Franalysis: Ball Screens and Improved Second Half Defense Pulls off the Upset Against #17 Purdue

By Matthew Lundeen on January 13, 2017 at 12:34 pm
Great offense, and an improved second half defense helped Iowa get revenge over #17 Purdue at home.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Great offense, and an improved second half defense helped Iowa get revenge over #17 Purdue at home.


Four Factors in Review

  Iowa 1st half PU 1st half iowa 2nd half Pu 2nd half Iowa Game PU Game
Points Per Possession 1.09 1.35 1.31 0.90 1.20 1.13
Possessions 35 34 69


shot chart
(Shot chart courtesy of ESPN.)
Iowa 2pt Near Rim 2pt Jumper 3pt FG FT
Attempts 40.0% 36.7% 23.3% N/A
FG% 79.2% 40.9% 42.9% 50.0%
Purdue 2pt Near Rim 2pt Jumper 3pt FG FT
Attempts 30.2% 17.0% 52.8% N/A
FG% 62.5% 22.2% 39.3% 84.0%

Like the last time these two teams met, this was the most important factor of the game. Iowa played a great offensive first half, but found themselves down nine at the break because the defense was leaving shooters wide open from distance and because they had no answer for Vincent Edwards, Caleb Swanigan, and Isaac Haas in the post. Iowa's defense in the first half was so atrocious that Purdue shooting a 70% eFG% didn't even feel all that lucky. Fortunately, Iowa's offense was shooting 53% and racking up 24 points in the paint by repeatedly abusing Purdue off the screen and roll. 

Again, though, Iowa was still down nine points when the second half started, but they quickly put together a 9-1 run to start the first half and cut the lead to just one point. Iowa's offense was led by the absolutely en fuego Peter Jok, who was knocking down jumpers at will. Iowa also continued to use the ball screen to great effect, and continued to tally points in the paint via those and a few well-timed alley-oops.

It was the defense, though, that was the story of the second half. Fran immediately switched to a 1-2-2 (some announcers say 3-2, but I'm still calling it a 1-2-2) zone defense to start the half, and even threw a 1-3-1 Purdue's way to shake things up. Iowa switched up defenses all throughout the second half, also using their 2-3 zone at times, and finishing the game mostly 1-2-2 down the stretch.

The constant changes in defense had Purdue thinking more than they were reacting, and they had a tougher time getting the ball inside the way they had in the first half. The result was a Boilermaker team that was forced to take more threes, but unlike the first half when 90% of them were open, a good chunk of the ones after halftime were contested. After shooting 7-12 from downtown in the first half, Purdue was 4-16 in the second half, which led to a 39% eFG% after halftime. Iowa, meanwhile -- led by Peter Jok, Tyler Cook, Jordan Bohannon, and Ryan Kriener (!!!) -- shot an absolutely scorching 75% in the final twenty minutes of play.

The second half swing in shooting was enough to give Iowa the advantage here. 

Advantage: Iowa


  Turnovers Turnover% Steals %of Turnovers Forced by Steals Points Off Turnovers Pts Off Turnovers Per Turnover Forced
Iowa 10 14.4% 5 45.5% 12 1.09
Purdue 11 15.9% 5 50.0% 5 0.50

Turnovers had popped back up as an issue over the past couple of games, but that was certainly not the case in this one. In 69 possessions, Iowa turned the ball over just 10 times and Purdue managed just five points off of them. On the flip side, Iowa forced 11 turnovers, which isn't outstanding, but they did earn 12 points off of them. 

My only complaint is that Iowa struggled to take care of the ball late. Peter Jok had two turnovers in the final four minutes of play that seemed a little reminiscent of the Nebraska game, while Tyler Cook chipped in one with 36 seconds remaining. Purdue only turned the ball over once down the stretch there, but fortunately it was with 58 seconds left.

It's hard to complain much, though, since this team still found a way to pull out a close win against a ranked team. Iowa survived the end-of-game turnovers, and won this category in both quantity and quality.  

Advantage: Iowa

Offensive Rebounding

  Off. Rebounds Available Off. Rebounds Off. Rebound% 2nd Chance Points 2nd Chance pts/Off. Rebound
Iowa 9 30 30.0% 12 1.33
Purdue 7 33 21.2% 9 1.29

Iowa didn't have their most outstanding offensive rebounding game from a percentage standpoint, but they definitely made the most of the ones they did grab. The Hawkeyes capitalized on their nine offensive rebounds to the tune of 12 second chance points.

