Franalysis: Another Second Half Goes Poorly in Hilton

By Matthew Lundeen on December 8, 2017 at 11:52 am
Just stop all this nonsense!
© Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
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Turnovers and poor free throw shooting caused Iowa to let yet another second half lead slip away in Ames.

Four Factors in Review

  Iowa 1st Half ISU 1st Half Iowa 2nd Half ISU 2nd Half Iowa Game ISU Game
Points Per Possession 1.11 0.98 0.94 1.22 1.02 1.10
Possession 37 39 76

Shooting

shots

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

Iowa 2PT Near Rim 2PT Jumper 3PT FG FT
Attempts 33.8% 17.6% 48.6% N/A
FG% 76.0% 23.1% 30.6% 12.5%
Iowa State 2PT Near Rim 2PT Jumper 3PT FG FT
Attempts 36.9% 21.5% 41.5% N/A
FG% 58.3% 50.0% 33.3% 75.0%

Iowa took a very perimeter-heavy approach in this one, which is interesting since size was on their side. (I mean, look at the rebounding disparity.) In the first half, that strategy was just fine, as Iowa made seven of their 18 tries from downtown. In the second half, though, that outside prowess abandoned them to the tune of 4-18. And it's not like Iowa State's defense was all that great at keeping the Hawkeyes from getting good looks. Brady Ellingson (0-3 in the second half), Jack Nunge (1-4), Nicholas Baer (1-3, including a wide open air ball), and Jordan Bohannon (2-6) had plentiful open threes, and just not enough of them fell.

Iowa was able to stay in the game, thanks to offensive rebounding and an ability to finish in the paint. But it just wasn't enough.

The Cyclones, meanwhile, were able to pull away with some timely shooting. (They also benefited by getting in the bonus early, which eventually led to the double bonus shortly after.) After making just three of their 13 three-point attempts in the first 20 minutes of the game, they made six of 14 in the final 20. The two biggest were corner threes by Donovan Jackson and Lindell Wiggington after back-to-back Iowa turnovers, which turned a three-point Iowa deficit into a nine-point one.

Advantage: Iowa State

Turnovers

Team Turnovers Turnover% Steals % of Turnovers Forced by Steals Points Off Turnovers Pts Off Turnovers Per Turnover Forced
Iowa 18 23.6% 2 25.0% 9 1.13
ISU 8 10.5% 9 50.0% 28 1.56

Yet again, ball control was the biggest issue for the Hawkeyes, and it cost them the game. Iowa State isn't a particularly outstanding defense -- they are above average, but far from great -- and they aren't really known for their ability to force turnovers. Of course, they also haven't played many turnover-heavy teams like Iowa this year. 

The Hawkeyes managed to keep the turnovers to a minimum in the first half, and that led to a five-point lead at the break. Then the second half started in Hilton (things never go well in the second half at Hilton), and Iowa went back to making stupid mistakes. Guys drove themselves into no man's land, guys set illegal screens, and Iowa continued to make entry passes into the post when the defense is fronting.

The forced entry pass by Dailey above, and the forced pass to the cutter by Cook below were two of the biggest turnovers of the game. 

To Iowa's credit, they didn't let Iowa State completely open the game up after this one. They were able to stay within striking distance, and even got within three with 28 seconds left. Unfortunately, a bunch of open shots from three-point range refused to fall, and Iowa was never able to tie the game up again.

Advantage: Iowa State

Offensive Rebounding

Team Off. Rebounds Available Off. Rebounds Off. Rebound% 2nd Chance Points 2nd Chance Pts/Off. Rebound
Iowa 20 45 44.4% 16 0.80
ISU 6 39 15.4% 6 1.00

With the huge disparity in turnovers, I know a lot of people (including myself) were wondering how Iowa kept this game from going off the rails. Well, look no further than offensive rebounding. Iowa damn near rebounded half of their misses in this one, and it helped offset those turnovers a bit.

Of course, they weren't exactly efficient with those offensive boards, as they only managed 16 second chance points on 20 offensive rebounds. That wasn't due to bad shooting up close, but instead it was due to a confluence of missed threes, missed free throws, and turnovers after the Hawkeyes reeled in those missed shots.

Iowa State, on the other hand, wasn't real interested in offensive rebounds, which is the norm for them. However, defensive rebounding had been a real strength for them this season, and it certainly was not in this one.

Advantage: Iowa

Free Throws

Team FT Made FT Attempted FT% FT Rate (FTA/FGA)
Iowa 1 8 12.5% 10.8%
ISU 15 20 75.0% 30.8%

Another issue for Iowa in this game was free throws. Not only did they not manage to get to the line very often, but they made just one out of their eight free throws. That's a small sample size fluke of one game, of course, but that still doesn't change the fact that Iowa isn't making the most of their usual free throw advantage this year.

free throws

Above, I have plotted each Division I team according to how often they get to the line (free throw rate), and how often they convert (free throw percentage). As you can see, Iowa (the highlighted circle) is one of the worst free throw shooting teams that happens to visit the line with quite  a bit of frequency. Turnovers have been the biggest issue this year, but an offense that prides itself on getting to the line is losing a lot of efficiency when they don't make their free throws.

As for the Cyclones, they drew 14 fouls in the second half, and quickly had Iowa in the bonus and double bonus for a good portion of the quarter. The Hawkeyes held them without a field goal for the final five minutes of the game (not including that Wiggington leak out layup near the buzzer), but during that time Iowa State went 8-10 from the charity stripe. 

