clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:


Let's look at some shooting numbers.

Amazingly, this shot did not go in.
Amazingly, this shot did not go in.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Ed. Note: No Franalysis today for last night's Penn State game -- not because Iowa lost, but because of real life commitments.  It happens.

It's obvious that Iowa basketball is struggling a bit right now -- the eye test alone could tell you that, given a 2-2 record over their last four games and uncomfortably close games against the likes of Minnesota and Penn State. But I wanted to dig a little deeper to see what some underlying stats said about the performances by Iowa -- and their opponents -- now and how they compared to what Iowa had been doing earlier in the Big Ten season and overall this year.  In particular, I wanted to look at shooting.  There have been other problems for Iowa during these games -- defensive rebounding and defense in general -- but I wanted to focus on shooting for this post.

Let's go back to the non-conference games to start.

1H FG (187/388) 48% (141/380) 37%
2H FG (178/386) 46% (158/375) 42%
1H 3FG (57/153) 37% (43/149) 29%
2H 3FG (57/134) 43% (45/144) 31%
1H FT (67/95) 71% (41/63) 65%
2H FT (80/105) 76% (88/126) 70%

Iowa shot really well in both halves in non-conference games, with a few exceptions here and there.  They shot threes and free throws better in the second half than the first, which is a little interesting. Opponents shot better in the second half than the first in all three categories, although they shot fairly poorly no matter what the situation.  (There were, of course, some notable exceptions, like Iowa State's second half barrage against Iowa.)

Now let's look at Big Ten games.

1H FG (184/423) 43% (173/422) 41%
2H FG (187/401) 46% (187/435) 43%
1H 3FG (56/155) 36% (55/156) 35%
2H 3FG (53/128) 41% (41/166) 25%
1H FT (90/120) 75% (44/64) 69%
2H FT (151/220) 69% (110/160) 69%

Overall, Iowa's numbers against Big Ten opponents are down a bit from their numbers against non-conference opponents, which shouldn't be surprising -- bar the odd game against Rutgers or Minnesota, they're playing tougher opponents than they were for much of their non-conference slate.  Opponents are shooting a bit better overall, although they're shooting 3s very poorly in the second half of games.

Anecdotally, it seemed like Iowa was (and is) a better free throw shooting team in the first half than the second and the numbers in Big Ten play back that up.  We'll talk about that more in a bit.  It's interesting that Iowa is shooting better from the floor in the second half, including from 3-point range.

But the Big Ten is a long season with ups and downs along the way, so let's break things down a bit more for Iowa in league play. Let's see how the first seven games of the Big Ten season compare to the next seven games of the Big Ten season.

STAT 1st 7 IOWA 1st 7 OPP 2nd 7 IOWA 2nd 7 OPP
1H FG (91/128) 42% (84/199) 42% (93/205) 45% (89/223) 40%
2H FG (101/194) 52% (97/219) 44% (86/207) 42% (90/216) 42%
1H 3FG (31/82) 38% (20/64) 31% (25/73) 34% (35/92) 38%
2H 3FG (31/60) 52% (25/83) 30% (22/68) 32% (16/83) 19%
1H FT (38/52 73% (24/35) 69% (52/68) 76% (20/29) 69%
2H FT (77/107) 72% (45/71) 63% (74/113) 65% (65/89) 73%

Iowa shot 52% from the floor overall (and from 3-point range) in the first seven Big Ten games of the year; color me shocked that they haven't able to maintain that level of shooting prowess in the second half of the season.  What is notable is that Iowa's three-point shooting has fallen off and really fallen off in the second halves of games.  Of course, three-point shooting in general has been hard to come by in the second half of Iowa games over the last seven games -- Iowa's shooting just 32% from deep, but their opponents are much, much worse, converting just 19% of their long range attempts.

We can also see a notable drop-off in free throw shooting for Iowa in these numbers.  They've been solid at converting free throws in the first half all throughout conference play, but they've gotten notably worse at making their free throws in the second halves of games of late, making just 65% of those freebies over the last seven games.  Meanwhile, opponents have seen the opposite trend -- they were making just 63% of their free throws in the second halves of games early in Big Ten play, but that number is up to 73% over the last seven games.

But what about just the last four games of Big Ten play, when Iowa's performances have looked particularly sketchy -- what do those shooting numbers look like?

1H FG (50/117) 43% (52/124) 42%
2H FG (52/119) 44% (54/126) 43%
1H 3FG (15/41) 37% (23/52) 44%
2H 3FG (14/40) 35% (10/48) 21%
1H FT (26/32) 81% (13/19) 68%
2H FT (46/72) 64% (42/50) 84%

Not much change in field goal percentage from half-to-half, although those numbers are down from what Iowa had been shooting (in both halves) earlier in the season.  Not much difference in three-point shooting, either, although those numbers are certainly down (especially in the second half) from what Iowa had been shooting from deep up until these last few weeks.  And free throw shooting... yikes.  Iowa's been doing a very good job of converting free throws in the first half... and a very bad job of doing the same in the second half.

Meanwhile, opponents are making field goals at roughly the same rates that they have all season in Big Ten play, although they've been hotter from 3-point range in the first halves of games and much, much colder from 3-point range in the second halves of games.  Opponent free throw shooting has seen the exact opposite trend as Iowa, though -- they're making about 68% of their freebies in the first half (right around the overall average in Big Ten play), but making a sizzling 84% of free throws in the second halves of games.  That number is well above the overall free throw shooting percentages for all four of those opponents (Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Penn State).

Of course, it's also worth noting that four games is not a very big sample size at all and it can lead to some screwy numbers.  Iowa had another four-game stretch earlier in the Big Ten portion of the season where they made 72% of their free throws in the second half.  These things can -- and do -- fluctuate, especially when you're looking at small samples or results in a short sequence of time.  The fact that one of Iowa's worst free throw shooting funks of the season has coincided with a red-hot free throw shooting streak for opponents has helped make games closer than they otherwise might have been and was a key factor in Iowa's loss to Penn State last night (PSU made 16/19 free throws in the second half, while Iowa made just 16/23). That shouldn't continue to be the case for the rest of the season.

That said, there are some downward trends for Iowa basketball's shooting in Big Ten play when it comes to three-pointers and free throws, which could be concerning. That could be evidence of tired legs, guys hitting the proverbial wall, and Iowa fading to the finish line.  Or... it could just be a slump.  Unfortunately, we won't really know which explanation is correct until the next few games are played and we can look back at the numbers. For now, let's just hope it's a slump and this week off gives the Iowa players a much-needed chance to recharge their batteries and regain more of their shooting touch for the last few games of the season.