Threes and offensive rebounds were again the key for Iowa, as they extended their win streak to four games with their victory over Penn State.
Four Factors in Review
|Iowa 1st half||PSU 1st half||iowa 2nd half||PSU 2nd half||Iowa Game||PSU Game|
|Points Per Possession||1.34||1.03||1.15||1.15||1.24||1.09|
|Iowa||2pt Near Rim||2pt Jumper||3pt FG||FT|
|Penn State||2pt Near Rim||2pt Jumper||3pt FG||FT|
Iowa's offense continued to hum along rather smoothly on Sunday, and a good chunk of it was again thanks to hot three-point shooting. Iowa's 12-21 performance in this one marked the third-straight game where the Hawkeyes have made at least 47% of their attempts from beyond the arc. Peter Jok found his stroke from deep in the second half of this game, connecting on four of his five three-point attempts on the day. Meanwhile, Nicholas Baer also continued his three-point assault on opposing teams, as he went a perfect 4-4 from long range against Penn State's Top 50 Kenpom defense.
Iowa's offense also pushed the tempo all day long, using their transition game to not only get some of the threes I just mentioned, but to also get easy baskets inside. Despite being an athletic team that loves to get up and down the court the way Iowa does, Penn State had trouble locating Tyler Cook and Cordell Pemsl on the break, and both guys got a number of layups because of it.
As for Penn State, well, the biggest weakness on display for them yesterday was their lack of shooters. They don't generally take a ton of threes because because of that glaring hole on their roster, but they did against Iowa because this year's Hawkeye defense has a knack for leaving their opponents open on the perimeter. On the season, the Nittany Lions have attempted a three-pointer on about 34% of their field goal attempts. In this game, they did so on 40%. Fortunately, they made just eight of their 28 tries from long range, and could never take advantage of a number of good looks Iowa's zone defense usually gave them.
When Penn State's offense was really clicking at the end of the game, it was usually driven by the fact that they were able to get out on the run. 10 of the 27 points they scored in the final 10 minutes of the game were fast break points. Three of those came off Iowa turnovers, while one came off a Mike Watkins blocked shot and outlet pass, and the final one came off a defensive rebound.
Overall, Penn State shot the ball almost as well as Iowa did, thanks to their late-game run. However, the Hawkeyes were much better from deep, and helped supplement their meh conversion rate at the rim by making 84% of their free throws.
|Turnovers||Turnover%||Steals||%of Turnovers Forced by Steals||Points Off Turnovers||Pts Off Turnovers Per Turnover Forced|
Turnovers never really played a huge part in this game. Both teams are among the best in the Big Ten at creating turnovers this season, but both offenses did a nice job of holding onto the ball.
If Iowa hadn't turned the ball over five times inside the last ten minutes of the game, they would have won all four factors. Instead, both teams pretty much canceled each other out here.
|Off. Rebounds||Available Off. Rebounds||Off. Rebound%||2nd Chance Points||2nd Chance pts/Off. Rebound|
Offensive rebounding was the other important category for the Hawkeyes against Penn State. Whenever Iowa's shot didn't fall, they quite often collected their own miss and scored on the putback. Nicholas Baer and Cordell Pemsl led the way with four offensive rebounds a piece, while Tyler Cook and Ahmad Wagner both had two. In total, Iowa scored 27 second chance points on 14 total offensive rebounds. Their 1.93 second chance points per offensive rebound is their second-highest rate of the season, just behind the full two second chance points per offensive rebound they averaged at Maryland.
And while nobody on Iowa but Tyler Cook and Nicholas Baer looked all that great on the defensive glass, Penn State still wasn't able to take advantage of their extra opportunities on the day.
Free Throw Rate
|FT Made||FT Attempted||FT%||FT Rate (FTA/FGA)|
Free throws were spread around fairly evenly on Sunday for Iowa, but Peter Jok still led the team by making five of his six attempts. On defense, meanwhile, Iowa did their usual thing of abstaining from fouling. That's always a good thing.
Most importantly, yesterday's performance was the third in four games where Iowa has made over 80% of their free throws. And, going back even further, Iowa has now made at least 71% of their free ones in seven of their last eight games.
Overall: Iowa Won 3 of 4 Factors
Since it was Senior Day, I'll start with the Hawkeyes' grizzled vets. Peter Jok had a first half to forget, scoring just one point and going to the bench after five minutes with two fouls. Fortunately, he was able to salvage his Senior Day by scoring 20 points in the second half, 11 of which came in the first three minutes after halftime. He only made two of his seven two point attempts on the day, but he was feeling it from the outside, making four of his five tries from out there.
It was a sight to see on what may have been his final game in Carver-Hawkeye, as Jok looked pretty close to the healthy sharpshooter we saw for the first three months of the season.
Also, for a free throw update, Jok has now made 150 of the 163 free ones he's attempted this year. That puts him at 92.0% on the season, just behind [REDACTED] whose single-season Big Ten record sits at 92.1%. If Jok makes his next free throw attempt, he will also round up to 92.1%, but would technically take the lead by 0.01 percentage points. In other words, Jok still has a good shot of breaking the record. Although, with such slim margins, one miss can set him back quite a bit. Yet, even if he doesn't end up with the single season record, we should all keep in mind that the record was set on 126 free throw attempts, and Jok already has already taken almost 40 more on the season.
