CJ Fredrick wasn’t about to make excuses.
Iowa’s 102-95 loss at Minnesota on Friday night was one that the sophomore guard thought was a gift.
“We gave it away,” Fredrick said. “We had this game won. That’s why this hurts.
“I think we just gave that one away.”
The Hawkeyes (7-2 overall, 1-1 Big Ten) led 80-73 with 44 seconds left in the second half, then watched the Gophers (8-1, 1-1) tie it with a furious finish completed by a step-back 3-pointer from Marcus Carr with five seconds remaining.
Then, in overtime, Minnesota’s Brandon Johnson hit all four of his 3-point attempts to finish off the Hawkeyes.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery ran through the checklist of what his team needs to do.
“Gotta be tougher,” he said. “Gotta me more connected. Gotta be ready at the start. A lot of things. We just have to be better. We weren’t ready tonight.”
Iowa trailed by as much as 12 points in the first half to lead by as much as nine points in the second half.
But the Hawkeyes, who gave up 55 points in Tuesday’s win over Purdue, allowed Minnesota to hit 17 3-pointers.
“Our defense tonight was unacceptable,” McCaffery said.
“Seventeen threes is a lot of points, so that’s where that comes from,” said Iowa center Luka Garza, who led the Hawkeyes with 32 points and 17 rebounds. “We were terrible defensively the entire game, and we had it won.”
Carr finished with 30 points. Johnson, who was averaging just six points per game and was 2-of-10 in 3-pointers coming in, had 26 points on 8-of-9 shooting in threes.
“Johnson was open — there’s no excuse for that,” McCaffery said. “He hasn’t made 8-for-9. I think we have to do a better job of adjusting to a guy who gets hot. And we did not. So that’s disappointing.”
“Once a guy gets going, you’ve got to adjust,” Fredrick said. “It doesn’t matter what his percentage is. He was feeling it, and we let him get too comfortable.
“At this level, once you hit two, three, four in a row, you’ve got to adjust. He’s hot. He had too many open looks. We had to adjust, and we didn’t.”
Iowa was up 83-80 when Joe Toussaint missed two free throws with 14 seconds left. Carr was able to break free with a screen on the right side, and his line-drive 3-pointer tied the game.
Johnson’s 3-pointer 13 seconds into the overtime started his run. He had all of his points in the first 3:15, and Minnesota was up 95-88.
“In overtime, we let a guy shoot the same shot over and over again,” Garza said. “You can’t do that.”
Garza had just five points on 2-of-11 shooting in the first half, but Iowa only trailed 38-33 at halftime.
“In the first half, I was just missing layups,” said Garza, who extended his streak of 20 or more points in Big Ten games to 18 while recording the 25th double-double of his career. “They did a good job of crowding me, but I’ve seen that all before. I was just missing easy shots, shots I normally make. So I was frustrated. The way I look at it, I was missing layups, and I have to be better for my team.”
Fredrick finished with a career-high 23 points. Joe Wieskamp had 14.
The Hawkeyes play host to Northwestern on Tuesday, and McCaffery knows his team has work to do on defense.
“It’s something I think we have to figure out,” he said. “We have to be better than that. Our defense has to be better.