The Iowa Hawkeyes (4-1) were able to use a strong second half to beat the Cal Poly Mustangs (1-5), 85-59. C.J. Fredrick led the game in scoring with 21 points on 7/8 shooting from the field and added five assists.
Iowa got started strong, with the starters rushing out to a 15-4 lead behind Fredrick and Luka Garza’s nifty scoring and passing. Garza finished with 18 points, nine boards, and an assist. His best stretch was when he had an assist to Jack Nunge, block on the other end, and ran back for a quick basket.
Iowa got a little sloppy with the ball with many reserves in as Cal Poly flipped to a 1-3-1 zone and allowed the game to be closer than necessary, though Iowa did a good job defending the three-point line as the Mustangs were 0/9 from the three in the first half. The Hawks led 35-25 at half.
To open the second half, Iowa looked to Joe Wieskamp, though he struggled in post sets run for him. Fredrick came alive to sustain Iowa’s offense with 10 points, including a four-point-play and steal/layup. His day was done after running with four reserves until eight minutes were left and a 19-point lead.
The starters returned (outside of Fredrick & Nunge) and stretched the lead to 29 before the walk-ons and Bakari Evelyn finished it.
And now for some takeaways:
Fredrick can sustain the offense
Without Jordan Bohannon - whose absence now allows him to play against Iowa State and still maintain his redshirt - Iowa needed someone to come alive behind the arc. C.J. sure as hell did with a 5/5 performance from three. In his postgame interview with Jess Settles, he mentioned the confidence a shooter gets by making his first shot - a wide open three from the wing against a collapsed defense - and he never let up.
In addition to knock-down shooting, he just makes the right play when he is on the court. His hands are always up on defense, demonstrated by his multiple deflections, he boxes out every time a shot goes up, and he’s a very willing passer. He’s quickly become my favorite player to watch.
Injuries forced Iowa to go small (briefly)
Jack Nunge had a weird fall late in the first half and was unable to play in the second half. There’s no word yet on his injury, but Ryan Kriener filled in to start the second half and for a brief period of time, Riley Till and Cordell Pemsl teamed up in the Hawks’ frontcourt. During that time, Till had a chase down block and Iowa looked cohesive defensively without a forward guarding a quicker stretch-four type.
Iowa needs to be ready to play more of this, especially if the injury keeps Nunge out for even more time.
Iowa’s playmakers got a little too flashy
Iowa only had 11 turnovers but six of the seven in the first half were steals. Poly had 12 points off turnovers which was their most successful offense in the first half. Joe Toussaint was particularly loose with the ball, though Pemsl and Connor McCaffery also added unnecessary flair to the game.
Each guy had their bright spots, too, as Toussaint just GOES for every second he’s on the floor (five points on 1/7 shooting with eight (!!!) rebounds and three assists) and Pemsl added 10 points and three boards, while Connor looked as he normally does running point with seven assists to two turnovers.
But sometimes the easy play is the right play...no sense to get overly cute.
Next up! Texas Tech Red Raiders (5-0) on Thursday, November 28th at 7:00p