Most importantly, they kept Purdue off the offensive glass, allowing just seven offensive boards out of the 33 available. Purdue did make the most of the seven that they had, but the fact that Iowa held them to so few was key -- especially, in the second half when their shots were no longer falling.

P.J. Thompson led Purdue with three offensive rebounds, which were mainly long rebounds because Purdue shot so many threes. But Iowa held Haas to two offensive rebounds, and Vincent Edwards and Caleb Swanigan to one apiece. Swanigan may have gotten his 17 points, but his eight rebounds weren't enough to keep his double-double streak going. Sorry, Biggie.*

* Not actually sorry.

Advantage: Iowa

Free Throw Rate

  FT Made FT Attempted FT% FT Rate (FTA/FGA)
Iowa 9 18 50.0% 30.0%
Purdue 21 25 84.0% 47.2%

This was easily Iowa's worst area of the game, aside from their first half defense. The Hawkeyes managed to get to the free throw line five times in the first half, but missed all five free throws. The second half was kinder, as Iowa shot 9-13 from foul line, and made six of nine in the final two-and-a-half minutes of the game. Still, though, Iowa's big men need to work on their free throws in the off-season. They can draw a ton of fouls, but they currently negate a lot of that value with their free throw shooting.

On the opposite side, Purdue was pretty hard to keep off the line, which is not at all surprising since they have foul-drawing magnets in Haas and Swanigan. Fortunately, Cook and Pemsl were able to stay out of foul trouble this time around. 

Part of the reason Iowa outscored the Boilers in the paint 40-20 was because some of the would-be Purdue shots in the paint ended up as fouls and trips to the line. While their trips there were able to help them in the first half, they no longer paired it with a 70% eFG% after halftime, and this category wasn't enough to carry them in the second half. 

Advantage: Purdue

Overall: Iowa Won 3 of 4 Factors



Coming off a rough shooting game against Rutgers, Peter Jok exploded for 29 points on a hella-efficient 21 scoring attempts (including free throw possessions), and tossed in eight assists, and six rebounds (one offensive), to boot. He made two of his three attempts near the basket, five of his nine mid-range jumpers, four of his seven threes, and three of his four free throws.  


The biggest difference in the way Jok played against Purdue this time around and last, was that he used their aggressiveness against them. Like I demonstrated in the preview, Purdue's guards were playing Jok (and Bohannon) a couple feet beyond the perimeter to take away any transition three attempts. To counter that, Fran incorporated more ball screens than I can ever remember him using in a game before. And not only were they running one ball screen, they were often running double screens, where the screener would set one on one side, and Jok (or Bohannon) would crossover back for the screener to set another screen. Purdue didn't change how they defended the screen -- they still went over the top and had their big step up to take away the three -- but Peter Jok (and Bohannon) frequently made them pay for giving him so much attention by dishing assist after assist to guys like Cook and Pemsl, who were rolling to the hoop.

To give you an idea of how unguardable Jok was last night in the pick and roll, I give you some gifs. 

In this one, Cook sets two screens for Jok. Edwards goes over the top of the screen twice, and Swanigan hedges out hard to take away the three-point shot. With so much attention on Jok, that leaves Tyler Cook with only the 6'0" Carsen Edwards as the last line of defense against the wrath that he was about to bring down upon the rim. 

So what happens if you don't hedge hard on Jok off the ball screen?

Here, Haas doesn't flash to the three-point line like they had been doing, but instead plays back and is waiting for Wagner to roll to the rim. (Something he had just beaten them on two minutes before that.) That leaves Jok with what is almost an automatic bucket for a shooter of his caliber.

Finally, Jok showed that he was capable of doing more than just shooting threes and hitting the screener rolling to the rim.

You can see a similar defense from Purdue. Mathias goes over the initial screen, and Swanigan hedges out to take away the three. Jok has momentum toward the basket and just takes Biggie off the dribble and finishes at the rim.  

Of course, Jok was also aided by the fact that his ridiculous shots were falling tonight, too.

When he is executing the pick and roll that well and he is making insane shots look easy, I'm convinced there is no one on this planet who can guard him. 

