The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa wins exhibition ‘easily’


So maybe these exhibition games aren’t just showcases to try to score 100 points, after all.

The Iowa men’s basketball team had its first on-court action of 2015 on Thursday night, a 99-73 win, in a good old-fashioned preseason friendly with Sioux Falls. As it turns out, things weren’t exactly happy-go-lucky for the Hawkeyes.
“We made a bunch of mistakes early, which I wasn’t expecting,” head coach Fran McCaffery said. “But they got it together, and I thought we spurred it.”

As McCaffery said, Iowa got off to a slow-ish start, but led 23-13 with a little over 10 minutes remaining in the first half. Then, an onslaught of fouls and sloppy play brought about several firsts in a young season.

With 26 fouls between the two teams, Hawkeye fans got their first look at an angry McCaffery shooting glares at referees across the court. He wasn’t in all that great of a mood for much of the first half, however, because his team as had its first cold streak and first case of can’t-hang-onto-the-ball syndrome.

Twelve first-half Iowa turnovers led to 11 points for the Cougars, and a 2-of-9 stretch by Hawkeyes allowed their unruly guests to take a 34-33 lead with roughly 3:30 remaining.

The game remained close through the remainder of the half, tied at 40 with 37 seconds remaining before 3-pointers by Peter Jok and Mike Gesell gave the Hawkeyes a dishonest 46-40 lead at the break.

McCaffery and the Hawkeyes came out of the break having made some adjustments, however, and that’s why teams play these games.

“The reason you play an exhibition game versus a scrimmage is you can put guys in some game-like situations,” McCaffery said.

The Hawkeyes responded. They began the second half 5-of-5 from the field, including two 3s, and were 4-of-4 from the free-throw line. By the first media time-out just under the 16-minute mark, the ball was moving quickly, and open shots were present.

When the offense was at its best in the second half, Gesell, Jok, and Jarrod Uthoff being effective from the perimeter required too many rotations for the Cougars defensively and resulted in open looks all around.

“[Ball movement] is absolutely critical,” Uthoff said. “Moving it from side to side really gets the defense sideways, and it’s been proven. Moving the ball side-to-side is big for us.”

While that had been largely disrupted in the first half, 12 team turnovers was reduced to 5 in the second half, and the offense began to click more smoothly.

A steal and a fast break dunk by Gesell out of the time-out seemed to confirm that Iowa had found its legs. In fact, Gesell had 9 quick points in the second half, and after shooting just 3-of-6 in the first half, started 4-of-4 to help his team to a 71-51 lead with just over 14 minutes left.

“We just didn’t have the energy in the first half, for whatever reason,” Gesell said. “First game of the year, shaking the rust off, I don’t know. But you’ve got to give them credit. They came out, really attacked us, and played fearless. They really gave us their best shot.”

The Hawkeyes eventually left victorious and perhaps they got the best of both worlds in this matchup. They won by 25, got solid performances all across the lineup, and still had to respond to some adversity.

But they still couldn’t score 100.


Follow @KyleFMann on Twitter for Iowa men’s basketball news, updates, and analysis.

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