Fran McCaffery discusses Iowa's NCAA Tournament loss to Auburn in hostile environment
Iowa basketball traveled to the state of Alabama and was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in an 83-75 loss to Auburn.
The NCAA rewards high seeds with favorable first-round host sites, but that typically doesn’t apply to the 8-9 games. No. 9 seed Auburn had the definite advantage Thursday, though, getting to play in Birmingham, just a short drive for many Tigers’ fans.
Iowa coaches and players were asked after the game about playing in a road environment.
“In a perfect world, yeah, we probably would rather play somewhere else,” head coach Fran McCaffery told reporters. “But I think the focus is, looking at the schedule we had, looking at how tough our conference is, we just want to get into the tournament.
“We want to be one of the teams that’s in it. And I think once that happens, you have to take the mindset of we’ll play anybody, anytime, anywhere. And I think that has to be your mindset.”
Connor McCaffery said playing in Birmingham is not an excuse, noting the Hawkeyes have won important games in hostile on-campus environments.
“Playing in the Big Ten, we’re used to playing on the road, playing in hostile environments,” Connor told reporters. “So I think, for us — I mean, obviously, like if we had our choice, we would have preferred to be a little bit more neutral. But that’s not why we lost at all.
“We’re used to that. And that’s something — we won at Rutgers. We won at IU. And those places are 100 times louder than it was in here today. So I think it’s just part of the game.”
Payton Sandfort said Iowa could have played better.
“It is what it is,” Sandfort told reporters. “You play to get to the tournament. Control what you can and play the game as you can. Unfortunately, we didn’t play up to our capabilities. That’s what happened.”