Hawks Hold Off Cyclones
The Iowa basketball team shot just 5 of 20 from three-point range against Iowa State on Friday night. Had you told me that before the game, I would have said Iowa State won the game, as the Cyclones came into the contest as the nation’s best rebounding team. I believed Iowa needed to be better than what they had been from beyond the arc in order to win.
They were actually worse than what they had been shooting beyond the arc, but Iowa won the rebounding battle by two, forced 19 Iowa State turnovers and had a +10 advantage in points in the paint en route to an 80-71 win against the Cyclones.
The Hawkeyes shot 30 of 65 for the game compared to 25 of 59 for Iowa State. The Cyclones hit nine three-point shots but those game on 28 attempts. In the second half with the Iowa lead still in single digits, the Cyclones seemed to settle for chucking long distance shots; shots that were a good two or three feet behind the three-point arc. To Iowa’s credit, they were able to take care of business on the glass and limit Iowa State’s second chance opportunities. Iowa actually had 15 offensive boards to Iowa State’s 14.
Aaron White and Anthony Clemmons were the catalysts for the Hawkeyes. White had 14 of his team best 18 points in the first half while Clemmons scored seven in each half en route to 14 points and a team best eight assits to just one turnover. Mike Gesell scored 11 points on 2 of 10 shooting, but was 6 of 6 from the line including four late in the game when Iowa needed them. Adam Woodbury was also impressive, scoring nine points on 4 of 5 shooting to go along with five rebounds.
Of those four players, three are true freshmen and one is a sophomore. Sophomore Josh Oglesby added eight points, including two big three-point shots midway through the second half.
Iowa’s leading scorer Devyn Marble scored just two in the first half and finished with six on 2 of 10 shooting, but he held ISU’s Will Clyburn, their leading scorer, to zero points in 24 minutes.
It was the kind of game those of us older than 25 grew up watching in this series; intense, entertaining and full of solid play. There were more than 15,100 fans in the stands and most all of them went away happy.
Iowa State entered the game ranked 34th in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings and 44th in Jeff Sagarin’s rankings. No, it wasn’t a Top 25 opponent so you wouldn’t go as far to say it’s a signature win for Iowa, but this is still an inexperienced team in some critical areas, namely the two point guards and center who are true freshmen.
Iowa’s resume to date lacked a win against a team with a pulse; their two losses have come against Wichita State and Virginia Tech, two teams who were a combined 15-0 entering Friday’s action.
Iowa is now 8-2 and has a week off for finals before playing their next game against Northern Iowa in Des Moines. That’s Iowa’s last true challenge before beginning Big Ten play, as the Hawks will play South Carolina State and Coppin State before hosting the #1 ranked Indiana Hoosiers on New Year’s Eve.
Before the season began, I felt Iowa would be 11-2 heading into Big Ten play. If they can beat UNI next week that will be their likely record. Iowa also plays the weakest conference slate of any of the 12 Big Ten teams, but there are no truly weak schedules in the nation’s best basketball conference.
Some Iowa fans are clinging to the hopes that this Iowa team can play their way into the NCAA tournament. While I still believe this team is at best a bubble team and more likely headed back to the NIT, Friday night’s game was a step in the right direction. Iowa executed what it wanted to do better than Iowa State. That’s what good teams have to do and something Iowa had not done against Wichita State and Virginia Tech.
Iowa didn’t win its eight game last year until their final out of conference game, their 13th of the season.
Iowa and Northern Iowa will tip off at 1:31pm on December 15th, with the game televised on the BTN.
SEASON STATS TO DATE