Advantage: Iowa State

Overall: Iowa Won 1 of 4 Factors

Players

Cordell Pemsl and Jack Nunge were two of Iowa's best players in this one. Pemsl played a big part in keeping this game from slipping away from Iowa in the second half. He finished the game with 10 points on 5-6 shooting from the field, but eight of his points came in the second half. Pemsl also had eight rebounds (four offensive), five of which came in the second half (including all four offensive rebounds). Unfortunately, Iowa's spark off the bench was put out when he hurt his leg diving out of bounds for a loose ball. Pemsl has had leg injuries in the past, so let's hope this isn't anything too serious. This team has already had enough injuries within the first month of the season. It really doesn't need any more.

Nunge also stepped up in a big way in this one, scoring 16 points 7-14 shooting (1-5 from three), grabbing eight rebounds (four offensive), dishing out four assists, and blocking one shot. More importantly, Nunge's 27% of possessions used was a career high for him, signaling that he isn't just a guy who is content to stay back in the background on offense. Nunge has a unique skillset like Nicholas Baer, but is also four inches taller. If Iowa can get him to step into a larger role with similar consistency, that would be a welcome sight for a team that is struggling to find consistency from a number of other key guys.

Nunge also played a lot of power forward in this game, and I really thought that was a good look. It got him closer to the rim for defensive rebounds and helped protect the rim a bit more than when he's out on the perimeter. I'll be curious to see how much of that was dictated by the three guard lineup that Iowa State uses or if Fran is planning on shortening his rotation and giving Nunge increased playing time at the four. If Pemsl is out for a few games, I could certainly see the latter. 

Jordan Bohannon was back to looking almost like normal last night. He knocked down 5-10 three-point attempts en route to a 19-point performance. Hell, he even made two of his three two-point attempts. Still, his two assists to four turnovers left something to be desired, and he still doesn't look quite like the gun-slinging assist machine that he did last year. In four games against what Kenpom classifies as Tier A and B teams, Bohannon has an assist rate of just 18% and a turnover rate just a hair shy of 40%. Last season, those numbers were 34% and 18%. Hopefully that corrects itself.

Off the ball, Bohannon looked pretty good last night. He ran through screens (exhausting his defenders and himself) and was opportunistic with his shooting. If I'm Fran, I tell Bohannon I want a bare minimum of 10 three-point attempts from him per game. He may be struggling in other areas, but he's still making 48% of his threes this year. Games like Penn State (four three-point attempts) and Indiana (six three-point attempts) should not happen with a guy who is Iowa's second go-to guy. 

As for Iowa's first go-to guy, Tyler Cook struggled to get anything going down low. He managed just five field goal attempts, and made just one of them. Not to mention, he only got to the line twice and missed both attempts. He was also held dunkless for the first time this season.

Tyler Cook Dunk-o-meter Games Dunks Dunks Per Game Made field goals Dunk Rate Estimated Season Total
Sophomore Year Tyler Cook 10 20 2.0 44 45.4% 62 (31 Games)
Sophomore Year Aaron White 38 56 1.5 140 40.0% 56
Tyler Cook Career 37 68 1.8 172 39.5% N/A
Aaron White Career 140 201 1.4 590 34.1% N/A

On the bright side, he had five assists and eight rebounds (four offensive). Unfortunately, he also had three turnovers and had some issues on defense (as did just about everyone in the second half). 

Brady Ellingson looked mostly good on offense, but his shot just wasn't falling. As odd as it is to type that sentence, Ellingson's bad luck in the shooting department doesn't completely overshadow the fact that he still looks like the guy who knows better than anyone what he's doing on offense. He handed out five assists on the night (just two turnovers) and also made several nice cuts and reads of the defense. He had plenty of good looks from downtown, but the 1-6 shooting performance was a real killer. And he certainly had his hands full guarding Lindell Wiggington when Iowa played man. 

Nicholas Baer had a mixed game. He had eight points and made a few threes, but he also looked like he wasn't quite 100% back to game speed mentally. He was one of the guys who dribbled into no man's land, got stuck, and turned the ball over. He had defensive lapses that we aren't accustomed to seeing. And he air-balled a wide open three from the corner. He did play a big role in Iowa's rebounding dominance, though, securing seven rebounds, five of which came on offense.

Last but not least, Isaiah Moss and Luka Garza continued to struggle, while Ahmad Wagner and Ryan Kriener still appear to be way down on the pecking order. Moss didn't turn the ball over much in this one, but his deep shot continued to abandon him. After going 0-4 from beyond the arc against Iowa State, Moss is now 1-10 in his last four games, and 6-24 since the Louisiana-Lafayette game. Garza, Kriener, and Wagner played just seven, six, and five minutes apiece. All four guys were useful when it came to rebounding in those short stints, but the rest of their games were inconsistent. 

Overall, "inconsistent" seems to be the key word that describes the Hawkeyes right now. This is a good team that just can't get out of their own way right now. Despite these turnover problems, the Penn State and Iowa State games were in their grasp. And if it hadn't been for the ridiculous amount of mistakes that this team seems to make every game, they were in the eventual blowout games against Virginia Tech and Indiana for half of the game. There are no moral victories any more for McCaffery and this young team, so almost doesn't count. They need to figure out something soon because after Southern they get a Drake team that has been pretty feisty against Colorado and Wyoming this season, and hung with a decent South Dakota squad for a half before the wheels came off. 

This team is obviously better than they have played so far, but that doesn't change the fact that they are 4-6 and have lost four games in a row. At some point, they are going to have to show it on the court. 

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