What a weird, weird game that was. In a game where the Iowa Hawkeyes (9-3) turned the ball over 24 times and missed 10 of their 30 free throws (including four on the front end of the one-and-one), they were able to right the ship and beat the Cincinnati Bearcats (7-5) 77-70.
They showed a lot of gumption. Despite letting a 15-point lead pitter away during the second half, they were able to right the ship to come away with the victory.
Bakari Evelyn stepped up
After two quick turnovers and a foul from Joe Toussaint in his first start, Fran McCaffery put Evelyn in with nowhere else to turn to shore up the backcourt. He quickly made two threes and looked the part in his most extended time of the season so far. He finished with 12 points in 29 minutes and flashed an all-around game, going 4/7 from the field (3/4 from deep) with 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Yes, the turnovers were a problem, as he had a team-high 5, but he stepped up when Iowa needed it most after Jordan Bohannon’s season-ending surgery.
What more is there to say about CJ Fredrick?
He led the Hawkeyes in scoring with 21 points, tying his career high, on 6/11 shooting and continues to look the part of a Big Ten guard. He was often bringing the ball up the court against Cincy’s press and just. made. plays. After one of Iowa’s missed free throws in the first half, he chased down the ball and helped secure the rebound. He took a defensive rebound coast-to-coast against three Bearcats for an and-one. When he stole a pass and converted it for another three-point play, it extended the lead to 15 and Iowa looked like they were about to run away with the game. He played 37 minutes and all 20 in the second half.
Luka Garza found other ways to impact the game
When opponents play Iowa, the first thing they’re going to decide is whether or not they are willing to let Garza beat them by himself. Michigan trusted their offense to keep pace and let Jon Teske guard The Peacock one-on-one to shut down Iowa’s perimeter. John Brennan decided he was not going to do that and brought double and triple teams to Garza and he performed admirably despite going just 5/12 from the field for 12 points. He got 13 rebounds which went a long way in allowing just one Bearcat shot per possession. He also had 5 blocks, the most by any Hawkeye since Melsahn Basabe against Ohio State in 2011.
Maybe it is an oversimplification, he didn’t let his offense affect his defense and it went a long way in helping the Hawks secure a win in Chicago.
Just win, baby!
The turnovers are horrible. Nobody likes the turnovers. The question going forward is whether there is a direct line to Bohannon’s absence and these turnovers or if this is a one-off occurrence. But Iowa is 9-3 on December 21st despite being a M*A*S*H unit. They have a kind of moxy which allows them to never get too down.
Joe Wieskamp had kind of a quiet 16 points but he added 4 assists tying his career high set against Syracuse. Connor McCaffery couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn but nabbed 9 rebounds and had a team-low 2 turnovers to provide a steadying influence with a team high plus/minus of +18. Ryan Kriener added an elbow jumper when Iowa was searching for offense and assisted an Evelyn 3 to stretch the lead to 68-64 inside of 4 minutes. The defense held the Bearcats to 0.90 points per possession and an offensive rebounding rate of 20.8%.
Everyone stepped up tonight. Iowa will need more nights like this because, even though it feels like it should, the schedule isn’t going to get easier in the Big Ten Conference.
Next up: 12/29 vs. Kennesaw State