By the Numbers | Hawkeyes, Zags feature two elite offenses

Iowa’s offense may be the best in the nation heading into its matchup with Gonzaga.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon moves to block a pass during a basketball game against Northern Illinois on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020 at Carver Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes defeated the Huskies, 106-53.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

The No. 3 Iowa men’s basketball team has played up to its ranking through six games this season, and the numbers back that up.

The 6-0 Hawkeyes have scored 93 points or more in every game this season and won every game by at least 13 points. Iowa also brings experience into its matchup with Gonzaga. The Hawkeyes have seven starters back from last season’s team.

Here are the Iowa numbers that stand out heading into the premier game of the regular season.

No. 1 and No. 2 — KenPom offensive rankings for Iowa and Gonzaga

The two best offenses in men’s college basketball clash in Sioux Falls on Saturday.

Iowa and Gonzaga are ranked first and second, respectively, in KenPom’s offensive rating system this season. The Hawkeyes rank first in offensive efficiency averaging 118.8 points per 100 possessions, right in front of the Zags at 117.8. Gonzaga is also in the top-15 in KenPom’s defensive metrics, while Iowa is down at 75th.

The Hawkeyes are second in the country scoring 100.5 points per game this season, while the Zags are tied for eighth at 93.

Gonzaga is hitting 55.28 percent of its shots from the field, while Iowa is hitting 50.97.

Basically, there are going to be a lot of points scored on Saturday.

29.2 — Luka Garza points per game

And a lot of those points will be scored by Garza, the current favorite to win National Player of the Year.

Through six games, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year and consensus All-American is leading the country with a 29.2 point per game average. The senior center is shooting 69.1 percent from the field, and the Washington, D.C. native expanded his range in the offseason and is hitting a blistering 68.4 percent of his shots from beyond the 3-point arc.

Garza has more points this season (175) than minutes played (149).

Garza’s hands and feet in the post are unmatched, and he commands a double team. When only a single player stands in the way of Garza and the basket, might as well chalk up two points for Iowa.

Saturday’s game features three of the top 16 scorers in the nation. Along with Garza, Gonzaga’s Drew Timme and Corey Kispert rank 11th and 16th in scoring with 23.3 and 22.3 points per game, respectively.

24 — Assists per game, most in the nation

The Hawkeye half-court offense prioritizes ball movement. Feeding Garza in the post is also a necessary skill for Iowa’s ball handlers. Both those points are reflected in the team’s assist statistics. Iowa shares the ball and is also careful with it. The team leads the country in both assists per game (24) and assist to turnover ratio this season (2.57).

Connor McCaffery led the country in assist to turnover ratio last season at 4.6. Early this season, he sits at 13th in the country with a mark of 6.50.

McCaffery, Bohannon, Joe Toussaint, and the other Hawkeyes bringing the ball up the court have been successful the past two seasons in feeding Garza in the post, no matter how heavily the opposing team is guarding him. Garza is also capable of making the extra pass to find an open shooter on the perimeter.

Four — Hawkeyes with 10 more 3-pointers

Garza is tied for the Iowa lead with 13 made shots from beyond the 3-point arc this season, and he has a trio of shooters around him that have benefited from all the attention Garza receives in the paint.

Jordan Bohannon is the program’s all-time leader in 3-pointers and drained seven in Iowa’s victory over North Carolina earlier this season. C.J. Fredrick led the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage last season at 46.1 percent, and Joe Wieskamp is among the best sharpshooters in the conference.

Iowa is tied for sixth in the country making 11.7 3-pointers per game this season.

Opposing teams are hitting 34.3 percent of their 3-point shots against Gonzaga this season.

Four — Different second-leading scorers this season

Iowa’s offense is built around Garza but is more than just one player.

Garza has been Iowa’s leading scorer in five of the team’s six games this season, including a 41-point performance against Southern in game No. 2. But the Hawkeyes have had four different players finish second in scoring this year. That list includes Patrick McCaffery, Wieskamp, Jack Nunge, and Fredrick.

Bohannon also led Iowa with 24 points against North Carolina, when Garza was “only” Iowa’s fourth-leading scorer with 16 points.

Fran McCaffery has lots of scoring options on his team, including several off the bench. Iowa’s 11th-year head coach has said this is the best offensive team he’s ever been around, and that’s been evident on the court this season.