A day after a disappointing showing by the University of Iowa football team in the Rose Bowl, the Iowa men's basketball team helped wash away the painful memories from New Year's Day with a win over the 14th-ranked Purdue Boilermakers on the road. This was a game in which every Hawkeye not named "Jarrod Uthoff" in the first half played terribly. The first half was so bad that Iowa found themselves down 17 at the break, and it looked like a second straight day where Iowa fans could just zone out for the second half without fear of missing anything important.
Instead, Purdue's three-pointers stopped falling and the turnovers came in waves, as Iowa turned up the pressure on defense. On top of all that, Iowa couldn't miss on the other half of the court. The momentum shifted after halftime and Iowa stunned Purdue by coming all the way back and storming on to a 7-point win.
Now, full disclosure: I didn't watch a minute of this game. I was still in California from the Rose Bowl, and happened to be at Disneyland with my wife and son when this game was going on. But this game was too good to pass up writing a Franalysis on. Normally, I like to compliment the stats with observations I make while watching the game. This time, however, I am going with what I've seen in highlights, read in various articles about the game, and gleaned from the box score. Feel free to point out anything I'm missing in the comments.
How about that second half?
Four Factors in Review
First Half Points Per Possession: Iowa 0.63, Purdue 1.17
Second Half Points Per Possessions: Iowa 1.44, Purdue 0.75
Second Half Possessions: 35
Total Points Per Possessions: Iowa 1.05, Purdue 0.94
Total Possessions: 67
Iowa went from 0.63 points per possession in the first half to 1.44 in the second half. I can't say for sure, but I'm fairly certain that has to be the biggest change in offensive output from the first half to second in Fran's tenure at Iowa. I mean, an improvement of 0.81 points per possession on offense between halves isn't something that happens on a frequent basis.
|Iowa||2pt Near Rim||2pt Jumper||3Pt FG||FT|
|Purdue||2pt Near Rim||2pt Jumper||3Pt FG||FT|
Without watching this game, I can tell you that I am not surprised at Iowa's shot selection, but I am a little curious about Purdue's.
First, it's not surprising that Iowa settled for a lot of jump shots against Purdue and their gigantic frontline. With Hammons, Haas, and Swanigan clogging up the middle, Purdue doesn't leave opposing offenses with much opportunity to get a good look near the basket. That being said, Jarrod Uthoff did a nice job of scoring in the paint and drawing contact on Purdue defenders. Overall, though, Purdue's bevy of ogres down low made it so the Hawkeyes had to make their jump shots on Saturday evening, and, luckily, they did.
They didn't in the first half, though, except for the aforementioned Uthoff. Iowa's underrated and extremely versatile forward scored 16 of Iowa's 20 points in the first 20 minutes of the game. U shot 5-11 from the field in the first half, while the rest of the team managed a pitiful 2-19.
Luckily, Iowa's fortune changed in the second half, as Uthoff went 2-5 from the floor, but the rest of the team shot 16-23. Three-point shooting for the Hawkeyes was especially important, as the first half 1-10 performance transformed into 6-9 in the second half.
Purdue, meanwhile, confuses me. Coming into this game, the Boilers had two big tendencies on offense: 1) Isaac Haas and A.J. Hammons used a ton of possessions on offense by simply posting up on the block; and 2) The rest of the team shot a bunch of threes. Well, the latter showed up Saturday, but the former was non-existent.
Looking at three-point shooting, Purdue took 42% of their attempts from downtown, which is basically their season norm of 41%. They jumped out to their 17-point lead in the first half partially because they shot 7-14 from downtown before intermission. Unfortunately (or fortunately for us), that hot shooting stayed on the same side of the court in the second half, and the Boilers made all of 1 of their 11 attempts from deep in the final 20.
The thing that interests me the most, however, is how both Haas and Hammons used a much lower percentage of possessions against Iowa than their season average. With 17 total points on 11 combined scoring attempts, there are two things that stick out to me as an explanation for why Purdue's big men weren't as effective as they are capable of: 1) Purdue focused too much on the three-point shot; or 2) Iowa did a great job of denying the pass in the post, keeping both big men from catching the ball deep in the paint, or double-teaming them so that they didn't have a good look at the basket. Again, I didn't watch this game, but I have seen Woodbury do an excellent job of denying the post before, so that wouldn't be a surprising explanation of why Purdue's big men had some issues. The second, Wisconsin had some success against Purdue's bigs by forcing them to catch the ball a mile from the basket. And, finally, Iowa double-teamed Matt Costello in the post a bunch last week, so it also wouldn't be surprising if this is what the strategy was against Purdue.
Whatever it was, though, Hammons and Haas shot the ball well, but had limited touches. Which left the talented, but very inefficient freshman, Caleb Swanigan, with the second highest usage rate for the Boilermakers in this game. And he more than lived up to his inefficient reputation. Meanwhile, Purdue's long-range shooting went ice cold over the final 20 minutes. And all of that, mixed with Iowa being the polar opposite in the final 20 minutes, was enough to give the Hawkeyes the advantage here.
Both teams had 4 turnovers in the first half. But Purdue had 10 in the second half, while Iowa had only 5. More importantly, though, Iowa went from having a 4-2 advantage in points off of turnovers in the first half to an 18-5 one in the second half. Iowa's increased pressure via the 1-2-2 three-quarter court press helped Iowa get 7 steals and cripple Purdue's offensive attack.
