No. 17 Iowa basketball finds itself right in the thick of the Big Ten race following a loss to No. 9 Maryland and a win over No. 20 Illinois.
As usual, Luka Garza did his thing in the last two contests, scoring 46 points and grabbing 14 rebounds over those two games. He’s gotten help in the scoring department, too, as both Joe Wieskamp and CJ Fredrick dropped 18 points apiece in the win over Illinois.
Iowa has a chance to bolster its standing in the Big Ten as it hits the road to face Purdue tonight in the Mackey Arena. Bu before tonight’s game, let’s take a look at whose stock is up and down after Iowa’s last two games.
Stock up: Connor McCaffery
Connor McCaffery put on a clinic against Illinois. The point guard scored nine points (all on 3-pointers), dished seven assists, grabbed three rebounds, and recorded three steals. He did a little bit of everything in one of his best performances as a Hawkeye. McCaffery isn’t a sharpshooter by any means, but knocking down three of five shots from downtown sure helps when Garza and Wieskamp are on the bench.
In the loss to Maryland, McCaffery’s three points came on his lone make from downtown. He added six rebounds and five assists, too.
Above all, though, McCaffery put together a 12:1 assist to turnover ratio over the last two games. Unreal.
Stock up: Luka Garza
Another week, another “stock up” mark for Garza.
His 21 points against Maryland led Iowa in scoring, but the reason for his stock rising comes from his performance against Illinois. On Sunday, Garza scored 25 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, blocked a shot, recorded a steal, and dished one assist. He stepped up to be Iowa’s sharpshooter, making four of his nine (!!!) attempts from 3-point range.
With less than 40 seconds remaining against Illinois, Garza knocked down a cold-blooded triple, pushing the Hawkeye lead from four to seven points. When Garza gets cooking from 3-point range, he’s one of the nation’s biggest mismatches.
Stock up: Cordell Pemsl
Yes, you read that right.
Cordell Pemsl put together back-to-back solid outings off the bench. Against Maryland, he finished with four points and eight rebounds (five of which were offensive). While Pemsl doesn’t add a ton of firepower in the scoring department, he was able to battle on the boards with Garza on the bench and in foul trouble.
Against Illinois, Pemsl didn’t score, but he had four assists and a pair of rebounds. His +8 box score plus/minus was the only positive score from any player in the second unit.
I’d argue the best part of Pemsl’s game is his passing ability. He’s got a solid touch when it comes to finding teammates. He’s not the best on the team by any means, but he’s a serviceable facilitator for his size.
Stock down: Bench scoring
Despite Pemsl’s production on the boards, points have been hard to come by for him and the rest of the Hawkeye bench. Pemsl, Ryan Kriener, Bakari Evelyn, and even Riley Till have gotten in on the action over the past two games.
Despite going deeper than usual into the second unit, the Hawkeye bench has been outscored 43-11 over the past two games. In the win over Illinois alone, Iowa’s bench was outscored 29-0.
What stands out to me the most is the dip in offensive production from Kriener. It’s somewhat concerning, given how vital his game was in wins over Northwestern, Michigan, and Rutgers. In those three games, Kriener scored 35 points on 14-for-20 shooting (70 percent). He hit four of his eight 3-point attempts.
However, in the three games after against Wisconsin, Maryland, and Illinois, Kriener scored just nine points on three-for-13 shooting (23 percent), including 0-for-4 from 3-point range.
I don’t foresee Kriener’s impact shrinking going forward; I think he’s just in a funk. When he’s on, he’s a candidate for the Big Ten’s Sixth Man of the Year.