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FRANALYSIS: STARTERS NOT ENOUGH TO GET IOWA PAST INDIANA

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Iowa fought back from the brink of a blowout, but ultimately they didn't have quite enough to pick up the win in Assembly Hall on Thursday night.

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

This was a tough loss. There's no way around it. The Hawkeyes dug themselves a huge early hole, falling behind by as much as 16 points with six minutes left to play in the first half. They fought back, though, and cut that Indiana lead to 7 points at halftime by scoring on eight straight possessions to close the half. After the intermission, Iowa came out of the locker room and continued to take it to Indiana. The first ten minutes of the second half went Iowa's way, as the Hawkeyes scored on their first five possessions out of the gate and Indiana was held scoreless on their first six. The second half was going so great that Iowa eventually found themselves up 4 points with about nine minutes to go in the game. But then it all fell apart.

You see, while Iowa was brilliant for the middle twenty minutes of this game, Indiana was just slightly better when you put together their performances from roughly the first and final ten minutes of play. Iowa was outscored 1.51 points per possession to 1.27 in the first half because of that hot start by Indiana. And the Hoosier's performance over the final nine minutes of the second half was enough to play Iowa to a draw after halftime, and let the lead they built from the first quarter of the game carry them to victory.

quarters

Four Factors in Review

1st half

First Half Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.27, Indiana 1.51

First Half Possessions: 30

2nd half

Second Half Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.16, Indiana 1.16

Second Half Possessions: 35

4 factors

Total Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.21, Indiana 1.31

Total Possessions: 65

Shooting

Iowa 2pt Near Rim 2pt Jumper 3Pt FG FT
Attempts 47.6% 22.2% 30.2% N/A
FG% 60.0% 28.6% 36.8% 56.5%
Indiana 2pt Near Rim 2pt Jumper 3Pt FG FT
Attempts 47.6% 12.7% 39.7% N/A
FG% 56.7% 37.5% 36.0% 85.7%

Both teams finished with an eerily equal 29 of 63 shooting from the field. This, however, should be an excellent lesson in why eFG% is superior to straight up FG%. Even though both teams shot 29-63 from the floor, two of Indiana's field goals were worth an extra point a piece from downtown. Both teams took almost half of their shot attempts from near the basket, and neither team shot very well from up close. Instead, Indiana took more threes than Iowa did, and the Hoosiers' couple extra threes on the same amount of field goal attempts as Iowa was enough to push this category in their favor. And that's without even considering free throw shooting. We will get to the free throw shooting.

The thing is, Iowa was shooting lights out during that middle stretch of the game. They peaked at a 67% eFG% with about fourteen minutes left in the game, and were still at 61% right before Indiana took the lead from them. Once the game entered the final ten minutes, Iowa would only make 5 of their final 20 field goal attempts, including 0 of their 5 tries from three-point range. They still finished with an above average eFG% for the game, but it could have been so much better if they could have at least finished around the rim. But it was a positive to see them not shoot so many long twos. Sometimes the results don't follow the process, but it was still a good process.

Iowa is now 1-4 in games this season where the other team finishes with a higher eFG% than they do.

Advantage: Indiana

Turnovers

Turnovers played a huge factor in Iowa getting back into this game. From about the 9:00 mark of the first half to the 9:00 mark of the second half, Iowa forced Indiana into 8 of their 11 total turnovers. During this time, Iowa's defense had Indiana baffled, as Hoosier possessions became longer and usually resulted with an errant pass to an Iowa player or a missed field goal attempt. These empty possessions were crucial for keeping Iowa in this game.

But outside of the middle portion of the game, Indiana didn't have much trouble holding onto the ball. They even had success breaking and scoring off of Iowa's 1-2-2 three-quarter court press, which is something that no team can really say they've done this year. Additionally, in the first eleven minutes of the game and inside the final nine minutes of the game, the Hoosier's forced 7 of Iowa's 9 turnovers, and those mixed with cold shooting from the Hawkeyes was enough to put them behind by 16 in the first half, and eventually enough to cost them the game.

