On one hand, it's nice for Iowa to have some yawners against overmatched opponents. We're still only a few years removed from Iowa not having yawners against anyone and as the struggles of our Big Ten brethren like Purdue (against North Florida) and Michigan (against New Jersey Institute of Technology*) can attest, sometimes cupcakes can bite back. On the other hand, holy hell was this game borrrrring.
* Yes, they also lost to Eastern Michigan tonight. As amusing as that is -- and it's hilarious -- EMU is also ranked #132 in the KenPom rankings and might be ahead of two Big Ten teams (Northwestern and Rutgers) tomorrow.
Iowa never trailed in this game and used a 14-4 run to open up a 35-20 lead at halftime. Iowa used another big run (17-2) early in the second half to fully blow the game open, grabbing a 56-28 lead with ten minutes to play. Alcorn State outscored Iowa over the final ten minutes (16-11), but Iowa was in cruise control at that point. Aaron White led all scorers with 15 points and did most of his damage from the line (9/10 free throws). In fact, it was a quintessentially White offensive performance: all of his points came off dunks or free throws. Jarrod Uthoff added 13 points on 6/11 shooting (1/3 from long range) and, in spurts, displayed the aggressive approach and silky-smooth jump shot we want to see him from all the time.
Off the bench, Gabe Olaseni (12 points, 10 rebounds in just 19 minutes of work) and Dominique Uhl (10 points, 6 rebounds) gave Iowa nice contributions. Both Olaseni and Uhl were tremendous in transition as Iowa was able to open the game up more in the second half. To the extent that the game ever opened up, at least -- Iowa only fleetingly got out of second gear tonight and seemed to be conserving energy for Friday night's huge game with Iowa State.
Let's hope Iowa was also conserving their long-range shooting for that game, because if there was a complaint to be made about Iowa's performance in this game it would be the shooting, particularly from deep. Iowa was just 42% from the field in this game, but they were a ghastly 3/19 (15.8%) from beyond the arc. (Alcorn State chipped in eight misses from deep, too, so the Hawkeyes and Braves combined to go 3/27 from 3-point range; you could have built a nice wall with all the bricks that were getting laid tonight.) Iowa's poor jump shooting was basically irrelevant in this game because they could almost always get the ball down low and get points (and because Iowa's defense forced Alcorn State into a dreadful shooting performance of their own: 32.8% from the field, 0% from deep), but that isn't always going to be the case. At some point, Iowa really is going to need to make some jump shots to win.
It was very festive of Alcorn State to bring their own elf to the game, though:
Thankfully, the cupcake portion of Iowa's schedule is now over (give or take a game against Purdue-slaying North Florida in a couple weeks). It's time to take another stab at the main course: Iowa State comes to Carver on Friday. Bring it on.