It’s really no secret to winning in March.
Iowa’s 62-57 win over Wisconsin in Friday’s Big Ten tournament quarterfinal in Indianapolis was what the month brings.
Artistry isn’t a requirement.
“It was ugly,” said guard Jordan Bohannon. “I’m not going to lie to you.”
The Hawkeyes were just 2-of-20 in 3-pointers — think about that statistic for a minute, considering the way they’ve shot the ball all season — but won a game when they scored under 70 points for the first time this season.
“We took care of business,” coach Fran McCaffery said, and really, that’s what you do.
The Hawkeyes held Wisconsin to just 1-of-10 shooting over the last 9:21. They didn’t have a turnover in the second half. They had nine offensive rebounds after just three in the first half.
“We really came out with an edge on ourselves, that we had something to prove in the second half,” said Bohannon, who had all 11 of his points in the second half, five days after scoring all 16 of his points in the second half of a 77-73 win over the Badgers in the regular-season finale.
“I thought our defense coming down the stretch was really locked in,” McCaffery said. “Very impressive defensive effort against a really good team.”
Iowa has won eight of its last nine games — a stretch that included a three-game season sweep of the Badgers — with a stifling defense that you need when the season becomes a crucible. Wisconsin shot 30.8 percent and committed seven turnovers in the second half.
“We’ve really locked down in the last month or so,” Bohannon said.
Lucas Oil Stadium had to have looked like a cavern to the Hawkeyes in the first half. They were 0-of-10 in 3-pointers, and they went scoreless in the final 3:39, committing five turnovers and missing two shots in that stretch. Outside of Luka Garza, who had 18 of his game-high 24 points in the first half, no one was scoring.
“I thought in the first half we missed 17 shots, only got three back, and we had eight turnovers,” McCaffery said. “It’s going to be hard to beat Wisconsin doing that.”
That edge that Bohannon talked about in the second half proved to be the difference.
Joe Wieskamp, questionable all week after spraining his ankle in Sunday’s game, scored 10 points in 35 minutes of play.
“I was living in the training room, icing it non-stop,” Wieskamp said. “It was going to take a lot to hold me out of this.”
Wieskamp’s layup with 3:01 to play put Iowa up 54-52, then he added a second drive 26 seconds later for a four-point edge.
“He stepped up in big-time moments today,” Bohannon said.
The Hawkeyes, the No. 3 seed, get second-seeded Illinois in Saturday’s afternoon semifinals. It’s the first time an Iowa team has reached the semifinals since 2006.
The Hawkeyes didn’t take long to get out of the post-game press conference.
They needed the rest.
Which is fine.
You take what you can, and then run, when it’s March.