The Iowa Hawkeyes were able to work through a multitude of problems from for the middle 20 minutes of the game, as they beat the Colorado Buffaloes 80-73 to move to 8-6 on the season.
Behind a fiery start from Isaiah Moss, who tied for the team lead in scoring at 16, Iowa got to a 28-18 lead at the 7:41 mark of the first half. After that, it was ugly.
Iowa couldn’t buy a basket and struggled to take care of the ball. The Buffaloes were able to take the lead at 31-29 with 48 seconds to go in the half. During that drought, Iowa had five turnovers and missed six shots. It was as pretty as it sounded. Thankfully, Maishe Dailey came to the rescue with a three-pointer to go up 32-31.
The Hawkeyes opened the second half almost exactly how they closed the first with six turnovers after scoring two baskets to take a 37-32 lead. Thankfully, Moss was able to get the ball rolling with four points before it turned into the Maishe Dailey show.
Dailey scored 8 straight points on four of Iowa’s next five possessions. He was absolutely feeling it and pulled up in transition from the top of the key for a heat check three to take the lead 53-51.
Iowa never looked back.
During the last 10 minutes of the game, Iowa cleaned up their offense and had only two turnovers. That’s a winning number. They were able to harness the energy from a virtual home game and made all the little plays down the stretch. They’ll never claim it was pretty, but pretty doesn’t go in the win column.
They avoided shooting their eye out.
- McKinley Wright IV was absolutely as good as advertised (21 points, 6 assists, 3 steals). He made a fool of the guy he was guarding on multiple occasions and had every tool in the toolbox on offense. He’ll be great for Colorado in the years to come.
- Iowa went to the zone early in the first half when Jordan Bohannon went out with two quick fouls. It had its moments, as it caused at least two shot clock violations but afforded Colorado a bunch of threes they thankfully missed. Iowa held down the boards well enough (43-31, good for an offensive rebounding rate of 38.7% and defensive rebounding rate of 72.1%) and had some solid weak side help on drives. They tallied five blocks and four steals, which might not seem like a lot before noting Colorado only turned it over 12 to 19 times for Iowa.
- Speaking of those 19 turnovers...many of the same ills which have affected Iowa this season against mediocre-to-good competition resurfaced for a large portion of the game. Stagnant offense, lazy passes, trying to do too much. It was all there. Thankfully they were up against a similarly young team finding their way. Learn from the bad, build on the good.
- The guard-play was...something. Dailey and Moss lead the team with 16 points a piece. Dailey was wildly efficient, needing only 7 shots to get to that total. He’s turned himself into the third guard Iowa desperately needs. Brady Ellingson played injured and tallied barely a minute, as Wright manhandled him in the lone possession he served as point guard. Connor McCaffery was great, until he wasn’t. The upside is there and if he can figure out the recovery from mono, he’ll be a positive factor the rest of the way. He just needs to be able to play more than two minutes at a time. Jordan Bohannon (14 points) had his absolute best game from inside the arc of his career. He went 3-3 and looked confident in the lane as Wright, mainly, pressured him around the perimeter.
- Fran McCaffery rode Tyler Cook (12 points) and Cordell Pemsl (10 points) down the stretch. They were Iowa’s best bigs, if for nothing else than having some experience defensively.
- This game had two absolutely weird moments. 1) Isaiah Moss took what appeared to be a clear three which was awarded only two points and never changed. Twitter said it was the right call. 2) A loose water bottle rolled onto the court during gameplay and resulted in Kim English, a Colorado assistant, getting hit in the head when he retrieved it. Iowa missed the technical foul shot.
- Iowa is 3-0 when Sherman Dilliard wears a bow tie.