BLOOMINGTON, Indiana — Iowa coach Fran McCaffery needed his team to be better Thursday night.
His players shot the ball all right. They outscored the Hoosiers inside and they rallied from a 16-point deficit to take a four-point lead midway through the second half.
They just weren't good enough.
Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell scored 14 points beat Iowa's defensive pressure, found open teammates and finished the game by making four straight free throws to help the Hoosiers hold on for an 85-78 upset victory.
"This is a terrific team we just played. I thought they really moved the ball tonight, I thought they ran, I thought they got on the glass early. We responded like I hoped we would," he said. "I don't think our execution was what it's been and you can't beat a team of this caliber unless you are executing better."
Jarrod Uthoff led the Hawkeyes (19-5, 10-2 Big Ten) with 24 points, Mike Gesell had 17 points and Adam Woodbury finished with 13 points and tied a career high with 15 rebounds, and Peter Jok left for several minutes with what appeared to be a lower left leg injury before returning.
McCaffery also liked the way his team methodically trimmed the first-half deficit to 45-38 at the half and started the second half on a 9-0 run to take their first lead since the opening minutes.
With Ferrell running the show, the Hawkeyes couldn't keep that lead long.
"What I like about him (Ferrell) is that he holds his teammates up," McCaffery said. "Even though he was 2 for 12, he still engineered a victory for his team."
It sure wasn't easy.
Indiana (20-5, 10-2) needed a 14-2 run to erase a four-point deficit, seize control and move into a share of the conference lead with the Hawkeyes and No. 2 Maryland.
But it was Ferrell who helped salvage the game during Indiana's decisive run.
With Indiana down 60-56 with 9:35 to go, little-used walk-on Harrison Niego made a 17-footer that got the comeback started.
Ferrell's 3-pointer, with 6:24 left, gave the Hoosiers a 70-62 lead and they never trailed again.
"I felt like they hit us in the mouth a little bit tonight," Ferrell said. "But against a great team like Iowa, you can't get down and crumble, you've basically got to get up and keep fighting."
MAKING A POINT
Indiana's depth was a major difference Thursday, too. The Hawkeyes' backups were shut out 28-0. The other big difference showed up at the free-throw line. Indiana went 18 of 21, while the Hawkeyes were just 13 of 23.
How big was this game? A long line of students snaked through the parking lot at the south end of Assembly Hall long before the doors opened, and inside Indiana's basketball arena, the group of former players in attendance included Dick and Tom Van Arsdale, the twin stars from the 1960s; Todd Lindeman, who played with the Hoosiers in 1990s, and Charlotte Hornets center Cody Zeller, who stayed home after helping beat the Pacers in Indianapolis on Wednesday.
Gesell played a major part in getting the Hawkeyes back in the game. He was 6 of 9 from the field, had six assists and made his only 3-point attempt. He also cracked the 1,000-point mark, finishing the game with 1,015. He nearly got another major milestone at Assembly Hall, finishing three assists short of No. 500.
Iowa: Had won 12 of its previous 17 true road games and is 4-2 outside Iowa City in league play. ... The Hawkeyes made only two of their last eight shots. ... The last time Iowa was in the Big Ten lead this late into the season was Feb. 23, 2006.
Indiana: Has beaten 20 ranked teams since 2011-12, the most in the Big Ten. ... Indiana honored broadcaster Chuck Marlowe with a moment of silence before the game. He died this week. ... The Hoosiers are 14-0 at home and have won all but one of those games by at least six points.
No. 4 Iowa hosts Minnesota on Sunday.
Indiana visits No. 8 Michigan State on Sunday.