As we have always known, it’s a Hawkeye state.
That was on full display tonight as Iowa nearly ran the Iowa State Cyclones out of their own gym. The Hawkeyes won 84-68 in a game that was not as close as the final score for most of the game. Iowa never trailed.
It was largely a clinic from Iowa in Ames. On the whole, the Hawkeyes shot 43% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc. They made 90% of their free throws and had 5 different players in double figures, led by none other than Luka Garza.
Here are the key takeaways from Iowa’s first win in Ames since 2003.
Iowa Wanted it More
It was obvious from the opening tip, this game meant something extra for the Hawkeyes. Every loose ball seemed to go to Iowa for the first half and the defensive intensity was a thing of beauty. Iowa was in passing lanes and diving on the floor - they were everywhere. That effort translated to better scoring opportunities.
While a trip to Ames in Jordan Bohannon’s 10th game of the season clearly provided some extra motivation, this has started to become a trend for this version of the Hawkeyes. They are playing with an intensity and fire, especially on the defensive side of the floor, we haven’t seen from a Fran McCaffery team all the time. Good things come when you work hard.
This Team is Balanced
One of the drivers of success thus far in the season, aside from the effort on defense and the glass, has been the balance on offense. As mentioned in the open, five different Hawkeyes were in double figures tonight. Luka Garza led the way with 21, Joe Wieskamp had 13, Connor McCaffery and Jordan Bohannon each had 12 and CJ Fredrick had 10. They were followed closely by Joe Toussaint, who had 8.
Wherever the Cyclones rotated on defense, there was someone open for Iowa. That open man was knocking down shots or getting into the lane. With that type of balance, this team is very difficult to defend.
That’s critical with the attention Luka Garza continues to garner. He’s playing tremendously well and as teams focus on doubling down on him, there will be open shooters. Tonight, those open shooters racked up 10 three-pointers by six different shooters. Do that all season, this team will be dancing come March.
Luka Garza is an All-American
Garza had another phenomenal game. He finished with 21 points, which will lower his season average of 22.5 coming into the night. But he also added 11 rebounds and drew an immense amount of attention on the offensive side of the court.
That will surely continue in Big Ten play, but as we saw against Michigan, the attention may not matter. The real focus is on the performances around him. Garza creates space for Iowa’s shooters. If they knock down open looks, this team can hang with almost anyone.
And can we just talk for a moment about this kid’s toughness? My goodness. He’s been beaten on all season. Tonight he may have lost a tooth. He took ONE TRIP DOWN THE FLOOR off to get cleaned up and was right back on the floor. The guy is unbelievable. His talent is immense, but his personality, work ethic and toughness will make him a player to remember for generations.
Jordan Bohannon Appears Done
As reported earlier today, this was likely Jordan Bohannon’s final game of this season. It’s a difficult decision for a kid to make, and Fran McCaffery has been clear the decision will lie with Bohannon, but if he is in the pain that’s been reported it shouldn’t be a question.
The question, really, is what this team can do with their senior leader cheering them on from the sidelines. Tonight, Bohannon willed this team through a couple tough spots with some timely, very deep threes. His ice water in his veins both when the team needs a big shot and when they need free throws to seal a win are irreplaceable.
But what we’ve seen so far this season is a group of guys who have taken on Bohannon’s personality. The team is playing with tremendous confidence. Everyone who launches a big shot believes it’s going in. Sometimes it’s not, but without the confidence the shots don’t even get taken. Guys like Joe Wieskamp and CJ Fredrick are taking on that moxie and using it to fuel their intensity on the defensive side of the ball.
This team, now sitting at 8-3 with just one more big non-conference game to go, is in a prime position to make a run for the NCAA Tournament, even without Jordan Bohannon. That’s not a sentence I would have ever expected to type, but here we are midway through December and this team has all the pieces, even if they play the majority of the Big Ten slate one shooter short.
Bohannon is a straight SAVAGE pic.twitter.com/tjTM12U2uq— Lucy Rohden (@lucyrohdenTV) December 13, 2019
Still a Hawkeye State
At the end of the day, it all comes down to the fact that it is still, and always will be a Hawkeye state. Iowa has won back-to-back games against Iowa State in hoops and three of the last four. They’ve rattled off five straight on the gridiron and Hawkeye wrestling hasn’t lost to Iowa State in 15 years.
It’s great to be a Hawkeye!