With Iowa's shots falling at a much-improved rate in the second half, they were able to claw their way back and shoot past the Boilers for the win.
We really need to hand it to the Hawkeyes in this one. With the losses of Aaron White and Gabe Olaseni, rebounding has been a little tougher this year for Iowa. However, going up against a team that is top 50 or better in offensive and defensive rebounding in the nation, the Hawkeyes went form grabbing just a quarter of their misses before halftime to hauling in 42% in the second half. Of course, they rarely missed after the break, but when they did, they were likely to get themselves a second look at scoring.
Of course, Purdue's mammoths were able to help the Boilers out-rebound Iowa in the first half, while they also put up an above average performance on the offensive glass in the second half. All together, that was enough for Purdue to win the offensive rebounding category, but Iowa did outscore them in points off of second chance opportunities 1 to 0.92. So this category wasn't a total win for the Boilers.
Free throws is a bit of a skewed category in this one, considering Jarrod Uthoff earned half of his free attempts in the final 1:37 of the game, and Iowa attempted 11 of their 20 total free throws during that timespan. When the Hawks did get there, they shot below their season norm, and I'm sure we would all have liked to see them make more than just 7 of their final 11 free throws at the end of the game. On the bright side, though, Iowa's 65% free throw conversion rate was still better than Purdue's 60%.
Overall: Iowa Won 3 of 4 Factors
Purdue had a lot of guys provide them with good value, but you can see that most of those guys also played limited minutes. Instead, Iowa received some nice production from all their guys who played the bulk of the game, while Purdue had three guys play more than 22 minutes and give them negative production. Caleb Swanigan, Rapheal Davis, and P.J. Thompson had days to forget. Meanwhile, Vince Edwards, Isaac Haas, and Kendall Stevens all played great games, but all also played 20 minutes or less.
Iowa, on the other hand, had all five of their starters play 25 minutes or more while putting up a positive adjusted game score. Jarrod Uthoff was Iowa's best player in West Lafayette on Saturday. He scored 25 points in 38 minutes of play on 7-16 shooting from the floor and 10-14 shooting from the line. He also blocked 5 shots, grabbed 4 rebounds, earned 2 steals, and handed out 2 assists. Oh, and he didn't turn the ball over at all. He did most of his damage in the first half, as he was the entire offense. Without Uthoff's 16 first half points, who knows how far Iowa would have been behind at halftime.
In the second half, though, he still had some impressive plays. He had a nice turnaround fadeaway on the baseline, and he also had an excellent play where he was matched up with A.J. Hammons on the perimeter and he took the big man off the dribble for a nice finger roll lay in:
The rest of Iowa showed up after halftime and the second half performance was truly a team effort. Nobody scored double-digits for the Hawks in the second half, but six guys had 6 or more points en route to a 50-point second half show.
Peter Jok came alive a bit and shot 4-6 from the floor. He uncharacteristically scored 6 of his 9 second half points near the rim. 4 points came from put backs off of offensive rebounds, and one was a more characteristic steal where he jumped the passing lane and earned himself an easy fast break layup. Jok has really embraced Fran's philosophy of getting a hand in the passing lane this season.
Anthony Clemmons also came up big in the second half. He made a couple key threes, and continued to play great defense. He was a recipient of 2 steals thanks to the increased second half pressure, but he logged 4 of them for the entire game. Oh, and he also broke a dude's ankle:
Iowa's other guard, Mike Gesell, earned 3 assists and a block in the first half, but the second half saw him score 7 points on 2-3 shooting from the field (1-2 from three-point range) and 2-2 shooting from the line. He also tacked on 4 more assists, giving him 7 for the game and making him 33rd in the nation in assist rate, according to Kenpom.
Adam Woodbury was a little quiet on offense against Purdue, but I imagine he played a big role in keeping Hammons and Haas from going off on Iowa in the post. He did finish with 6 points and 7 rebounds (3 offensive), though. But Iowa was able to help offset Woodbury's offensive quietness with 13 combined points off the bench from Nicholas Baer and Dom Uhl. Baer continued to be everyone's favorite story, as he scored 7 points by knocking down a key three and cherrypicking the hell out of Purdue for an easy layup. He also blocked a couple more shots while hauling in 4 rebounds (2 offensive). Uhl, meanwhile, gave Iowa two big second half three-pointers and a block.
This was a complete team victory, and it showed this group can overcome adversity. Playing the 14th-ranked team in the nation (7th, according to Kenpom) on their home court and coming back from a 17-point halftime lead to win by 7 is a huge accomplishment. We've been waiting for Iowa to be ranked all season, and it seemed like every time they got close, they had a let down. They were on the verge of cracking the polls after their domination of Marquette, but then had disappointing games against Dayton and Notre Dame in the Advocare Invitational. They had the chance again when they had a 14-point halftime lead on the Cyclones in Ames, but... well, we all know what happened there. This time, coming off a big win over Michigan State, the Hawkeyes had another chance to make statement and they all of that and more.
They are now ranked 19th in the AP poll and 23rd in the coaches. That's great, but the season doesn't end here. The Hawks get Nebraska at home tomorrow night, and then have a rematch against a Spartan team that very well may have Denzel Valentine back in the lineup. Being ranked feels really damn good and Iowa's off to a great start on their journey for a Big Ten title, but there are still 16 games left in conference play. This is a talented and senior-laden team, though, so whatever challenges are presented over the next few months, let's hope this team has the toughness to meet them head-on.