The bad times continued to roll in Iowa sports as the Hawkeyes lost to the South Dakota State Jackrabbits by a near identical score from yesterday, 80-71.
Though the Hawkeyes came out better offensively in the first half, they shot themselves in the foot continuously on defense. SDSU was able to make 4 of 9 threes and added another 6 free throws on two fouls from three point attempts. They finished 10 of 20 from behind the arc. Three Jackrabbit guards - Tevin King, David Jenkins Jr., Reed Tellinghuisen - combined for 54 points.
The only time Iowa showed defensive prowess was midway through the second half when they threw out a press headed by Ahmad Wagner. After going on a 7-0 run (on two turnovers forced by Ahmad Wagner and five points from him) to close it to a one-point game, Fran McCaffery subbed in Jack Nunge who did not bring the same swarming energy as Wagner atop the defense.
Isaiah Moss led the Hawkeyes in scoring with 18 points on 8/16 shooting and Nunge (14), Wagner (11), and Tyler Cook (11) joined him in double figures.
The player of the game for me was Wagner for his effort to close the gap in the second half. They also jumped to an 8-0 lead in the first half behind two of his baskets. Fran is going to need to be more willing to adjust his rotations (Nunge has closed every close game at the three) in instances like today.
It was another frustrating game lowlighted by mistakes of youth - 15 turnovers, defensive lapses, inconsistent free throw shooting. There still remains a lot to figure out and it’s probably not too early to readjust expectations to what we had last year. This is still the youngest team in the Big Ten (even younger than last year, per KenPom) and they remain without Nick Baer. His intangibles are sorely missed and were only matched yesterday and today during a three minute stretch by Wagner.
They’ll play the loser of UAB/Buffalo tomorrow in their least favorite timeslot (11:00 AM CST).