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 men’s basketball notebook | Hawkeyes earn two-game split at Rady Children’s Invitational

The Hawkeyes struggled against Oklahoma on Thanksgiving, but rebounded with a win over Seton Hall on Black Friday.
Iowa+guard+Josh+Dix+passes+the+ball+during+a+men%E2%80%99s+basketball+game+between+Iowa+and+Arkansas+State+at+Carver-Hawkeye+Arena+on+Friday%2C+Nov.+17%2C+2023.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Red+Wolves%2C+88-74.
Cody Blissett
Iowa guard Josh Dix passes the ball during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Arkansas State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Red Wolves, 88-74.

While most of the country was busy feasting during Thanksgiving, the Iowa Hawkeyes men’s basketball team celebrated the holiday playing on the hardwood in San Diego, California. 

The Hawkeyes were one of four teams invited to the inaugural Rady Children’s Invitational, an event sponsored by the University of San Diego’s Rady Children’s Hospital. 

Iowa split its two games in the event, losing to Oklahoma on Thanksgiving Day, and rebounding with a win over Seton Hall the following day. 

Oklahoma 

Entering the season, Iowa knew that it would be guaranteed to face Oklahoma in this tournament. 

But, the Sooners did their homework and came away with a 79-67 victory. 

Right from the start, the Hawkeyes could never seem to get their high-powered offense going and went only 4-of-23 from beyond the arc. 

None of Iowa’s starting five connected from deep, and only three Hawkeyes reached double figures. 

Iowa turned the ball over 14 times, which led to pivotal Oklahoma fast-break attempts. Prior to the matchup against the Sooners, the Hawkeyes averaged only 8 turnovers per game.

While Oklahoma only made 20 percent of its three-pointers, they were able to get to the basket early and often, which allowed them to race out to an early 10-point lead, from which Iowa couldn’t recover. 

Third-year forward Jalon Moore led the Sooners with 18 points and made all five of his free throw attempts. 

First-year center Owen Freeman paced the Hawkeyes in scoring with 13 points and shot 50 percent from the floor. 

Seton Hall 

Iowa had no time to sulk following its loss to Oklahoma, as they played the next day against Seton Hall, dispatching the Pirates, 85-72. 

Unlike its previous outing against the Sooners, Iowa controlled the game from the opening tip, and led, 11-4, by the first media timeout. 

After a six-point effort against Oklahoma, fourth-year guard Tony Perkins quickly fired up the crowd with a beautiful one-handed jam in transition. He then nailed a three-pointer on the ensuing possession, which gave the Hawkeyes a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. 

Iowa wasn’t perfect from behind the arc and shot 36 percent from deep, but it was far better than the previous game against Oklahoma, where they shot only 17 percent from three-point range. 

But, after getting out to an 18-point lead, the Hawkeyes nearly squandered it, as the Pirates cut the deficit to four points midway through the second half. 

Timely buckets from third-year Payton Sandfort and second-year Josh Dix allowed Iowa to weather the storm and gain a key non-conference victory. 

Sandfort scored a team-high 22 points, with fifth-year Ben Krikke close behind with 19. 

Despite only having nine points, Dix provided key minutes off the bench, while also snagging three rebounds. He says his goal is to provide a spark each time he comes on the floor. 

“I try to bring the energy and provide whatever the team needs by either being more aggressive on offense or getting other people shots,” Dix said at media availability on Monday. 

Dealing with injuries last season, Dix said he only felt about “80-85 percent” healthy playing as a first-year, but now feels more explosive and comfortable with physical play. Averaging 5.5 points per game on 64.7 percent shooting from the field, Dix is now the leader of the second unit alongside Iowa’s four first-years. 

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said that the trip to San Diego provided valuable experience for his team. 

“We played two really good teams that challenged us in different ways and obviously, we’ve got more of that coming,” McCaffery said. 

Freeman growing up 

Iowa enters the season with a young and talented roster that has given McCaffery and Hawkeye fans extreme optimism about the future of the program.

One of those freshmen is Freeman, who has put up big numbers off the bench in his young career and has proven to the coaching staff that he can provide valuable minutes off the bench. 

McCaffery has been pleased with the development of his young center thus far, and discussed Freeman’s recruitment, having heard of the player from a coach on the AAU circuit. 

“I thought he would be a great fit for us, and we battled a lot of Big Ten schools, but he was very thorough and committed pretty quickly,” McCaffery said. 

In just six games in a Hawkeye uniform, Freeman has averaged 9.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game and is a two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week. He is the first Hawkeye first-year to earn the award in consecutive weeks. 

Up next 

The Hawkeyes return to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Nov. 29 when they take on North Florida. The Ospreys currently sit at 4-3 on the season, most recently coming off a 75-63 defeat at the hands of LSU on Nov. 25. 

Sitting in first place in its conference, North Florida averages 75.6 points per game behind junior guard Chez Lanier’s 16. Attempting 291 shots from behind the arc, hitting with a 34.7 percent accuracy. Even with this shooting volume, McCaffery called the Ospreys an “unselfish team.” 

“They’re not running around shooting crazy — they move the ball, they share the ball, they emphasize shooting a lot of threes,” McCaffery said. “Over 50 percent of the shots they take are threes. They’ve got a lot of different guys that can shoot them. It’s not just one or two guys.”

The game will be televised on Big Ten Network, with tip-off set for 8 p.m. Central time. 

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About the Contributors
Brad Schultz, Sports Reporter
(he/him/his)
Brad Schultz is a sophomore at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in Sports Studies. This is first year working as a sports reporter and he has a deep passion and love for sports. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Brad is a contributor for Saturday Blitz, a college football site, with his content primarily covering Iowa and the Big Ten.
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
he/him/his
Cody Blissett is a visual editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a third year student at the University of Iowa studying cinema and screenwriting. This is his first year working for The Daily Iowan.