This was an odd, odd game. I'm just going to go ahead and start with the scoring chart because I think it demonstrates just how weird this game truly was.
Iowa started off the game by scoring 30 points in the first ten minutes of play, thanks to knocking down 6 of their first 9 three-point attempts. Those largely came while Iowa was playing a very uptempo game, pushing the pace of the contest by attempting threes a good 5-10 seconds into the shot clock cycle. Then Mike Gesell left the game with his second foul, and a few minutes later, Iowa would hit their last outside shot of the half; and their first-to-last three of the game.
During the final ten minutes of the first half, the tempo slowed and Iowa's offense looked lost. And, honestly, that's how they looked for most of the remainder of the game. There were some bright spots right after halftime, but the usual end-of-game woes struck the Hawkeyes, as they refused to close out yet another opponent and blew what was once a 12-point lead with 12:00 remaining in the second half.
Iowa scored just 8 points in the final ten minutes of the second half, and, as the game drew closer to an end, did the whole missing key free throws thing they always seem to do when the game is on the line. Not only that, they utilized a half-court offense that consisted largely of Mike Gesell dribbling the ball for 20 seconds and then taking a contested jump shot. Add to that Anthony Clemmons being called for a foul on a three-point attempt, and Quenton DeCosey making all three free throws to tie it and send the game into overtime, and I think we all knew where this game was headed.
Iowa had their chance to shut the door on the Owls, but they didn't, and another game was sure to be choked away, as a result.
That's exactly what it looked like was going to happen in overtime when a terrible Mike Gesell turnover led to a Quenton DeCosey fastbreak layup and foul that resulted in a three-point play that gave Temple their first lead since the 4:00 mark in the first half. That was it. That was where the game surely would fall apart. We had seen this too many times to think that any other outcome could be possible. This was meant to be.
But then, as if by magic, Iowa found their agency and revolted against the basketball gods that had seemingly wanted to turn this into yet another tragedy. Anthony Clemmons stripped DeCosey on Temple's next possession, and led a break that resulted in Peter Jok's own version of a layup and foul three-point play that gave Iowa the lead back. For once they maybe they wouldn't just allow the game to slip away. For once maybe they wouldn't be totally helpless to a predetermined, heartbreaking outcome.
Of course, things weren't suddenly fixed with Iowa. They didn't exactly shut Temple up and put them in their place. Anthony Clemmons missed a free throw that would have given Iowa a 3-point lead, the defense allowed Josh Brown to tie the game all too easily, and the offense continued to be little more than Mike Gesell bleeding the clock and praying he could get a jump shot to fall. But you know what? It finally worked. Mike Gesell dribbled the clock out and put up an off-balance jumper that was nowhere near the mark. But the fact that he missed rim entirely is the reason Adam Woodbury was right there to put the ball home and send Iowa onto the Round of 32.
What led up to that final shot wasn't pretty, but Woodbury's putback most definitely was.
Regardless of the process, the outcome of this game was so damn enjoyable. When we look back on this game in ten years, we aren't going to focus on the ineptitude of Iowa's half-court offense (though it will probably play a part in describing how astonishing the final shot was), but we are going to tell everyone where we were when Adam Woodbury hit the buzzer-beater in the NCAA Tournament to beat Temple. It was an amazing feeling to actually be on the right side of a game-winning shot again, and while I have my doubts about this process working in a close game against Villanova, it sure as hell did work in this one. And it was glorious. Absolutely glorious.
Four Factors in Review
First Half Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.11, Temple 1.08
First Half Possessions: 34
Second Half Points Per Possession: Iowa 0.94, Temple 0.98
Second Half Possessions: 27
Overtime Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.00, Temple 0.78
Overtime Possessions: 9
Total Points Per Possession: Iowa 1.04, Temple 1.01
Total Possessions: 69 (Due to rounding, first half, second half and overtime actually total 70.)
