One cupcake down, two to go. Iowa kicked off the empty calorie-laden home stretch of their non-conference schedule with an easy win over Western Carolina, 78-60. Iowa trailed once in this game (when WCU made a three to give themselves a 10-9 lead almost five minutes into the game), but Iowa responded to that brief deficit by taking control of the game with a 17-5 lead. They ended the half on a 20-9 run and led 48-29 at the break. The second half was mainly a lazy saunter to the finish line; Iowa's offense wasn't as sharp as it had been in the first half and they managed only 30 points on 33% shooting. But you can afford to cool off with a 19-point halftime lead and this was never in any sort of jeopardy after Iowa jumped out to that big lead.
In his preview, Pat noted that Western Carolina had an absolutely ghastly turnover rate (26.6%, 352nd nationally). They lived down to that stat in this game, particularly in the first half, when they gave the ball away 15 times, which turned into 18 Iowa points. They turned the ball over almost as often as they took a shot in the first half (17 FGA), which is a problem. They actually shot very well in the first half (11/17, or almost 65%), but that doesn't matter if you give the ball away as often as you actually shoot it. For the game, WCU had 26 turnovers (!) and a horrendous 37.1% turnover rate. You will most likely not win any game if you give the ball away like Santa giving away presents on Christmas Eve. Those 26 Catamount giveaways turned into 27 Iowa points.
Once again, Iowa's post players led the way for the offense. Tyler Cook had 18 points on 6/12 shooting (6/8 free throws), five rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block. Luka Garza had 15 points on on 5/9 shooting (4/5 free throws), six rebounds, and two steals. Joe Wieskamp was the only other Iowa player in double figure, with 10, all of which game in the first half. Isaiah Moss and Connor McCaffery added nine points apiece and were also Iowa's leading passers; Moss had four assists and McCaffery had five. Nicholas Baer had four points, but was an absolute nuisance on the defensive end -- he tallied four blocks and three steals in his 24 minutes on the court.
— Iowa Basketball (@IowaHoops) December 19, 2018
Iowa got knocked around a bit by the Catamounts, though there don't appear to be any serious concerns on the injury front:
McCaffery says Kriener suffered an ankle injury, doesnt believe its serious. Connor McCaffery took a hit to the head and was feeling dizzy. Hopes its not a concussion. Team is off tomorrow, which is for the best
— MarkEmmert (@MarkEmmert) December 19, 2018
Honestly, the most exciting thing about this game was the half-court shot made by an Iowa fan during a break in the action:
— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) December 19, 2018
He was a better long-distance shooter than anyone in an actual Iowa uniform tonight, really. SIGN HIM UP, FRAN!
If you need a few more highlights from this game, click here.
NEXT: Iowa hosts Savannah State (3-9, KenPom #343) on Saturday, December 22 (12 PM CT, BTN Plus).