As for the rest of the seniors, Dale Jones got an honorary start against Penn State and promptly scored Iowa's first points of the game and his first of the season.
He only played four minutes the entire game, but he at least made them count with the offensive rebound and the made three.
As for the underclassmen, Nicholas Baer was again Iowa's best player in this game. His 20 points scored set a new career-high, surpassing the 19 he scored last season against Tennessee Tech. In addition to the points, he also came down with 10 rebounds (four offensive) en route to the second double-double of his career, and his first in Big Ten play.
Moreover, Baer was so good because on top of all the little stuff he always does like rebound and take the ball from the other team, he also continued to torch the net from deep.
Baer gives Iowa its biggest lead. Both of these teams should be good next year, though someone needs to be Batman for Iowa. Cook? pic.twitter.com/1f0YwtK2ZU— Big Ten Geek (@bigtengeek) March 5, 2017
He was 4-4 from outside on the day, making him now 13-19 (68.4%) during Iowa's four-game winning streak, and putting him at 23-67 (43.3%) in Big Ten play. When Baer is knocking down his threes, in addition to all the other stuff he does, there is no question he is Iowa's best player. It's no coincidence that Peter Jok called him "the heart of this team."
"Baer is the heart of this team." Peter Jok on Nicholas Baer.— Pat Harty (@PatHarty) March 5, 2017
After Jok and Baer, Iowa had three other players reach double-digit points. Unsurprisingly, it was the trio of true freshmen: Cordell Pemsl, Jordan Bohannon, and Tyler Cook.
Pemsl had 14 points on 6-9 shooting from the field and 2-2 shooting from the line. He combined with Nicholas Baer to score 34 of Iowa's 42 bench points on Sunday afternoon. Not only did he do his usual work in the paint, but he did an outstanding job of running the court and finishing at the rim.
This team is so good at passing, theyre going to be fun to watch over the next 3 years. pic.twitter.com/ZddinLSIRE— Big Ten Geek (@bigtengeek) March 5, 2017
He also finished with six rebounds (four offensive), one assist, one block, and one steal.
Bohannon was also very good for the first three-fourths of the game. Three of his five turnovers came in the final ten minutes of the game, although he exited for the day at the 5:00 mark. Before Iowa entered its cooling off portion of the game, Bohannon's line stood at 11 points, five assists, and two turnovers. Not only did he knock down two more threes (he's shooting 39% on the season and 40% in Big Ten play), but he was a big part of Iowa's transition game in this one, handing out assists like you saw above to guys like Pemsl. Those final three turnovers in garbage time aside, it was another very good game from Iowa's young point guard.
Lastly, Tyler Cook earned not only his second career double-double, but his second in three games. He gave Iowa 11 points on 5-8 shooting down low, and made his only free throw attempt of the game. Perhaps most importantly, he registered another block -- his fourth over his last four games, and his fifth in his last six games. Additionally, his 10 rebounds (two offensive) against Penn State marks three games in a row in which he's grabbed at least eight boards.
Cook has always been a scorer this season, but over these last three games it's been great to see him block some shots and secure rebounds on a more regular basis. He's still got some work to do on defending ball screens and what not, but he's young and that will come with experience. However, adding blocks and rebounds to his repertoire will only make him that much better as an overall player.
As for his dunks, he threw down two against Penn State. One came on an offensive rebound, the other was the result of playing the pick-and-roll game with Peter Jok.
|Tyler Cook Dunk-o-meter||Games||dunks||Dunks Per Game||made field goals||dunk rate||projected season total|
|Tyler Cook||24||42||1.8||109||38.5%||46 (26 Games)|
|Sophomore Year Aaron White||24||40||1.7||99||40.4%||56 (38 Games)|
For comparison, sophomore Aaron White went dunkless for the second-straight time in game 24 of the 2013 season. That means Cook passed him in total number of dunks through 24 games, but White still has the higher rate of dunks per made field goal. Also, you'll notice that since Iowa seems pretty likely to make at least the NIT now, I added an extra postseason game to Cook's total beyond one game in the Big Ten Tournament.
Overall, this was a great offensive showing for the Hawkeyes, and it fell just short of their best offensive performance in Big Ten play this year, which came a few games ago at Maryland. If this game had been just 30 minutes long, it would have smashed that record. But it still goes to show that Iowa is playing some of their best offensive basketball recently. So long as the threes keep falling and they continue to hit the offensive glass hard, they can compete with anybody in the Big Ten Tournament.
That being said, the defense is still a liability. It's been better as of late, but it's still wildly inconsistent. They still struggle to contain attacking point guards, which was evidenced by Ahmad Wagner guarding Tony Carr for a couple of man-to-man defensive possessions in this one before Iowa went to zone for the final 27 minutes of play. Not only that, but they are still giving up quite a few open looks from three-point range every game. Fortunately, Penn State didn't have enough shooters to take advantage of that weakness on Sunday. And while Iowa can certainly beat Indiana -- considering the Hoosiers have plenty of issues of their own -- a particularly hot shooting night from downtown by Tom Crean's squad could spell an early exit from the conference tournament.
Defense aside, the Hawks are certainly still one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten right now. Let's hope they can carry some of that momentum over into the Big Ten Tournament. Iowa hasn't fared too well in the conference tournament under McCaffery, but this is a completely new team, and hopefully they can turn those struggles around.