Another tournament, another second round exit for the Iowa Hawkeyes (22-9).
As Ernie Johnson foreshadowed in his halftime tease, the Hawks have seen tournament runs end before the Sweet 16 in 13 of their last 14 chances, stretching back to 1989. The Oregon Ducks (21-6) ran Iowa out for the 14th time, 95-80.
Iowa was able to keep up for much of the first half, going toe-to-toe at 46-46 with 2:11 remaining. From there, the Hawks were held scoreless to finish the frame as Oregon went scored 10 straight. Particularly frustrating were the four points Iowa allowed in the last 47 seconds, where they had a two-for-one opportunity but yielded four points to the Ducks.
The Ducks were balanced in the period, with four starters scoring double digits and a fifth adding 7. They went 7/14 from deep and shot 59.5% overall against Iowa’s 3/11 and 51.5%. You can win with those numbers, but not with defense like we saw. In dual watching/listening on the radio, Jon Crispin regularly referred to Iowa as “defense optional” throughout the first period, an unwelcome reversion to Iowa’s early season woes on that side of the floor.
Garza got his to keep Iowa within striking distance, with 22 on 8/10 shooting.
The second half put the issues Iowa faced into stark contrast - going with the lineup who got you there, and deal with the lack of athleticism along the perimeter, or run with the youth and athleticism but propensity for turnovers.
Joe Wieskamp kept pace for Iowa, matching Oregon’s first five points with a couple baskets of his own, but things were officially off the rails after that. An LJ Figueroa dunk was followed by a Wieskamp turnover which turned into a breakaway dunk. Jordan Bohannon was called for a flagrant elbow on the pass before Chris Duarte dunk which allowed the lead to stretch to 67-51.
Enter Joe Toussaint, Keegan Murray, and Patrick McCaffery.
The group was able to cut the Ducks’ lead to 10 with a new burst of athleticism but a turnover by Wieskamp where he tweaked his injured right ankle stifled Iowa’s momentum. Though Oregon didn’t score on it, they were able to regroup on the media timeout and put the clamps on Iowa’s offense. After 4 first half turnovers, Iowa quickly had 7 in the second frame and finished with 12. The Ducks turned them into 12 points.
Luka Garza never quit because that’s what Luka Garza does. He finished with 36 points on 14/20 shooting and was the last starter off the floor, playing with reserves well into garbage time.
Whatever broader takes come from this game, the story of Iowa remains the same since BJ Armstrong left Iowa City. They simply couldn’t match the guard play of Oregon. Jordan Bohannon and CJ Fredrick were 0/7 and didn’t add any free throws. Wieskamp had a fine game and some very good stretches before the injury return, finishing with 17 points. Patrick McCaffery was Iowa’s only other double digit scorer at 10 points.
As far as whatever rest and scouting advantage was gained by Oregon’s “no contest” advance, the result renders it moot. Perhaps Dana Altman rides his starters (who scored 89 points) less throughout the high paced first half, but the right team one.
And that sucks, in a season which figured to be Iowa’s best finish in a generation, technically it was, with a 3rd place Big Ten finish. But when the lights came on, the story remained the same.