Like Iowa’s win earlier in the week, this one wasn’t pretty, but a wins a win and Iowa heads to Madison Square Garden 2-0 after a 93-82 over UW Green Bay.
It was another slow start for Iowa like earlier in the week, where the Hawkeyes found themselves down by nine halfway through the first frame. Iowa battled on the scoring front, however, and used 17 points off fouls to surmount a 47-46 lead at half.
Iowa was ice cold shooting in the first half, going just 1-8 from three, the lone make coming from Ryan Kriener, of all people. He had 8 points in the first half and is making a very nice role for himself in this lineup. Kriener didn’t see much playing time in the second half, where Iowa’s shooting warmed up to a more respectable 5-18 on the evening.
Luka Garza asserted his status as most dominant player on the court; he led Iowa with 11 points at half and scored 3 straight baskets for the Hawkeyes until Green Bay finally decided to double team him. That opened things up nicely for Tyler Cook, who ended the game with 17 points, tied for the team lead with Garza.
It felt like Iowa was this close to opening the floodgates in this one early on in the second frame, and eventually they kind of did, thanks to Cook. Midway through the second half Cook scored 8 straight points for the Hawkeyes and helped stir the drink that is the Iowa defense. Cook was able to capitalize on the double team Garza was drawing and found no issue weaving into the lane and earning a foul call—of his 17 points, 9 came from the charity stripe in 11 attempts.
And thank goodness for Iowa’s propensity to make free throws—for all the usual tropes that follow bad McCaffery teams—turnovers, bad defense, poor free-throw shooting—that doesn’t seem like it’ll be a problem with this team. Iowa shot 34-45 from the line tonight, 75 percent isn’t the best, but it’s not the worst either. Though I don’t think relying on 34 points off fouls is a sustainable gamplan, either.
Iowa committed 17 painful turnovers in this one. Fran McCaffery said Green Bay would be one of the best pressing teams they’ll face, and it certainly looked like Iowa got a lesson in running its offense on the 1-2-2 press. It gave Jordan Bohannon fits dishing the ball out to Connor McCaffery or Tyler Cook or whoever and they were often forced into a bad pass.
Iowa countered with a press of its own, and it seemed to work. Sometimes. The Hawkeyes forced an over-and-back during a pivotal defensive possession to start the first half and made Green Bay commit 20 (TWENTY) turnovers of their own.
Bohannon had as slow a start as you can, but ended red-hot. He played 19 minutes in the first half but failed to score, going 0-3 from the floor. He proved much more useful in the second half where he shot 3-3 from three and ended the game with 13. He had 3 assists and 4 rebounds on the defensive end, adding to congestion under the hoop.
The warts of older Iowa teams are still prevalent on this one, but this team is really, really talented. Luka Garza has some serious swagger. Connor McCaffery looks like a whole different player compared to himself of last year. Nicolas Baer is looking like sophomore year Nicolas Baer. Interestingly, Fran only went 9-deep in this lineup. We learned after the game that Cordell Pemsl twisted his ankle in practice and is day to day. He didn’t play tonight, however I like the lineup trimmed to where it is.
And that’s kind of it! Iowa takes on Oregon in New York City this Thursday. That’ll be fun! Maybe.