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Takeaways from Iowa’s 98-67 win over Alabama State

Patrick McCaffery’s 22 points led the way but Brock Harding flashed down the stretch

NCAA Basketball: Alabama State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Iowa Hawkeyes (2-0) played tighter than their opener throughout much of the first half, with Alabama State keeping Iowa’s lead to 2 as late as 2:21 remaining in the first half. Payton Sandfort caught absolute fire after drawing a foul for two free throws and then made three threes (including a four-point play) and the Hawks entered halftime up 49-37. Sandfort closed with 17 points on 5/13 shooting and a team-high 12 rebounds while Patrick McCaffery led the team with 22 points on a crisp 12 shots.

Here are some additional takeaways:

Payton Sandfort played like the team’s best player

While Sandfort didn’t get on the scoreboard until 2:32 left in the first half, he stayed engaged up until that point with five boards, including three offensive. To start the second half, he was locked in, turning up court after corralling rebound after rebound and amassing three quick assists in the frame. He’s relentlessly positive as a teammate - regularly the first to celebrate a made shot or greet players in a timeout.

While he’s totally fine letting others score - Pat was fantastic tonight - he had a great sense of the game to put some distance between the two teams with his outburst to close the half. If he doesn’t do that, Iowa could have been in for a very tight game down the stretch.

Free throws were rough

In both halves, Iowa got the Hornets into foul trouble quickly. Unfortunately, Iowa converted at a mediocre 65.7% on 35 attempts, points they can ill afford to give up next game at Creighton. The biggest offender was Ben Krikke at 3/8, who otherwise played a very nice game in his second time in Iowa’s black & gold.

While Iowa struggled manufacturing points at the line, they did find success on the offensive boards with 19 resulting in 19 second chance points.

Brock Harding hype train

While Harding made just 2/6 shots, his impact went well beyond the scoring column, as he led the team with 7 assists for a second straight game. He also nabbed two early steals while the game remained in the balance. He did his most exciting work deep into garbage time with multiple dazzling passes to yield dunks for his teammates.

There wasn’t much standout play from his fellow freshmen, as Owen Freeman struggled with foul trouble and the tightness of the game in the first half forced the vets to take the floor for the bulk of it but Harding looks like the real deal.

Next up: at #8 Creighton, Tuesday 11/14 at 9p (FS1)