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IOWA 78, FLORIDA STATE 75: WINNING WHEN THINGS GO WRONG

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You're welcome, Big Ten.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

So what do we take away from that game?  Iowa won -- that's good!  Iowa also played fairly poorly for large stretches of the game -- that's bad!  Winning even when things aren't going perfectly is a good trait to have and if Florida State continues to improve, this win may look very nice by the end of the season (especially because no one will remember how it happened, just that Iowa won).  But Florida State exposed some of the same weaknesses that we've seen pop up in Iowa's game this season.

Opponent offensive rebounding was a major problem for Iowa early in the season, but it looked a little better during their stay in Orlando; Wednesday night was another bad performance in that department.  Florida State hauled in a whopping 19 offensive boards in the game, getting a second chance on 41% of their missed buckets.  That's way too many second chance opportunities.  Luckily, Florida State struggled to shoot the ball tonight (38.7% from the floor, including 45.2% on 2-point shots -- well below their season averages).

Free throws have also been a common problem for Iowa so far this season, albeit usually in a different way than they were tonight.  Iowa has struggled to get to the line very often this year (312th in the nation).  Tonight Iowa was actually able to draw fouls and get to the line -- they just weren't able to make their free throws with enough consistency.  Iowa shot 70.8% from the line (17/24), a number bolstered by several late makes from Jarrod Uthoff and Adam Woodbury.  This game went to overtime -- but it might not have needed to if Iowa had been able to make their free throws at a better clip earlier in the game.  Anthony Clemmons was 2/5 from the line and Mike Gesell was 1/2, with both missing free throws late that would have given Iowa some much-needed breathing room (and/or won the game in regulation). Iowa's most reliable free throw shooter on the night was... Adam Woodbury, who converted all five of his trips to the charity stripe.

Woodbury deserves serious consideration for man of the match honors, too. He had 11 points on 3/5 shooting (and made some pressure-packed free throws), hauled in 10 rebounds, and provided his usual solid defense as well. That was nice game from the big man.  Peter Jok led all players in scoring with a career-high 24 points (including hugely important three-pointer near the end of the game to put Iowa ahead for good)... but he also took 20 shots to get those points.  Not exactly his most efficient outing.  Jarrod Uthoff was even more inefficient -- 13 points on 5/14 shooting and was MIA on offense for a bit too much at times in the second half, but he did contribute 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 blocks, so even though his shot wasn't falling tonight, he found other ways to contribute effectively.

Gesell and Clemmons had strange nights.  They each had 10 points (Clemmons on 4/9 shooting, Gesell on 4/8 shooting) and combined for 8 rebounds and 7 assists... but they also combined for 7 turnovers (with Gesell contributing a particularly ghastly giveaway on Iowa's final offensive possession of regulation) and had those aforementioned critical free throw misses.  Speaking of that last possession in regulation... that play was yet another flashpoint in the ongoing Fran McCaffery end of game debate.  Fran eschewed a timeout there and let Gesell and the Iowa players run things on their own; the results were... not good.  That's been a consistent trend in Fran's coaching -- he prefers not to use timeouts there and let guys work things out for themselves -- but it's rarely seemed to yield positive results for Iowa.  If Iowa had a player who was an unbelievable clutch shooter or a player who could get his own shot off reliably, maybe it would be a good strategy.  But Iowa doesn't have those guys.  So maybe it's worth drawing up a play instead.  The circumstances weren't exactly the same, but in overtime, Fran did use a timeout late in the game (after an unbelievable made prayer of a three-pointer by FSU that chopped Iowa's 4-point lead to one point).  He drew up a very clever out of bounds play, one that worked beautifully and had Florida State completely baffled.

Overall, there's a lot to like about this win for Iowa -- they battled back from a bad start (Florida State led by as many as 9 early in the first half), beat a team with some tremendous athletes (they kept Dwayne Bacon under wraps for most of the game -- he only had 11 points on 5/16 shooting -- and while Malik Beasley had 20 points, he needed 17 shots to get there), won a close game (not always a strong point for Iowa under Fran), and won a game when several things went against them (we hit on offensive rebounding above, but Iowa shot very poorly from outside -- 23.8% from deep -- and still won).  Let's just not make a habit of playing this way, yeah?

Finally, remember when Iowa lost seven straight games in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge?  (Actually, you're forgiven if you've forgotten that or otherwise blocked it out of your memory.)  From 2007 to 2013, the Big Ten-ACC Challenge was a puzzle that Iowa could not solve.  That's changed  -- Iowa's now won three games in a row in the Challenge (Notre Dame in 2013-14, North Carolina in 2014-15, Florida State in 2015-16). That's a much nicer streak, frankly. Oh, and Iowa's win clinched the Big Ten-ACC Challenge for the Big Ten, too.  YOU'RE WELCOME, DELANY.