Franalysis: Awful Second Half Dooms Hawkeyes in Blacksburg

By Matthew Lundeen on November 29, 2017 at 2:15 pm
Iowa's offense went MIA in the second half last night, and it cost them dearly.
© Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
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Iowa's offense went MIA in the second half last night, and it cost them dearly.

points

Four Factors in Review

  Iowa 1st Half VT 1st Half Iowa 2nd Half VT 2nd Half Iowa Game VT Game
Points Per Possession 1.13 1.13 0.45 1.09 0.77 1.11
Possession 34 38 71

In case you are wondering, Iowa's 0.45 points per possession (PPP) in the second half was even lower than the meager 0.48 they scored in the first half of the Louisiana-Lafayette game. I don't really have an easy way of knowing, but at the time, I figured that 0.48 against Lafayette could have been the lowest output in a non-overtime half by an Iowa team under McCaffery. And, well, now there's this

I don't know about you, but I, for one, feel lucky we got to witness possible history twice in the span of a week.

Shooting

shots

(Shot chart courtesy of ESPN. Makes are filled in.)

Iowa 2PT Near Rim 2PT Jumper 3PT FG FT
Attempts 47.0% 22.7% 30.3% N/A
FG% 48.4% 13.3% 25.0% 60.0%
Virginia Tech 2PT Near Rim 2PT Jumper 3PT FG FT
Attempts 50.0% 10.3% 39.7% N/A
FG% 62.1% 0.0% 30.4% 78.6%

Obviously, this is where Iowa lost the game. After posting a 58.6% eFG% in the first half, Iowa came out of halftime and made just one of their first 17 field goal attempts, en route to a miserable second half 20.3% eFG%. And it was during that nine minute stretch where the Hokies built a commanding 19-point lead, outscoring the Hawkeyes 22-3.

The funny thing about it all is that Virginia Tech's vaunted three-point attack didn't play a huge role in blowing this game open. Their five first half threes helped keep them in the game when Iowa outplayed them early, but the home team shot just 2-11 from deep in the final 20 minutes, and made one three-pointer during the first part of the second half. Instead, it was the Hokies pushing the tempo, getting in the paint, and getting to the free throw line that did all the damage. 

The Hawkeye defense wasn't stellar in the second half, but the offensive tailspin completely derailed this game for Iowa.

Advantage: Virginia Tech

Turnovers

Team Turnovers Turnover% Steals % of Turnovers Forced by Steals Points Off Turnovers Pts Off Turnovers Per Turnover Forced
Iowa 14 19.7% 5 50.0% 3 0.30
Virginia Tech 10 14.1% 6 42.9% 12 0.86

Iowa averaged a turnover on almost a quarter of their first half possessions -- five of which came in the final five minutes of the half -- which was probably why the Hawkeyes didn't take a lead into the half. Additionally, the Hokies outscored them 8-0 on points off turnovers in the first half. 

That said, turnovers didn't play a huge role outside of the first half. The Hawkeyes cut down their giveaways in the second half, and instead their arctic shooting ultimately did them in. 

Advantage: Virginia Tech

Offensive Rebounding

Team Off. Rebounds Available Off. Rebounds Off. Rebound% 2nd Chance Points 2nd Chance Pts/Off. Rebound
Iowa 15 46 32.6% 13 0.87
Virginia Tech 9 38 23.7% 13 1.44

Along with shooting, offensive rebounding is another thing that was a huge advantage in the first half for Iowa. It also ended up abandoning them in the second. 

Iowa Off. Rebounds Off. Rebound% 2nd Chance Points 2nd Chance Pts/Off. Rebound
First Half 6 46.2% 11 1.83
Second Half 9 27.3% 2 0.22

Iowa missed a ton of shots after the break, which is why they have more offensive rebounds, but a lower offensive rebounding percentage in the second half. However, they still had nine opportunities to turn misses into second chance points, but they managed to do that all of once in the final 20 minutes. 

On the plus side, the Hawkeyes did a much better job on the defensive glass than they have in a while. Unfortunately, Tech was efficient with the misses they did rebound. 

Advantage: Iowa

Free Throws

Team FT Made FT Attempted FT% FT Rate (FTA/FGA)
Iowa 6 10 60.0% 15.2%
Virginia Tech 22 28 78.6% 48.3%

It's not often you see a team win the free throw battle by such a large margin against Iowa, but Virginia Tech did just that. The Hokies drew fouls early and often (Luka Garza picked up two fouls four minutes into the game) and they made their shots when they got there.