(shot chart via ESPN. Makes are colored dots.)
|2pt Near Rim
|2pt Near Rim
I have to admit, Temple did not come quite as advertised. The main concern I had in previewing this game was that the Owls attempted a three-point shot on somewhere around 38% of their field goal attempts and Iowa's defense was giving them up at right around that rate. But that didn't end up being the case on the day, as Temple focused on pounding the paint and being one of the rare teams that takes more two-point jump shots than Iowa does. The former part of that strategy worked well for them, as Jaylen Bond and Quenton DeCosey ate Iowa's defense up in the paint, and helped Temple score 40 of their 70 total points in the paint. Fortunately, of the few threes Temple did try, only four of them fell all game long.
Meanwhile, Iowa's shooting was... interesting, to say the least. They started the game looking like the early season Hawkeyes that took and made a ton of threes. Then, for the remainder of the game, they looked like the worst combination of that early season team and their most recent iteration. In other words, they continued to take a ton of threes, but they shot them about as well as previous Fran McCaffery-coached Iowa teams have from out there; which is to say, not very well. But not only that they also went back to their horrible habit of missing layups right at the rim, and don't get me started on the late-game free throw shooting.
But Iowa still found a way to win this game, despite shooting 32% from the field in the second half and 29% in overtime. Essentially, the early barrage of three-pointers they hit the Owls with and their advantage in trips to the line ended up being enough to make it so losing the eFG% battle wasn't a death knell. And if you need a reminder about how rare it is for this team to win a game in which they were outshot by the other team, this marks only the second time all year that Iowa has won a game where the other team finished with a higher eFG%. Honestly, this was probably the only true victory in that rare category, as the previous one was against Northwestern, in a game where the Wildcats' eFG% was wildly inflated by going off on Iowa's backups at the end of the game.
Iowa lost this category and still won the game. Please don't make a habit of this, Hawkeyes.
Turnovers was also an area in which Temple did not come as advertised on one side of the ball, while, at the same time, being totally as expected on the other.
When Iowa had the rock, we knew that Temple's defense wasn't a hyper-aggressive one that would look to force a bunch of turnovers, and sure enough they weren't. Iowa didn't have a turnover in the first half of play, and their first one didn't come until there was only 3:42 left in the game. They finished the game with a total of just three in 69 possessions, and Temple managed only three points off those turnovers for entire 45 minutes of game time.
On the other end of the court, Temple was known as a team that took care of the ball coming into this game, but Iowa's defense was able to disrupt their offense with their aggressive strategy of trapping and getting hands in the passing lane. The Hawkeyes forced 12 turnovers on the day, 6 of which were steals. Iowa was only able to come away with 11 points (0.92 points per turnover) off those turnovers, but the advantage that Iowa had in the sheer number of turnovers and the empty Temple possessions that came along with them were enough to tilt this factor in Iowa's favor, and help them overcome the awful display of shooting.
This was another category in which Temple surprised. First of all, Iowa had the height advantage on the Owls, and while height isn't everything when it comes to rebounding, Iowa's seven foot center is one of the better defensive (and offensive) rebounders in the country. Temple came into this game being right around average in the offensive rebounding category, but their performance in the second half and halftime was way above that. Luckily, Iowa was able to limit Temple to just eight second chance points all night off their 13 offensive rebounds.
Now, Iowa's nine points also on 13 offensive rebounds wasn't much better. However, Iowa's offensive boards came in higher leverage situations, and were more critical to the outcome of the game. More specifically, three of Adam Woodbury's four offensive rebounds were probably the most important rebounds of the game. Two came in the final three minutes of the second half, in which Iowa didn't get any second chance points off of them, but they did run another 20 seconds or so off the clock in each instance, leaving less time for Temple's offense to put any more points on the board. And, of course, his final offensive rebound was the biggest of the game, in which he sent the Hawkeyes to the Round of 32.
So, yes, Temple won the quantity portion of this factor, but it's hard to argue against the quality of Adam Woodbury's final three offensive rebounds.
