Franalysis: Iowa Beats Rutgers in Game They Would Normally Lose

By Matthew Lundeen on January 9, 2017 at 1:49p
Only against Rutgers could Iowa not score a field goal for eight minutes, turn it over 18 times, get killed on the boards, and still win by six.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

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Only against Rutgers could Iowa fail to score a field goal for eight minutes, turn it over 18 times, get killed on the boards, and still win by six.

points

Four Factors in Review

  Iowa 1st half RU 1st half iowa 2nd half Ru 2nd half Iowa Game RU Game
Points Per Possession 0.93 0.93 0.94 0.78 0.93 0.85
Possessions 34 38 73

Note: If you are wondering why first and second half possessions only add up to 72 and not the final total of 73, it's because of rounding. The 34 first half possessions are really 34.48 and the 38 second half ones are 38.44. Neither are over the 0.5 threshold to round up by themselves, but when you add them together they are. 

Shooting

Iowa 2pt Near Rim 2pt Jumper 3pt FG FT
Attempts 37.7% 24.5% 37.7% N/A
FG% 65.0% 30.8% 30.0% 69.6%
Rutgers 2pt Near Rim 2pt Jumper 3pt FG FT
Attempts 37.0% 42.5% 20.5% N/A
FG% 74.1% 12.9% 26.7% 50.0%

Note: Full disclosure, I didn't see this entire game, as I was flipping back and forth between this and the Green Bay game. So if I missed something, feel free to point it out in the comments.

This game was a near-disaster, but the shooting for Iowa wasn't as bad as the final numbers indicate. That's because Iowa actually shot a high clip for about 80% of this game, but their final eFG% of 49% was heavily influenced by the eight minute field goal-less drought in the second half. As Ross noted, during that time, Iowa missed seven field goals, another four free throws, and turned the ball over five times. Seven missed field goals are big, though, because without that stretch, Iowa's eFG% was 56.5% -- right around the 57% they had been sitting at most of the game up until that point. 

In the first half, the story for Iowa was three-pointers. The Hawkeyes took 15 of their 28 field goal attempts from deep in that half, and connected on six. The well dried up in the second half, though, as they went 0-5, but they negated that issue by getting the ball inside and to the free throw line. The Hawkeyes were able to get to the foul line quite a bit to help offset the shooting woes, but McCaffery's move to the 1-2-2 three quarter-court press also helped Iowa get some steals and some fast break opportunities. 

Rutgers, meanwhile, ended up taking a lot of two-point jumpers, and that proved costly. When they shoot right at the rim, they made almost three out of every four attempts. However, with their flurry of turnovers at the end of the game, their domination in the paint proved not quite enough to pull off the upset.

Advantage: Iowa

Turnovers

  Turnovers Turnover% Steals %of Turnovers Forced by Steals Points Off Turnovers Pts Off Turnovers Per Turnover Forced
Iowa 18 24.7% 10 58.8% 15 0.88
Rutgers 17 23.3% 10 55.6% 19 1.06

For the second straight game, Iowa turned the ball over way too much. And, also for the second straight game, the majority of the issue was steals. That being said, what I did see of this game -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- the steals by Rutgers seemed different than the steals by Nebraska. In the game in Lincoln, it appeared that Iowa lost a lot of balls that were just flat knocked out of their possession by active Nebraska defenders using their hands. Rutgers, on the other hand, looked a lot like sloppy passing from Iowa. I seem to recall the Hawkeyes making some poor passes into the post that were never open, and unsurprisingly ended up stolen. And the same with outlet passes, as Iowa seemed to try and get running, but without always waiting to see if their outlet man was open or even looking for the ball. 

Fortunately for Iowa, Rutgers turned the ball over 17 times to Iowa's 18. While Rutgers was better able to capitalize on Iowa's turnovers (in the first half, especially), their timing was also a lot worse than Iowa's. 10 of Rutgers' 17 turnovers came in the second half, and five of them came in the final five minutes of play -- again partially helped by Iowa's switch to the 1-2-2 press on a more full-time basis. For comparison's sake, Iowa only had two turnovers during that time. 

So, yes, Rutgers wins the quality and quantity portion of this factor. However, Iowa won the turnover battle down the stretch, and it was a big part of why they eventually pulled this one out. 

Advantage: Rutgers

Offensive Rebounding

  Off. Rebounds Available Off. Rebounds Off. Rebound% 2nd Chance Points 2nd Chance pts/Off. Rebound
Iowa 9 34 26.5% 7 0.78
Rutgers 19 46 41.3% 13 0.68

This is the category where Iowa got worked over in quantity by quite a bit. Rutgers not only swallowed up 41% of their misses, but they held Iowa about five percentage points below their offensive rebounding average coming into this game. The Scarlet Knights came away with 55% of all rebounds available, which was Iowa's worst overall rebounding game since Notre Dame grabbed 59% back in November. 

Moving back to offensive rebounds, the Scarlet Knights had better success capitalizing on them in the first half, when they scored eight points on seven offensive rebounds. In the second half, Rutgers actually tallied 12 offensive rebounds, but managed just five second chance points off of those. Deshawn Freeman did most of the damage, as he sucked up five offensive boards, but C.J. Gettys and Ibrahima Diallo also had three apiece.

To Iowa's credit, they did do better on the offensive glass in the second half, as they grabbed a third of their misses. However, they only managed 0.67 second chance points per offensive rebound off of them, so it was pretty much a wash.

Overall, this category, turnovers, and Iowa's shooting drought just about gave Rutgers their first Big Ten road victory. If you want to know how Rutgers stayed in the game by shooting only a 41% eFG% from the field, look no further than turnovers and especially rebounding. Because of those areas, Rutgers had 75 scoring attempts (including free throw possessions), while Iowa had just 64.

