Isaiah Moss had his best game of the season, as the Hawks rode his 18 points in the first half to a seven-point lead at the break. The game was a back-and-forth affair through the first 9 minutes, as the teams found themselves tied 24-24 after a Moss three pointer.
Shortly before that point, Cordell Pemsl checked in after nursing his knee injury through the last seven games and provided Iowa with some much needed grit. While he was on the court in the first half, Iowa outscored the Cyclones 20-8. The most notable exchange during his time on the court was when he drew an offensive foul at the 5:52 mark. Michael Jacobson hovered over him as the Hawkeyes helped him up which led to a brief exchange between Jacobson and Connor McCaffery. Cooler heads seemed to prevail before Pemsl ran up to Jacobson and shoved him. All three players were charged with a technical foul and it was hardly the least heated moment of the night.
A lesser Iowa team may have allowed the scenario to affect their play. After just turning Iowa State over, they received two free throws and the ball down 10, 36-26. Marial Shayok only made the first free throw but Iowa was able to get a stop on the ensuing Cyclone possession.
Despite 10 first half turnovers, Iowa was able to maintain distance after Iowa was able to get two possessions in the final 41 seconds to expand a three-point lead into seven on a Tyler Cook outback dunk. He finished the half with 15 points on 7/9 shooting.
The teams traded figurative punches after the break as ISU defense tightened up. And then Nicholas Baer took over. With a six point lead, he had a hand in 10 straight Iowa points - two threes and two assists to Cook and Luka Garza - as Iowa took the lead to 63-47 with 14:38 remaining.
Iowa State brought the game to within eight points with just over six to play, and that is when Connor McCaffery got cooking. Iowa turned to him and he found a way to the rim or the line and scored all 12 of his points in the last 5:11 of the game. His heady ball-handling was a necessity as the Cyclones extended their defense and forced Iowa into predicament after predicament but they used timeouts to avoid an onslaught of turnovers.
The game was set to wind down after a missed Talen Horton-Tucker layup 38 seconds left but Iowa State continued to defend despite what appeared to be Steve Prohm calling them off (at least that is what the announcers said). They didn’t, so Jordan Bohannon took it to the rack and scored a basket to get Iowa to 98 points before a final Marial Shayok layup ended the scoring at 98-84.
Naturally, the game could not just end as Jacobson and Shayok poked at the ball before time wound down. Things were set to escalate so Fran McCaffery led his team off without shaking hands.
So a huge out-of-conference win which might mean something come March is likely to be marred by some drama Iowa always seems to find themselves in.
Such is life.
- First and foremost, that was a really good Iowa State team and they weren’t even at full strength. KenPom had them at 17 coming into the game, a shade below where Wisconsin was last week. Yeah, it stinks Iowa left conference play 0-2 but this was the bounce back they needed. Pretty much everyone contributed so that was nice to see as well. With over a week between this and UNI, it’s nice to have some positive energy going.
- It’s actually wild to believe how good Iowa’s scoring output could have been even in a game where they scored 98. They had 20 turnovers - Iowa State certainly deserves credit for some of that - but way too many were unforced and almost put Iowa in a hole to start the game. By my count, they had five within the first couple minutes trying to force the ball into Tyler Cook. They kept going to him with reason, though, as he was nearly unstoppable and finished with 26 points on 12/16 shooting, 11 rebounds (seven!!! offensive) and multiple putbacks.
- Joe Wieskamp played pretty well despite the concern around his ankle. Though he had just seven points, he had a huge play on an offensive rebound which led to a Cook dunk as Iowa State was making one of their runs in the second half.
- Moss cooled off in the second half - he finished with 20 on the game as Iowa’s second leading scorer - but they really didn’t need him. 11 of Baer’s 14 came in the period.
- Notable Iowa State stateliness include: 21 points from Talen Horton-Tucker on 9/19 shooting; 19 points from Marial Shayok on 7/15; Jacobson’s 12 on 4/8; and a solid but unspectacular 10 from Tyrese Haliburton on 3/6.