Free Throw Rate
Lastly, free throw rate was a factor in which Temple proved true to their preview. Outside of Quenton DeCosey, nobody else on the team had a skillset that was conducive to earning their way to the line. But DeCosey still only attempted five free throws, and Temple had just nine all day. That's an issue when you can't shoot, are giving the ball away more than usual, and aren't getting second chance points off of your offensive rebounds.
Iowa, though, finished with 22 free throw attempts. And, yes, that number is skewed a bit, thanks to Iowa being in the lead at the end of the game, forcing Temple to foul. But still, Iowa was definitely superior in getting to the foul line, and they did convert on 77% of their tries on the night, late game misses be damned. Essentially, they made enough to get the job done, and that was all that ended up mattering.
Overall: Iowa Won 2 of 4 Factors
This ended up being the first game I can remember in a long time (maybe ever) that someone on either team didn't come away with a negative adjusted game score per minute rating. Adding to that intrigue, nobody really played out of their mind. Christian Williams had the highest rating, but that was because he made his only jumper attempt and grabbed a defensive rebound in 4 minutes of play. Instead, both teams were led by good, but not great performances.
Jarrod Uthoff's game falls into that category because he started off the game looking like he may have a great performance, but he struggled to do much on offense as the game wore on. He hit his only two threes of the game during that early blitzkrieg of outside shots that Iowa dumped on Temple -- including one of his patented NBA-range ones -- but he finished the game shooting just 2-10 from deep. Instead, he did the bulk of his scoring in the paint and at the free throw line, where he went 7-8.
He did lead Iowa with 23 points, but it took him 21 field goal and 8 free throw attempts to do so. Of course, I can also imagine fatigue may have been an issue, since he played 43 out of the possible 45 minutes. That being said, he also gave Iowa five rebounds (one offensive), two steals, one block, and got the job done, overall. Although, Iowa could really use a better shooting day from him against Villanova. And I would like to see Fran find a way to get him more involved in the offense at the end of the game.
After Uthoff, the rest of the starters also had mixed results.
Peter Jok continued his streaky shooting, scoring 9 of his 16 points in less than three minutes in the first half by bombing away from outside. Other than that, Jok missed his seven other attempts from long range and missed a few layup attempts that he should have gone up stronger with.
Anthony Clemmons and Mike Gesell, meanwhile, did most of their damage to Temple by facilitating the offense, since they combined to shoot 2-14 from the field. Sapp finished with 5 assists, while Gesell racked up 6 assists, breaking the tie he held with Andre Woolridge coming into the game. Gesell's 199 assists in 32 games on the season broke Woolridge's record of 193 in the same amount of games.
Then there was Adam Woodbury, who scored 10 points on 4-6 shooting from the field and, of course, scored the biggest bucket of the game. He only grabbed five rebounds in 32 minutes of play, but he did have three crucial offensive rebounds at the end of regulation and in overtime.
Finally, Iowa's bench gave them decent production in limited time. Dom Uhl did his usual thing of mixing flashes of offensive potential with a questionable shot selection that reminds us that he is still only a sophomore. (He also needs to learn to go up stronger with the ball at the rim.) Christian Williams made a jump shot that would normally be considered a bad shot, but it fell, so yay. Ahmad Wagner finished his only attempt at the rim and pulled down four defensive rebounds in 10 minutes on the court. And, last but not least, Nicholas Baer secured two rebounds (one offensive), handed out an assist, and scored a layup by trailing Mike Gesell in transition.
Overall, it wasn't the prettiest performance by an Iowa team that we know has the talent to play much, much better. Yet, despite the ugliness of most of the game, the Hawkeyes did enough to win. Sometimes you have to win ugly, and that's what this team did. It's something they've only shown the ability to do a few times this season. At this point, though, we aren't playing for rankings anymore. It's win or go home, survive and advance. And that's what Iowa did, and that's why they are advancing.