Overall, Iowa won the turnover category due to quantity. Indiana, though, forced two fewer turnovers, and still managed to outscore Iowa 14-13 in points off turnovers. So this factor wasn't as much of a clear victory as we would have all liked it to be.

Advantage: Iowa (Technically)

Offensive Rebounding

Defensive rebounding has been a struggle for Iowa all year, but in no game has it hurt them more this season than in this one. Indiana grabbing 71% of their first half misses was the absolute worst single-half performance by Iowa on the defensive glass of the season. They have had a number of halves where the other team's offensive rebounding rate has been in the 40s, and even gave up over 50% in the second half at home against Michigan State, but never have they given up more than 56%, and nowhere near 70%.

The problem started with Thomas Bryant, who had 4 offensive rebounds in the first four minutes of play, off of which, Indiana scored 7 of their first 9 points of the game. Bryant fortunately got in foul trouble early on and had to take a seat. However, Iowa still struggled to box out Troy Williams and Colin Hartman, and Indiana finished the half with 17 second chance points off of 12 offensive rebounds. Iowa grabbed 40% of their misses, which is a very good number, but it was overshadowed by Indiana's monstrous 71%.

The second half rebounding battle went a lot better for Iowa, but it wasn't exactly perfect. First, the positive: Adam Woodbury hauled in 8 of his 15 rebounds in the second half, including 5 offensive boards, helping Iowa come away with rebounds off of 54% of their misses. The Hawkeyes would actually outscore Indiana 12-9 in second chance points after halftime. Now, the negative: Iowa missed so many layups that a lot of their offensive rebounds went to waste in this game, as the Hoosiers' 9 second chance points on 7 second half offensive boards was more efficient than Iowa's 12 second chance points on 13 offensive rebounds.

Indiana also had a hard time finishing around the rim on the night, but they still outscored Iowa 26-20 in second chance points. Plus, the Hoosiers were able to make up for those misses in other areas -- like at the free throw line --and Iowa wasn't.

Advantage: Indiana

Free Throw Rate

Speaking of free throws... Ugh. The Hawkeyes won the free throw rate battle, and they won it pretty handily when you take out the 6 free throw attempts Indiana had in the final minute of the game due to intentional fouls. The problem was that Iowa missed 10 free throws on a night in which they lost by 7 points. I'm not saying they should have made 7 of those 10 (that would be 87% from the line), but if they could have made something like half of them and made a few more of their layups, we may be talking about a different game today.

But Iowa didn't and we're not. So this is just a reminder that winning the free throw rate is only half the battle. You have to also have to make your free ones.

Advantage: Iowa (Technically)

Overall: Iowa Won 2 of 4 Factors

Players

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Breaking it down to an individual level, Iowa's starters did everything last night. The bench was pretty much non-existent outside of a steal by Nicholas Baer and a couple of rebounds by both he and Uhl. Ahmad Wagner played five minutes and was only able to log a turnover and 2 fouls. Meanwhile, Brady Ellingson's minute on the court was so bad that I couldn't stretch the vertical axis enough to fit it on the graph. His 1 turnover in that minute played was good enough for a -1.34 adjusted game score per minute ratio. Woof.

The starters, though, played well and almost carried this team to victory, but they looked tired as the game wound to a close.

Jarrod Uthoff is the player of the game in my eyes, despite not quite having the highest diamond vertically on the chart. The main reason he doesn't have the highest diamond is because his 24 points came on 8-20 shooting from the floor (2-7 from three) and 6-8 shooting from the line. The thing is, he was 8-13 with ten minutes left in the game, but then Iowa hit that cold spell. Uthoff didn't touch the ball on every possession, and when he did down the stretch, he was just trying to throw up three-pointers in order to try and halt Indiana's late run.

