Well, we knew there would be growing pains. This, apparently, was one of them. Things got off to a decent start for Iowa, as they led by as many as seven in the first half, but defense was nowhere to be found from this young Hawkeye squad. It may legitimately be time to hit the panic button in Iowa City.
Let’s start with the good. Peter Jok is Peter Jok. Jordan Bohannon can flat shoot and Cordell Pemsl looks fantastic. He has some serious post moves and is one of only a couple guys to show much desire to rebound the ball (Ahmad Wagner certainly falls into this category, but he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat today - he was 1-7 from the field despite 7 offensive boards). Unfortunately, that’s where the good ends. Pemsl left the first half with less than 5 minutes to play and Nebraska-Omaha proceeded to go on a 17-8 run. Yikes.
Hawk fans everywhere were surely nervous at half as Pemsl went to the locker room with a knee injury, taking his game-high 12 points at the time with him, and UNO took a 53-47 lead into the half. Iowa was out-rebounded 23-15 in the first half and gave up 10 offensive rebounds on just 19 missed shots. When you play the type of defense that gives up 98 points to a Summit League opponent, losing the rebounding battle is typically not a recipe for success.
Iowa came out of the gates firing in the second half, but never decided to play defense. After leading 56-55 at the 18 minute mark, Iowa went on a cold streak while UNO got hot. After briefly trailing by 1 early in the second, UNO took the lead and never looked back.
Iowa did cut the lead to 3 with less than 2 minutes to play. They even managed to force UNO to take their final time out after applying full-court pressure. They then proceeded to give up an easy bucket and were forced to begin fouling. To their credit, UNO didn’t miss many free throws down the stretch and went on to win 98-89.
The Mavericks had four in double-figures, led by sophomore guard (and Iowa native pro golfer) Zach Johnson with 21. Tre’Shawn Thurman dropped 17 and Mitchell Hahn added 15 off the bench.
Iowa was led by, who else, Peter Jok with 33. Sadly, Jok also led the team in rebounds with 10. Jordan Bohannon continued his hot shooting with 20 points on 7-14 shooting (6-12 from 3). Pemsl added 18 points and 4 rebounds. Ahmad Wagner provided the spark off the bench, though mostly through hustle plays and rebounds (8) rather than points (only 4).
This team has some serious flaws. Despite the offensive prowess of Pemsl and Jok and the hot shooting from Bohannon, it’s tough to keep up with opponents when you are giving up 85 points a game. I would cut them some slack on Notre Dame and Memphis, but giving up 98 to Nebraska-Omaha isn’t going to get it done.
The group is young and learning, but it doesn’t look like they’ve worked much on the defensive end yet. Let’s hope that gets straightened out, and quick. Iowa State comes to town next week and we have just over 3 weeks until Big Ten play kicks off.
The loss drops Iowa to 3-5, good enough for dead last in the Big Ten. Their next game is Monday night at 6pm CT against Stetson. That one is on ESPNU. Tune in at your own risk.