Iowa 106, Longwood 73: Strokin' It

By RossWB on November 10, 2021 at 12:01 am
go hawks go
© Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK
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So how did Iowa look in the first official game of the post-Luka Garza (and Joe Wieskamp) era? Well, they looked... different. Without Garza's low post wizardry and massive (figuratively and literally) presence in the paint, Iowa's offense indeed looked a lot more like it did in the pre-Garza (and pre-Tyler Cook) days: a breathtakingly fast tempo, plenty of ball movement, a desire to get in transition early and often, and lots and lots of 3s. It worked like a charm tonight, as Iowa blew Longwood off the floor en route to a 106-73 blowout victory. 

Iowa leapt out to a 9-0 lead, leading to a Longwood timeout to try and slow things down. Iowa responded with a 14-3 run and opened a 23-3 lead; Longwood called another timeout. Iowa built their lead out to 32-8 after that, quadrupling the Lancers in the first portion of the opening half. Longwood could have had 20 timeouts and it probably wouldn't have been enough to cool off Iowa tonight. Iowa ran out to a 56-29 lead at halftime behind 57% shooting from the floor, including 50% from behind the 3-point line (8/16). Another blitz for Iowa out of halftime pushed the lead past 40 points early in the second half. Things calmed down a bit for Iowa after that, especially as the starters exited the game and the second unit got extended minutes; Iowa only outscored Longwood 50-44 in the second half, as the defensive intensity lagged a bit and the Hawkeyes committed a few too many fouls on defense. But this was a rout from the jump and when Iowa kept the pedal down, they absolutely flattened Longwood. 

The star of the game was -- easily -- Keegan Murray. He'd been receiving a fair amount of preseason buzz and he more than lived up to that hype in this game. He scored a game-high (and career-high) 24 points on just 7/9 shooting, including a 3/4 performance from beyond the arc and a 5/5 showing from the free throw line. He also had seven rebounds, five blocks (!), and an assist. Suffice to say, he did a little bit of everything in this game and looked absolutely brilliant. He was easily the best player on the floor and absolutely bossed the game. Offensively he showed that he can do much more than just be a garbageman around the rim (though he's still very good in that role, too), as he showed off a very sweet 3-point shooting stroke, looked good at the free throw line, and was absolutely dynamite in transition. The "it's only Longwood" caveats certainly apply, but he looked outstanding in this game and we're dying to see what he can do against the rest of the teams on Iowa's schedule this year. 

Iowa also got a big-time performance from Jordan Bohannon, who seems to have adjusted to his role as the shooting guard in Iowa's offense quite well. His three-point shooting form certainly seemed like the new role: he went 6/8 from beyond the arc and finished with 18 points, second only to Murray. When JBo is on a hot streak (as he was tonight), there's nothing else quite like it. Patrick McCaffery was the third Iowa starter in double figures, with 11 points on 3/6 shooting (0/3 from deep) and a 5/6 effort at the free throw line. He also had four rebounds and four assists, though, and looked phenomenal in transition (whether he was creating, distributing, or finishing).

With Bohannon moved over to shooting guard, Joe Toussaint finally has the keys as the starting point guard and he had a nice debut in that role as well, finishing with 9 points (on 3/3 shooting), 4 assists, and 4 steals. His defensive presence was also appreciated; seeing an Iowa point guard able to stop dribble penetration was a very welcome change. The only Iowa starter who had a particularly quiet game was Filip Rebraca, who had just two points and five rebounds in 16 minutes of action. It looked like he was still finding his way a bit in Iowa's offensive flow. 

The star off the bench was Iowa's other Murray brother. Kris dominated the second half, scoring 14 points after the break and serving as the offensive focal point for Iowa's second unit. He finished with 16 points overall on 7/9 shooting (2/4 from long range), as well as 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, a steal, and an assist. If he can be a consistent contributor off the bench for Iowa, that would be a very big development. Combined, the Murray brothers had 40 points (on 15/19 shooting!!!) and 14 rebounds for Iowa in this game. Let's hear it for TWIN MAGIC, folks. 

Payton Sandfort was decidedly not afraid to shoot in his regular season Iowa debut, even if his shots weren't falling with much regularity; he finished with 8 points on 3/10 shooting, including a 2/7 performance from behind the 3-point line. His form looked pretty good, though, and he should be better than a 29% shooter if he keeps taking shots. He also had two rebounds and two assists in the game. Ahron Ulis had some nice minutes off the bench as well, finishing with 6 points (on 3/4 shooting), a team-high 5 assists, and 4 rebounds.

Tony Perkins was one of the few Iowa players who didn't shoot well in this game, going just 1/7 from the floor (0/2 from deep), though he did make all four of his free throws and had five rebounds and two assists as well. He also provides a lot of energy off the bench, which is a nice addition to the second unit. Connor McCaffery tied for a team-best 7 rebounds, though he surprisingly didn't have any assists in the game. He was also part of the only negative for Iowa in the game, as he took a few hard falls and ended up leaving the game; the first time he fell on his hip and seemed to get the wind knocked out of him, while the second time he appeared to get his ankle twisted on another hard fall. Hopefully he'll be OK in a few days. Speaking of injuries, Josh Ogundele didn't play in this game and was on the bench in street clothes; it sounds like he's a bit dinged up at the moment, though no details about his condition were available. 

This game provided a glimpse of what Iowa can do this year and it was a bit exhilarating. When this team is clicking on offense and the shots are falling and they're able to get in transition, they can absolutely torch opponents. They put together more than a few 6-0 or 8-0 runs in the blink of an eye in this game. Obviously, there's still a big "it's Longwood" caveat that ought to be noted when analyzing this game. Iowa was bigger, stronger, quicker, and deeper than the Lancers and that certainly made a significant difference in this game. We'll have to wait and see how well Iowa is able to perform against teams of more comparable size and skill and, as always, we'll have to see how Iowa can handle the slower tempo and increased physicality that comes with Big Ten play. Those are important questions and the answers to those questions will likely determine Iowa's ceiling this season. But there's a lot to like about the way Iowa played in this game and a lot to look forward to as well. The Garza and Weezy Era is over, but the Keegan & Friends Show is off to a pretty thrilling start, too. 

NEXT: Iowa hosts UM-Kansas City on Friday, November 12 (7 PM CT, BTN+). The 'Roos lost 71-56 to Minnesota in their season opener earlier tonight. 

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