Advantage: Rutgers

Free Throw Rate

  FT Made FT Attempted FT% FT Rate (FTA/FGA)
Iowa 16 23 69.6% 43.4%
Rutgers 2 4 50.0% 5.5%

The free throw factor was big for Iowa in this one, as it not only helped supplement some iffy shooting, but they also helped keep Rutgers from having another avenue to negate some of their awful shooting.

While Iowa shot just 5-9 from the free throw line during their eight minute second half drought, they did make 10 of their final 11 free throw attempts once the game was really getting into crunch time. Overall, the Hawkeyes attempted 19 more free throws than Rutgers and made 14 more, to boot. The fact that Rutgers could only earn their way to the line for four total free throws, when they were shooting so terribly from the field, was also huge for the Hawkeyes. If Rutgers would have been able to supplement their awful eFG% with free throws, on top of winning the turnover and rebounding battles, Iowa almost certainly would have lost this game. 

Advantage: Iowa

Overall: Iowa Won 2 of 4 Factors

Players

 

Obviously, Deshawn Freeman was the best player on the court in this one. His 19 point, 13 rebound, and five steal performance in 31 minutes of play was good for a 1.29 adjusted game score per minute ratio, which was easily the best of anyone in the game. It was also reminiscent of other games this year when Iowa was eaten up by big men in the paint by teams like Memphis and North Dakota. Part of that problem also seemed to be that Iowa struggled to keep quicker guards like Corey Sanders in front of them and out of the lane. Isaiah Moss and Christian Williams both appear to be Fran's preferred defenders on those types of players, but both of them seemed to have a little trouble keeping the smaller Sanders out of the lane for a decent chunk of the game. (At least, while I was watching.) That being said, Sanders scored 13 points on 18 scoring attempts, Nigel Johnson scored 13 on 17, Mike Williams -- their other scoring guard --  was a non-factor in the game, and Rutgers was held under one point per possession (PPP) for both halves. So the defense was far from all bad. 

As for Iowa, we finally get to list Dom Uhl as the best Hawkeye player in a game. At 0.72, he had the highest adjusted game score per minute for Iowa, and he also had the highest plus/minus, as the Hawkeyes outscored Rutgers by 15 points when he was on the floor. (Second best was Pemsl with +9.) Uhl finished with 10 points, eight rebounds (three offensive), and five blocks. Despite his size and springiness, Uhl has never been much of a shot-blocker, but he was a pretty big force on defense in this one. We also saw an all-too-rare three-pointer fall for him, as he made one of two from deep. He was also aggressive enough on offense to earn his way to the line for eight free throws.

If Uhl can use this game as a confidence-builder, it would be a big help for a young Hawkeye team as the grind of the Big Ten schedule starts to wear on them. Fortunately, the development of Isaiah Moss and the scoring prowess of the true freshman that Fran brought in this year make it so Uhl doesn't have to be a big time scorer. If he can come off the bench and give Iowa some good defensive play, some rebounds, and knock down a shot or earn his way to the line here and there, he can be a valuable guy.

Aside from the nice game Iowa got from Uhl, Peter Jok was probably the Hawkeyes' second most valuable player. It wasn't anywhere close to a perfect game for him, as Fran sat him for a prolonged period in the first half with two fouls, and he only made two of his 10 attempted three-pointers. All that aside, he still gave Iowa 14 badly-needed points (albeit, on 19 scoring attempts), and he added to his career defensive rebounding season, pulling in 10 defensive boards.

Cordell Pemsl was Iowa's second-leading scorer after Jok. He gave the Hawkeyes 13 points on 11 scoring attempts. Iowa definitely could have used him in the rebounding department more, as he finished with just two defensive rebounds. However, it's also worth pointing out that he only had two turnovers in just 31 minutes, after his turnover rate had skyrocketed toward Anthony Clemmons' sophomore levels through three conference games. It was also good to see him make five of his eight two-point attempts in this one, considering he had started Big Ten play shooting just 9-22 from the floor.

After that, Jordan Bohannon struggled with four turnovers, but helped overcome that with eight points and eight assists. Nicholas Baer gave the Hawkeyes five points, five rebounds (three offensive), and three steals. And Isaiah Moss scored eight points on 3-4 shooting (2-3 from three-point range) and was tasked with the difficult job of keeping Corey Sanders under wraps.

The rest of the team struggled, which included, most importantly, Tyler Cook. Iowa's freshman phenom only scored four points, thanks to making just one of his six field goal attempts and two of his four free throws. His four points was his lowest output of the season, beating out performances in which he scored six against Virginia and Kennesaw State. He also -- I am rather disappointed to report -- failed to log a dunk for the first time in a game this season.  

Tyler Cook Dunk-o-meter Games dunks made field goals dunk rate projected season total
Tyler Cook 10 20 49 40.8% 50 (25 Games)
Freshman Year Aaron White 10 4 26 15.4% 32

Fortunately, he's still on a pretty prolific dunking pace, and one off game won't hurt him too much. 

Overall, this was an ugly, sloppy game played by both teams. Peter Jok and Tyler Cook struggled; Iowa failed to score a field goal for eight minutes of play; they gave away the ball on almost 30% of their possessions for something close to 75% of the game, before finally reeling it in; and they got absolutely smoked on the glass. All four of those events came together to create Iowa's third-lowest PPP of the season. Of the two games where they scored worse than 0.93 PPP, they lost by 33 to Virginia and 22 at Purdue. If this happened against any other Big Ten team, Iowa almost certainly would have lost. Fortunately, it happened against Rutgers, and this was just the third time all season that the Hawkeyes have failed to score less than one PPP in a game, and the first time at home. This was a perfect storm of offensive errors, but fortunately it's one that we shouldn't see too much more of the rest of the year.

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