Tyler Cook also had himself an outstanding game. The true freshman scored 16 points on 13 scoring possessions, making all seven of his shots near the rim.


While I think Cook can eventually develop a solid mid-range jumper and maybe even a three-point shot, I 'd be totally cool if he didn't shoot another jump shot for the remainder of the year. Aside from that complaint, Cook played one of the best games of his young career against Purdue. He flourished in the pick and roll all night long, and even showed some nice back-to-the-basket moves. Aside from scoring, he gave Iowa six rebounds (three offensive), two steals, and he also shared the ball a bit, dishing out two assists. Watching he and Pemsl learn how to play together on the court is a thing of beauty. At least twice in the game, one found the other with an extra pass under the basket after rolling to the rim off a ball screen. Both times the plays ended up with a trip to the foul line. 

Last but not least, Cook also had two dunks -- the one you saw above, and an alley-oop toward the end of the game. I, for one, am in favor of bringing back the little back screen alley-oop play that Iowa used to run for Aaron White. I'm honestly a little shocked it took 11 games (for Cook) to see it. 

Tyler Cook Dunk-o-meter Games dunks made field goals dunk rate projected season total
Tyler Cook 11 22 56 39.3% 50 (25 Games)
Freshman Year Aaron White 11 5 30 16.7% 32

Jordan Bohannon also had himself a grown man game, giving Iowa 12 points on nine scoring attempts. He scored eight of his 12 in the second half, including knocking down two big threes. More importantly, though, Bohannon gave out nine assists and coughed the ball up just once. 

Like Jok, Fran called a lot more ball screens to help Bohannon deal with the pressure of P.J. Thompson out on the perimeter, and it worked to perfection. He also had a pretty crazy inbounds pass that gave Ahmad Wagner an easy layup. Seriously, the man set up Ahmad Wagner for easy baskets. No offense to Wagner, who is a solid defender, but making him an efficient offensive player is the compliment of all compliments. 

Nicholas Baer, meanwhile, was an absolute grizzly in this game. He only had four points, but he grabbed 10 rebounds (one offensive) in 19 minutes on the court. On top of that, he also blocked the 7'2" 290 lb. Isaac Haas when the giant was trying to dunk.

And in addition to that, he made a ton of hustle plays, throwing the ball out of bounds off of Purdue twice, and chasing down loose balls.

He's really a treat to watch, you guys. 

Ryan Kriener gave Iowa six big points down the stretch. With Pemsl dealing with a back injury and Uhl on the bench with an injured hand, Kriener got some minutes and made the most of them. He was a beneficiary of playing in the pick and roll with Bohannon, as all three of his shots came after he rolled off a ball screen he had set. He knocked down a few mid-range jumpers, but also made a nice move to make a reverse layup on Isaac Haas. Kriener's offensive rating is now over 100 for the first time in a while (small sample size alert), but if he can give Iowa some offense off the bench and maybe help defend scoring post players, he's definitely worth getting a few more minutes since he's been an outstanding rebounder in small spurts this season.

Finally, the rest of the team had some great moments too. Christian Williams gave Iowa four points in four minutes of play, actually converting on two transition layups. Ahmad Wagner got his four points in nine minutes on those two aforementioned layups set up by Bohannon. And Dom Uhl had an awesome baseline alley-oop, before later hurting his hand on the rim.

Injuries were a bit of an issue in this one, as Cordell Pemsl dealt with a back injury for most of the game, after making a sweet old man move to score on Caleb Swanigan. He played the remainder of the game, but missed some time going to the locker room and getting treatment. He was still able to score four points and haul in eight rebounds (three offensive), though. 

Isaiah Moss also got hurt, and I'm honestly not sure when it happened. But he only played three minutes in the second half, and Fran even started Nicholas Baer after halftime because of the injury. 

In total, Jok, Cook, and Bohannon were Iowa's best players in this game, but this was definitely a team effort. This roster may be young, and this season may be a roller coaster ride of emotions, but holy hell does this group have a ridiculous amount of fight in them. In four of their five Big Ten games so far, they have battled and fought to take back the lead late in the game. They fell just short at Nebraska, but they have come back and closed down the stretch in all three games at Carver. With as young as this team is, they could very well lose to Northwestern on the road on Sunday, but it's still really fun watching the kids grow up.

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