Iowa men’s basketball prepped for North Carolina A&T

The Hawkeyes host the Aggies before embarking on a trip to New Jersey.


Dimia Burrell

Iowa guard Tony Perkins shoots a layup during a men’s basketball game between No. 5 Iowa and No. 12 Northwestern in the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March 10, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 112-76. Perkins scored 6 points.

Grant Hall, Sports Reporter

The Iowa men’s basketball team plays host to North Carolina A&T on Friday night in its third straight home competition.

Previously, the Hawkeyes hosted Truman State for an exhibition matchup on Halloween and defeated Bethune-Cookman on Nov. 7 for their 12th straight season-opening victory.

Iowa defeated the Wildcats, 89-58, thanks to an evenly distributed scoring output from the Hawkeye starters. All five Hawkeyes in the starting lineup finished with double-digit points in the contest.

As the Hawkeyes prepare to take on the Aggies at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery highlighted some important insights about the opponent.

“I like their team,” McCaffery said. “They’ve added some pieces, and they’re an interesting, proud program. They’ve got size, and they’ve put together some pieces that can be special.”

McCaffery pointed out that the Aggies have interchangeable pieces throughout their roster.

“Their frontcourt has more depth than they’ve had in the past,” McCaffery said. “They can go big or small, and I think they’ll play at least 10 guys, maybe even a few more. They’re comfortable going deeper [into their bench] with the group they have, so that will be a great challenge for us.”

Aggies solid offensively

Heading into the contest, the Hawkeyes and Aggies hold identical 1-0 records. As Iowa blasted Truman State, the Aggies dominated Edward Waters University to the tune of a 100-61 victory. A&T guards Kam Woods and Demetric Horton scored 22 and 19 apiece with efficient shooting splits.

“They’ve got really good guard play,” McCaffery said. “They’re aggressive drivers and scorers, and they’ve got guys who can make threes.”

The Aggies converted 50 percent of their 3-point attempts in the contest, shooting 17-for-34 on the day.

Hawkeyes spreading the love

In its first regular season action, Iowa showed that the offensive output this year will come from many sources.

RELATED: Iowa men’s basketball defeats Bethune-Cookman in 12th straight season-opening win

Tony Perkins, Payton Sandfort, Patrick McCaffery, Filip Rebraca, and Kris Murray all tallied double digits in the scoring column. Reserve guards Connor McCaffery and Dasonte Bowen pitched in six apiece.

Perhaps most impressive, however, is the number of assists Fran McCaffery’s squad dished out. On their 34 converted field goals against Bethune-Cookman, the Hawkeyes were credited with 25 assists. Perkins contributed five, while Bowen and Sandfort each gifted four.

Hawkeyes looking to flip the script defensively

Several players have taken offense to the stereotype surrounding Iowa basketball: all offense, no defense. A season ago, the Hawkeyes allowed 71.2 points per game, second-worst in the Big Ten.

However, Iowa is looking to reverse that narrative this year. The Hawkeyes held the Wildcats to 27 percent shooting in the second half and didn’t allow a point for six minutes after the break.

“I thought we looked really good on the defensive end [against Bethune-Cookman],” forward Kris Murray said. “I thought we really picked it up throughout the game, and I thought we switched really well.”

Fran McCaffery said his team’s effort on defense is paying dividends.

“I think we have a group that is committed to playing hard on both ends,” McCaffery said. “We have a team that can really defend. We’ve got length and depth, and we can put some pressure on the ball.”

History between the programs

The Hawkeyes and Aggies previously clashed just once, in a 2011 matchup ending in a 95-79 Iowa win.

Current Iowa assistant coach Matt Gatens led the way offensively, scoring 27 points. Forward Melsahn Basabe recorded a double-double, scoring 15 points and adding 10 rebounds, while Eric May provided 20 points.

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