Changing lineups has proved to be a temporary solution. Coming home to Assembly Hall wasn’t the magic elixir. Nor was Mike Davis’ absence from the sidelines.

After a 70-67 loss to Big Ten-leading Iowa on Saturday at home, the Indiana men’s basketball team is running out of easy solutions to pull out of its downward spiral. Indiana (13-8, 5-5 Big Ten) has lost three consecutive games, five of its last six and six of its last nine. Davis watched the game from home after falling ill with “flu-like” symptoms.

ESPN reported late Saturday that Davis has no intention of resigning.

Assistant head coach Donnie Marsh, who coached the Hoosiers in Davis’ absence, said Davis was not feeling well last night. The sixth-year head coach hoped he would be able to attend the game, but Marsh said Davis finally decided about 40 minutes before tipoff that he would not be able to make it.

Even without their head coach on the sidelines, the Hoosiers exhibited the same problems which have plagued them in their losses: poor shooting, slow second-half starts and erratic defense.

In their last five losses, the Hoosiers have shot 35.4 percent from the field and, despite trailing at halftime in each game, were outscored by their opponents in the first 10 minutes of the second half in each contest.

“We held them to 41 percent and there were a few minutes late in the second half where we let them get some easy shots; we were playing like a prevent defense,” Iowa Coach Steve Alford said. “If you factor that out, we probably held them [to under 40 percent] and that speaks volumes about our defense.”

Indiana did not go down without a fight. Despite trailing by 12 with six minutes remaining, the Hoosiers pulled to within two with 27 seconds to go in the game. Ben Allen, Earl Calloway and Robert Vaden each drained a 3-pointer to lead the comeback as Indiana outscored Iowa 19-10 in the final six minutes.

“We went into a frantic mode,” Hoosiers guard Errek Suhr said. “We started to hit some big shots.”

Iowa (19-6, 8-3 Big Ten) allowed Indiana to stay in the game with poor free-throw shooting. The Hawkeyes went 9-for-18 from the line in the final six minutes of the game. Adam Haluska made a free-throw with 5.6 seconds remaining to give Iowa a three-point lead. Calloway brought the ball up the floor and passed it to a trailing A.J. Ratliff, who missed a running 3-pointer just before time expired.

“We were pushing the ball to see if we could hit Strickland on the run,” Marsh said. “But they tried to take him away from us and we knew we would have someone trailing on the play. They were concerned about Earl penetrating and the play worked. I wish A.J. had taken a little more time and got his feet squared.”

The Hoosiers struggled defensively as they never were able to slow down Iowa’s transition offense. Indiana had 17 turnovers, including several bad passes right to Iowa players, which led to 15 Iowa points.

“It doesn’t matter if we are on the road or at home, it is this simple: our defense is not even close to where it needs to be,” Marsh said. “We’ve tried changing some things up to give some different looks. But it comes down to being able to take care of our man. We’ve struggled for far too long.”

Davis’ absence, which wasn’t announced to the fans and media until right before tipoff, only fueled rumors that he was no longer the head coach. Marsh and the Indiana players denied rumors Davis told them he was resigning.

Killingsworth led the Hoosiers with 21 points and 17 rebounds, the latter being a new career high. Marshall Strickland scored 18 and Calloway chipped in 10. Greg Brunner scored 19 to lead the Hawkeyes. Marsh talked to Davis after the game and said watching the game at home might have given Davis a different perspective then he gets from his courtside seat.

“He said… it was like we were missing some juice out there and we were wandering around at times.”


Notes — When Alford, the star of the 1987 Indiana NCAA title team was asked if he would be a candidate for the Indiana job if it opened up, he said, “I don’t respond to hypotheticals.” … There was a confrontation between a member of the media and an unidentifed person in the media room after the game. The media member asked Marsh whether Davis had resigned. The other party took offense and words were exchanged. Both were ejected from the media room. … The loss snapped the Hoosiers’ 13-game home conference winning streak. Their last home conference loss had been a 70-52 loss to Wisconsin on March 6, 2004.

No. 18 IOWA 70, No. 24 INDIANA 67

IOWA (19-6) — Brunner 8-12 2-4 19, Hansen 0-2 2-2 2, Haluska 4-12 4-6 13, Horner 5-11 4-9 17, Henderson 3-7 3-5 10, Thompson 0-1 0-0 0, Freeman 2-3 0-0 5, Thomas 2-5 0-0 4, Gorney 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-53 15-26 70.

INDIANA (13-8) — Killingsworth 10-21 1-4 21, Vaden 3-7 1-2 9, Wilmont 0-5 0-0 0, Strickland 4-9 8-8 18, Calloway 3-5 2-4 10, Suhr 2-2 0-0 6, Ratliff 0-3 0-0 0, Allen 1-3 0-0 3, Kline 0-0 0-0 0, Monroe 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-56 12-18 67.

Halftime—Iowa 38-30. 3-Point Goals—Iowa 7-17 (Horner 3-7, Henderson 1-1, Freeman 1-1, Brunner 1-2, Haluska 1-6), Indiana 9-22 (Suhr 2-2, Calloway 2-3, Strickland 2-5, Vaden 2-5, Allen 1-3, Wilmont 0-2, Ratliff 0-2). Fouled Out—Hansen, Vaden. Rebounds—Iowa 35 (Brunner 8), Indiana 35 (Killingsworth 17). Assists—Iowa 10 (Henderson, Horner 3), Indiana 13 (Calloway, Killingsworth 4). Total Fouls—Iowa 18, Indiana 25. A—17,278.