Hawks to 5-0; Defense Leading the Way
Iowa is off to a 5-0 start this season and they are getting it done with their defense.
The Hawkeyes beat Western Kentucky 63-55 in Cancun on Tuesday and has held all five of their opponents to 61 points or less. Through four games, Iowa had held their opponents to 33.3% shooting from the floor. WKU shot 33.3% from the floor on Tuesday night.
Mike Gesell led Iowa with 19 points. He got Iowa going in the first half with a pair of three point shots and scored key buckets in the second half to help the Hawkeyes maintain a double-digit lead. Adam Woodbury provided a boost early in the second half and Melsahn Basabe carried Iowa on both ends during a four-minute stretch in the second half. Basabe finished with 11 points, five rebounds and four blocked shots.
Iowa led 30-22 at the half and WKU cut the lead to 36-30 with 13:32 to play in the game. That’s when Gesell answered with a short jumper and Basabe hit a pair of free throws to move Iowa’s lead back to double digits. WKU pulled to within seven a few times but the Hawkeyes were able to keep a nice lead throughout the entire second half to pull out the win. Iowa never trailed in the game.
The Hawkeyes were 22-47 from the floor, a solid 46.8%, but the Hawks were plagued by 18 turnovers which led to WKU having a 60 to 47 field goal attempt advantage.
It was a tough night offensively for Aaron White, who scored just two points in 29 minutes. He was a key figure in the WKU scouting report as he was only able to attempt two shots on the night, one of them a dunk after a defensive breakdown. Devyn Marble struggled for the first 38 minutes but hit a key shot late in the game and also knocked down some free throws. He scored 10 points and had four assits but did a good job on the defensive end. I’d say the same thing about White; both he and Marble struggled to get anything going on offense but they did not let it affect their defense.
That has become a theme so far on the season; poor offense is not affecting defense. It didn’t on Saturday night when Iowa fell behind by 23 points to Gardner Webb and it didn’t on Tuesday night pursuant to Marble and White.
Zach McCabe scored nine points and grabbed five boards before fouling out. Eric May added eight points and six rebounds while Adam Woodbury had four points and six rebounds. He was not credited with any blocks but it appeared like he had at least two as well as altering a few more shots. Woodbury did not come out of high school with a shot blocker’s reputation but he is definitely contributing positively on both ends of the court when he is in the game; he played 13 minutes.
Marble was the only Hawkeye to play more than 29 minutes (he played 33). Gesell and White played 29, McCabe 21, Basabe 24 and May 28. Iowa should have decent legs tomorrow night when they play against Wichita State in the Cancun Challenge Championship game.
Western Kentucky is the highest rated foe (per Ken Pomeroy) Iowa has played this season, but Wichita State will take over that ‘title’ come Wednesday; they were rated 47th on Tuesday night where Iowa was rated 52nd. They are a good defensive team and it may be another game scored in the 60′s or low 70′s. They have not been a good three-point shooting team so far this year but they are very good at the free throw line.
Iowa is off to a 5-0 start for the first time since November of 2008. Iowa has not started a season 6-0 since the start of the 2003-2004 season.
The game should tip off around 8:30pm on Wednesday, following the DePaul-Western Kentucky game which will tip off at 6:00pm. The game will once again be televised on CBS Sports Network.
IOWA SEASON STATS