On a night in which they honored his memory, Iowa's spirited play continued making Wisconsin's recent series dominance a thing in the past.
Showing none of the intangibles that led them to a win over No.2 Indiana Tuesday in the first half, Wisconsin's late rally proved futile after an ugly first half, allowing Iowa to register a 70-66 victory at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
After winning 13 of 15 games in the series, Wisconsin (13-5, 4-1 Big Ten) has dropped three straight meetings to Iowa, the latest causing the Badgers to fall a half game behind Michigan State in the win column for first place in the Big Ten. The Badgers host the Spartans Tuesday and can ill afford to have the kind of start it did against the Hawkeyes.
Starting 1-for-12 from the field, including 0-for-5 from its three senior forwards, Wisconsin shot 6-for-26 (23.1 percent) from the field in the first half. Held to a season-low 18 points before intermission, Ben Brust and Sam Dekker were the only two players who made two buckets in the first half. It was so ugly that the Badgers had more turnovers (eight) than made field goals.
"We can't afford to dig ourselves into holes like that and get down by 20 points," said senior Jared Berggren. "You can't do that, especially on the road. You're putting yourself in a terrible position to try to win a game. We did pretty much everything wrong in the first half. It's just too much to overcome in the second."
Four days after its seniors carried the load in Bloomington, UW's three starting seniors went 8-of-21 from the floor, 21 points and 13 fouls. Ryan Evans finished with six points, ending his run of 16 straight conference games with 10 points or more.
"I definitely take that to heart," said Berggren, who led the seniors with just eight points. "(We) didn't do a good job tonight of contributing to my team. Especially on the road it's tough."
George Marshall scored all of his career-high 20 points in the second half, including 16 points in the final 4:33 and UW's final nine points in the last 30 seconds. Fellow freshman Dekker scored 13, but finished with five turnovers.
Wisconsin finished with zero blocks for the first time since December 2011 and no steals for the first time since before the 1998 season.
"(They) beat us to all the loose balls," said Marshall. "They played a lot tougher. It was just all the little things that they did and executed on offense and our defensive lapses that let them get that big lead in the first half."
Wisconsin made it interesting late in the second half, scoring on seven straight possessions to orchestra a 17-8 run and cut the lead to 60-53. Wisconsin had a chance to cut the lead further in the final 80 seconds, but a Traevon Jackson turnover kept the game at three possessions. Despite Marshall's best efforts, UW never got closer than three with Iowa making 10 of its final 12 free throws.
"You can always say if it would have been a 45 minute game," said UW coach Bo Ryan. "You can't make those up. A couple spurts early. We got in a hole. We're not exactly the kind of team that can really make those kind(s) of comebacks."
After back-to-back double digit outputs, Jackson finished 1-for-10 with only three points, and was one of the many victims that succumbed to the Hawkeyes' perimeter defense.
Leading the Big Ten in three-point field goal defense, holding opponents to under 29 percent a game, Iowa (13-5, 2-3 Big Ten) made Wisconsin takes rushed and challenged three-point shots, as the Badgers – who averaged eight made three-pointers per game - shot 1-for-11 (9.1 percent) in the first half.
Wisconsin rebounded to shoot 34.8 percent (8-for-23), but bad misses resulted in fast break and transition opportunities for Iowa.
"The stuff we did wrong on offense led to a lot of easy stuff for them," said Berggren. "That makes it pretty tough to play defense when we're turning the ball over and they're running out to get layups and dunks."
Iowa had no trouble finding the bottom of the net in the first half, starting 7-for-14, building a 20-6 lead 10 minutes into the game. The Hawkeyes shot 43.3 (13-for-3) in the first half and turned the ball over twice. Coming in averaging 13.3 turnovers per game, Iowa turned the ball over seven times and shot 43.1 percent.
"We gave them confidence," said Berggren. "And then they're coming off balls screens and things in the half court, they're feeling good about themselves. They're feeling like they can score. They have a lot of talented scorers. Once they get a couple to go down, they just get a taste for it, get their confidence going. They feel like they can do it again and again.
"Once they got going, they had the momentum. They fed off that. We kind of let things get out of hand."
The Hawkeyes got four starters in double figures led by sophomore Aaron White, who finished 17 points and went 13 of 15 from the free throw line.
"We needed to do a better job of containing him, taking his angles away," said Ryan. "Some nights you do, some nights you don't. We didn't do that tonight."
Fox Sports' Jesse Temple contributed to this report