Sometimes, it's as simple as hitting more shots than the other guys.
Iowa didn't rebound particularly well. The Hawkeyes committed 15 turnovers. Their transition defense was a step slow. The bench was as ineffective as it's been all year. They even shot under .500 at the foul line. And Iowa still won by double digits, sending South Dakota home from the NIT with an 87-75 victory at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Wednesday night.
The one the Iowa did do well was get buckets, which is a good singular thing to excel at in a basketball game. The Hawkeyes shot 57% from the field and 44% from deep, thanks in no small part to Tyler Cook and Ahmad Wagner combining to make all 11 of their field goal attempts. Peter Jok led the way with 20 points, and Jordan Bohannon was close behind with 19 points to go with his 11 assists. Cook registered 18 points, and Isaiah Moss (!) added 16.
Iowa looked surprisingly unready for the game, beyond the lack of preparation for the new opponent. The Hawkeyes were stuck on 2 points for the first three minutes of the game, and didn't establish a regular lead until midway through the first half. Nicholas Baer found himself in early foul trouble, and the game was just a haphazard mess on both ends of the floor early on.
Fortunately, Iowa had a significant talent advantage, and for as much better as South Dakota's execution was for most of the game, they didn't have an answer for Tyler Cook on the interior or Iowa's inside-out passing.
JoBo was particularly lethal from deep, making three of his four attempts, and getting the bench feeling some type of way:
— King's CowboyHat (@KingsCowboyHat) March 16, 2017
Iowa probably should have put the game away much earlier than it did, which is half a credit to South Dakota's resilience and half Iowa needing to just execute better. Once that execution came in the closing minutes — which coincided with more fouls called away from the basket — the Hawkeyes were able to open up a consistent double-digit lead. Lackluster or not, this season's Hawkeyes aren't going to let a team like South Dakota claw back from 15 down.
TCU's up next, and they're probably going to be favored, even as a lower seed on the road. If Iowa plays this well again, its NIT run's likely ending pretty quickly. That said, if Iowa shoots this well again, it may not need to execute on the other things a whole lot better. Sometimes, all you need is buckets.