Outside of Tyler Cook's six attempts from the line, nobody on Iowa was able to draw whistles like we are used to seeing. And when shots aren't falling and you aren't cleaning up your misses, free throws become important. And, well, Iowa just couldn't find their way to the line. 

Advantage: Virginia Tech

Overall: Iowa Won 1 of 4 Factors

Players

From an adjusted game score point of view, Cordell Pemsl was Iowa's best player, scoring six points, hauling in 14 rebounds (seven offensive), and handing out six assists with no turnovers. And while we should definitely appreciate that type of output, I would remiss if I didn't point out that Pemsl's game would have been even more effective had he not shot just 2-8 inside the painted area. He only attempted one field goal in the second half, but out of those five first half misses, only one was put back in the basket for second chance points. 

Struggles at the basket are just part of a recent trend for Pemsl, who was shooting 52% from two-point range coming into this game, and is now down to 44% on the year. He was a 62% shooter from there last year, and the struggles to finish at the rim really sap him of his offensive value. The turnovers have really come down over the last couple games, so hopefully this shooting trend will correct itself soon, too.

Tyler Cook was probably the one Iowa player who looked like he had a pulse for the entire game. He scored 16 points on 6-10 shooting (4-6 from the line), pulled down nine rebounds (one offensive), and blocked two shots. Eight of Cook's 16 points came in the second half, and those eight points were the only points Iowa managed to muster for the first 15 minutes of the half. That's right, Iowa scored just eight points from when they stepped on the court after the intermission until there was only 4:54 left in the game. And, again, all eight of those points were scored by Cook. 

Iowa's dunk machine also had three more slams last night, including this beauty:

Here is the updated tracker:

Tyler Cook Dunk-o-meter Games Dunks Dunks Per Game Made field goals Dunk Rate Estimated Season Total
Sophomore Year Tyler Cook 7 16 2.3 32 50.0% 71 (31 Games)
Sophomore Year Aaron White 38 56 1.5 140 40.0% 56
Tyler Cook Career 34 64 1.9 160 40.0% N/A
Aaron White Career 140 201 1.4 590 34.1% N/A

Jordan Bohannon looked outstanding to start the game. He gave Iowa 12 first half points on 4-4 shooting from outside the arc. Then the second half happened, and he went 0-4 from long range and scored zero points. He also continued to struggle from inside the arc. He is now 6-21 on two-point field goals this season, and is 35-111 in his career. Yuck.

Outside of those guys, Jack Nunge is probably the only other guy who had a solid game. There were times in the first half where I got him confused with Nicholas Baer because he was doing Baer-like things out there. Unfortunately, he also largely disappeared in the second half. 

Speaking of Baer, he wasn't spectacular in his first game back from injury. His shooting was off (which is probably to be expected since he had a broken finger) and he didn't stuff the stat sheet the way he normally does. It's hard to get too worked up, however, since it was his first game back from injury.

Isaiah Moss had the worst game, as his stat line of two points on 1-6 shooting and four turnovers was enough to easily make him the worst player on the court last night, according to adjusted game score. On top of that, he played 22 minutes. It's just one game, of course, so it's not like this spells doom or anything. Still, this is the type of competition that we need to see Moss step up against.

Finally, Luka Garza was pretty ineffective last night. After early foul trouble, Garza played just 14 minutes and struggled to convert in the paint and at the free throw line. He did have four rebounds and one block in 10 minutes of play in the second half, which was good. Yet, that was still offset by shooting 1-5 from the floor and 0-2 from the line. 

Overall, this was one good half of basketball that was completely trounced by an abysmal second half of basketball. I would like to say that it was bad luck, but Iowa's offensive performance in recent games has been concerning at times. There is plenty of offensive firepower on the roster, but there have been too many cold streaks on offense over the last few games for me not to worry. 0.48 PPP in the first half against Louisiana-Lafayette; 0.88 PPP in the first half against South Dakota State; and now 0.45 PPP in the second half against Virginia Tech. None of those teams are particularly known for their defense, mind you.

Maybe this is just an inexperience thing. Iowa is relying on heavy minutes from two true freshmen and a host of sophomores. Nicholas Baer has only been on the court for one game. It's not surprising that there are growing pains, but it is surprising that there are this many growing pains. I certainly expect this team to improve as the season goes on, but they have already played themselves out of an NCAA berth, barring a miracle.

In order to salvage the rest of this season, the offense needs to get better. The defense has not been spectacular, but this team can't expect to win many games when they completely tank on offense for an entire half. And, right now, that's happening way too often to be successful. 

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