For the first 30 minutes of play, though, he was damn near unstoppable. He hit a few big threes on the night, but more importantly, he dominated Indiana in the paint, scoring 10 of his 24 points near the rim. He also gave Iowa 5 rebounds (2 offensive), an assist, a block, and was the only starter that didn't turn the ball over. It would have been great if he could have gotten something going at the end of the game, but crazy things happen on the road and he wasn't the only player to struggle down the stretch.

Aside from Uthoff, Mike Gesell played his best game in a long time. He scored 17 points on a very efficient 6-9 shooting, and also returned to his distributing ways, handing out 6 assists and only giving the ball away twice. There were a few times, though, when Gesell got deep in the lane and was looking for a big man on a wrap around pass, but they weren't open. This led to a turnover where Gesell passed it to the other team, and another one where Gesell stepped out of bounds when he got trapped on the baseline. However, I thought Gesell did a really nice job on defense over the stretches he was assigned to guard Yogi Ferrell.

Which brings me to Anthony Clemmons, who also gave Iowa another great defensive effort. Between he and Gesell in man-to-man, they did an excellent job of holding Ferrell to 14 points on 2-12 shooting from the floor. And, honestly, Ferrell was really held to 10 points up until the final 30 seconds where Iowa was forced to foul him and he made 4 free throws to help seal the game. It may have come in a losing effort, but Sapp did add Yogi Ferrell to his resume of top players he has shut down this year. He also contributed 12 points on offense on the night. He struggled to shoot the ball in the second half, but his 10 points were vital in the first half when Iowa was teetering on the brink of a blowout.

And then there is Adam Woodbury, who I am in no way trying to slight by listing him here fourth. Woodbury logged his eighth double-double of the season, by scoring 13 points and corralling 15 rebounds. Woodbury earned most of his points in the pick and roll or via putbacks off the 9 offensive boards he had. His defense was a big reason why Indiana struggled to shoot the ball, but if he had one negative to his game against Indiana, it was that his 6-10 shooting from the field all came near the rim. It's not all on him, of course, but if Iowa could have turned a few more of their offensive rebounds into second chance points, this could have been a different game.

Finally, Peter Jok had a rather quiet game in the box score. It wasn't quiet in the injury department, as he was poked in the eye yet again -- a stat he has to be leading at least the Big Ten in this season -- and he also had to leave the game briefly due to a "calf contusion." I wouldn't say that Jok had a bad game because he did score 12 points while shooting 4-7 from the field and he did pick up two more steals. But it would have been very helpful if he hadn't been so quiet in this one. Yogi Ferrell guarded him most of the night, and despite the significant height advantage, Jok never really took advantage of it all that often. He posted him up a few times, but not very often. And with the way he was shooting, it would have been nice to see him get off a few more attempts from long range than the 3 that he had. I know Fran was upset thinking Jok was being held going through his usual host of screens, but that stuff happens on most plays and there's nothing you can really do about it. Again, I'm not saying it was a bad game for Jok. I just think Iowa needed him to get a little more involved than he did.

The game is over, though, and Iowa came out on the losing side. It sucks, but it's not a debilitating loss. Assembly Hall is a difficult place to win on the road, and Iowa showed a lot of heart by coming back from the brink of a blowout and making it a competitive game. The Hawkeyes are now in a three-way tie for first with Maryland and Indiana, but their Big Ten Championship dreams are still very much alive. Out of that first place triumvirate, Iowa has played the toughest schedule in the conference to date, and they have the easiest remaining schedule. Indiana, meanwhile has a remaining slate that looks daunting. The Hawkeyes still have plenty of opportunity to slip up, though, and Maryland's schedule isn't that much more difficult. So this is a race that could come down to the very end.

There are no guarantees, but Iowa is still in a great position. We are getting down to crunch time, and it probably will be anxiety-inducing as a fan. But Iowa is relevant on the national scene, and it's a great time to be a fan. Buckle in, everybody, it should be an exhilarating ride.