So how about that 18-point win prediction, heh?
Illinois shot an unconscious 55 percent in the first half to help propel the Illini to its third conference win on the year, taking down a struggling Hawkeye squad, 76-64.
There were a string of factors going against Iowa in this one: Peter Jok has a hurt back. Jordan Bohannon had the flu, apparently. Cordell Pemsl is ailing from a bad back as well.
And Illinois? Well they had a man (bun) with a plan.
Michael Finke scored 17 off the bench for the Illini, making 70 percent of his shots including 3-5 from long range while pulling down 5 boards. Iowa did a really decent job of neutralizing Illinois’ leading scorers in Malcom Hill (11 points) and Maverick Morgan (12), but it was Finke who the Hawkeyes did not have an answer for.
This game wasn’t defined by a few plays, but rather just a lot of really bad things Iowa did; many of those bad things can be broken down in to easily digestible stats. First and foremost, Iowa made just 7 of its 16 free throws, while Illinois went 15-19 from the stripe.
Iowa shot itself in the foot with missed threes, making just 5(!) of its 23(!) attempts. Illinois made just about everything, going 9-19 from long range. The Illini only shot 4 percentage points higher overall than Iowa did from the floor, but the three ball really hurt the Hawkeyes here. Bohannon somehow managed to heave up 9 three’s in just 21 minutes of play, and made just one.
There’s really not much else to say here. Peter Jok was a liability, especially down the stretch where he turned it over twice within two minutes while Iowa was establishing a small run. His defense was nonexistent and wasn’t anything special on offense (10 points, 2 rebounds, 4 turnovers), if we’re being honest he probably shouldn’t have been on the court, especially if his back injury is that bad after one week’s rest.
And it’s not like Iowa didn’t have guys to replace Jok. Thirteen different Hawkeyes saw the floor tonight, but Jok saw the most minutes, logging 32. This is puzzling, because Isaiah Moss has been a revelation when Jok is struggling as of late, but he saw just 5 minutes of action tonight.
Christian Williams saw a lot of time tonight, too. Iowa doesn’t really have a great plan B at point guard when Bohannon is out for long periods of time.
The lone bright spot for Iowa was Nicholas Baer, who played 30 minutes and tied the team-high with 12 points and a team-high 7 boards. He should really be starting. I get what he provides off the bench, but Iowa needs his spark from the get-go. Illinois started the game on a 10-0 run with Baer on the bench; I’m not so sure if that happens with him on the court.
Ahmad Wagner played pretty well, notching 12 and 5 boards, and I think Tyler Cook is making baby steps though he did have 4 turnovers. Ryan Kriener is growing too, he had 4 points and 3 boards in 11 minutes.
And that’s kind of that. This is a young team, we know that. It’s just really frustrating to see them struggle with the talent they have. It’s even tougher to see Peter Jok suffer through whatever is ailing him when he was off to such a red-hot start to the season.
Iowa has Ohio State at home Saturday night. At this point any win Iowa can muster in the conference is a good one, and beating the Buckeyes is always fun.