws down the stretch, and Indiana, which had been struggling at the charity stripe for weeks, closed it out with Rob Phinisee making two and then Al Durham making 9-of-10 free throws.
"You've got to give a lot of credit to our perimeter guys. They really shut them down defensively,'' Miller said. "And you have to give a lot of credit to Al for knocking down those free throws, especially after we were having a rough night from the line.''
Iowa didn't have its usual red-hot perimeter game on Thursday night against Indiana. They came into the game on a five-game winning streak where they were averaging 10 made threes a game.
Iowa hit three of its first five three-pointers to grab an early lead, but then made only 1 of their next 12 from deep. For the game, they finished just 5-for-23 from long range, their lowest total of the year.
Joe Wieskamp, who became the 50th Iowa player to score 1,000 points last week, had three early three-pointers, but in the second half, Wieskamp and fellow guards Jordan Bohannon and Connor McCaffrey combined to score just one point in 51 minutes. Miller had a lot of praise for Durham, Franklin and Rob Phinisee for their defensive effort. Phinisee also had 18 points.
"Rob [Phinisee] maybe had one of the best defensive performances of his college career, to be honest with you,'' Miller said. "For the amount of minutes he played, he was unbelievable on the ball."
Indiana, which won its first game against a top-four team since beating then-No. 3 North Carolina on Nov. 30, 2016, played without freshman guard Trey Galloway, who missed the game with a back injury. He tweaked it during the Purdue game a week ago and he hasn't responded well to treatment all week.
Geronimo stepped up in a big way and had "the best game of his career tonight," Miller said. He frustrated Garza in the post and got help when he needed it, and he contributed on the offensive end, too, scoring seven points. "He was guarding Luka Garza, and he did as well as anyone on the team."
Iowa's game with Nebraska on Sunday has been postponed because of COVID-19 issues inside the Cornhuskers' program, so the Hawkeyes won't play until Jan. 29 at Illinois. Indiana is home against Rutgers on Sunday.