MADISON, Wis. - Fran McCaffery made no apologies and took no blame for his Iowa team's 75-71 loss to Wisconsin Sunday night here at the Kohl Center. He did what he does, even if it shocks and awes people watching him.
The Hawkeye coach lost his cool eight minutes into the second half, receiving two technical fouls and getting tossed out of the game. Assistant coaches restrained McCaffery as he moved on the game officials before leaving the court. Iowa led by one point at the time of the ejection.
A docile crowd by Kohl standards erupted during McCaffery's display and it all seemed the energize the Badgers. Iowa, which led by 11 points at halftime, fell behind by three after the technical free throws. Wisconsin stayed ahead the rest of the way.
McCaffery was asked point blank if he felt he cost his team the game.
"No," he said.
That certainly wasn't the fourth-year head coach's intention. And there really was no way to prove one way or the other if he did. There were 12 minutes left when he was run.
None of the Hawkeyes available for post-game interviews felt like McCaffery's outburst cost them the game.
"We knew what he was doing," Iowa Forward Aaron White said. "He was trying to get us some calls."
McCaffery said he felt bad about the second technical, meaning he was more than willing to absorb the first. He was trying to express displeasure with the officiating but he also was trying to motivate his team, who lacked the intensity it showed in building a first-half lead.
"And there's no excuse for that against the No. 4 ranked team," White said.
Said Roy Devyn Marble: "I don't think it affected us negatively. We knew what he was doing. Personally, it just got me going and focused."
Assistant Kirk Speraw performed well in McCaffery's absence. He employed some excellent substitution patterns, called timeouts at the appropriate times and helped the Hawkeyes get in position to win in the closing minutes.
In the end, Iowa couldn't stop the Badgers' three-point shooting. They were 10 of 22 from behind the arc for the game, including 6 of 9 after the intermission.
"A lot of people will look at our defense but it really started when we were quick shooting in the early part of the second half," White said.
Wisconsin (15-0 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) shot a miserable 8 of 30 from the floor in the first half. Iowa moved the ball well on offense and played excellent team defense on the other end of the court.
The Badgers came out of the energized. And even though No. 22 Iowa (12-3, 1-1) didn't have the same pep in its step, the visitors kept answering Wisconsin spurts.
Four minutes after McCaffery's exit, the home team had built an eight-point lead. The Hawkeyes responded and a Marble three trimmed Wisconsin's lead to 64-63 with 3:00 left in regulation.
Ben Brust missed a three but Sam Dekker, who had been quiet all night, grabbed an offensive rebound and then knocked down a triple, his first points of the night. The sophomore converted a lay-up after a missed lay-up by White and three from Mike Gesell. The Badgers led by seven and never looked back.
McCaffery was asked what set him off.
"I can't address that, as much as I would like to," he said.
Marble paced Iowa with a game-high 27 points. White added 12 points and eight rebounds. Gesell dished out seven assists against one turnover, but shot just 3 of 12 from the floor.
Iowa returns to action Thursday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena where it plays host to Northwestern (8 p.m. CT, ESPNU).