IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa opened the Big Ten with an encouraging effort against fifth-ranked Indiana, which many think might win the league in 2013.
But the Hawkeyes didn't finish the job against the Hoosiers, instead letting a huge opportunity at home to slip away.
Cody Zeller had 15 of his 19 points in the second half and fifth-ranked Indiana opened Big Ten play by holding off Iowa 69-65 on Monday night.
Victor Oladipo scored 14 points for the Hoosiers (13-1, 1-0 Big Ten), who snapped a four-game losing streak in Iowa City and have now won four straight since losing to Butler two weeks ago.
Oladipo beat the shot clock with a putback with 1:04 left to put the Hoosiers ahead 65-60. He also made two key free throws with 26 seconds to go to make it a two-possession game.
Aaron White had 15 points to lead Iowa (11-3, 0-1), which might have pulled off the upset had it shot better than 3 of 17 from 3-point range and 23.5 percent overall in the first half.
Iowa's Zach McCabe also missed a 3 that would have tied it at 65-all with under a minute left, and Oladipo sealed the win at the line.
"I thought offensively, it was a struggle early on. And that's -- you know, that's a credit to Indiana. They played hard; they fought; they got up into us," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. They played hard; they fought; they got up into us, and they were the reason we shot 24 percent."
The Hawkeyes had all kinds of trouble knocking down shots from everywhere in the first half. But they buried nine of their first 10 after the break to inch within 48-46 of Indiana, keeping the high-powered Hoosiers offense from building an insurmountable cushion.
But even though Indiana later went without a field goal for nearly five minutes, the Hawkeyes couldn't muster enough offense to retake the lead.
Devyn Marble, Iowa's leading scorer, had an awful afternoon from the field. He was just 1 of 14 shooting and bricked a 3 after Oladipo's key putback.
"Not a textbook win, but very few of them are this time of year. And we'll look back at this one and say this really helped us because Iowa's going to have a great season," Indiana coach Tom Crean said.
Indiana's recent four-game losing streak at Iowa was indicative of its recent struggles, especially since the Hawkeyes hadn't been all that great during that stretch either.
It's been quite a while since Indiana brought a team this deep and this talented to Iowa City.
Still, it took nearly 12 minutes for Zeller, the leading scorer for the nation's best offense, to find the basket. He did so on a dunk — then went through 7-foot-1 Iowa freshman Adam Woodbury to put Indiana up 19-16 on the next possession. That came during a 10-0 Hoosiers run that sent fiery Hawkeyes coach Fran McCaffery through the roof.
A pair of tough baskets off drives by freshman Yogi Ferrell — who had nine points, seven rebounds and four assists — helped the Hoosiers to a 33-25 halftime lead.
"We did not have a great day shooting the ball. But the bottom line is that we defended, we rebounded, we overcame decision-making," Crean said.
Iowa had three freshman starters make their Big Ten debuts; guards Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons and Woodbury. All three appear to have bright futures in the league, but their first afternoon in the Big Ten resulted in a loss.
Gesell finished with 13 points and Woodbury had four points and eight rebounds in his first tussle with Zeller.
I thought they handled it extremely well. All of our freshmen — yeah, they made some mistakes. But what they all showed was ability to play through those mistakes. I think that's critical for young players," McCaffery said.