Week in Review: Indiana and Minnesota
An important week for the Iowa Hawkeyes saw Iowa going 1-1 in two tough road environments. Iowa continues to find itself near the top of the Big Ten standings with the Ohio State Buckeyes coming to town.
The Week in Review
February 13, 2020, 7:00 P.M. CT
Hawkeyes 77 Indiana 89
Final Betting Line: Indiana -2.0
The Positives: The Hawks continued to fight during a game that they had no business being within shouting distance of the Hoosiers. With Cordell Pemsl suspended and CJ Fredrick twisting his ankle, Iowa could have folded it up and been rolled by 40. Instead, a team consisting of just 6 recruited scholarship players, Riley Till, and Austin Ash continued to scratch and claw, threatening to make the game interesting late.
The Negatives: A team that was already shorthanded came out of Indiana even more banged up and looked tired against the Hoosiers. The injury of CJ Fredrick, although it does not appear to be season ending, is impactful for a team that was already suffering from substantial attrition.
The fatigue from the injury issues Iowa has sustained showed itself early and often, as the Hawkeyes allowed Indiana to shoot a scorching hot 52.4% from the 3-point line and gave up 32 free throw attempts.
The Takeaway: As this game came to an end, it felt similar to the night Iowa got trounced by Purdue. This game by itself isn't indicative of any major concerns, but if Iowa couldn't rebound against Minnesota, it felt like this game and the Fredrick injury could have been the straw that broke the camel's back.
The lasting concern that does come from this game is that this team's defense is starting to look more and more like Iowa teams of the past, struggling immensely to stop opposing outside shooters. In general, this team's defense is much improved over previous years and can get a stop when they really need one, but there are some holes in the defense that have consistently shown up throughout the year. At this point the perimeter defense isn't a fatal flaw, but its something to keep in mind down the stretch.
February 16, 2020, 12:00 P.M. CT
Hawkeyes 58 Minnesota 55
Final Betting Line: Minnesota -4.5
The Positives: The Hawks fought. Through foul trouble. Through attrition. They fought through a hostile road crowd. And they found a way to win.
Iowa would have had a lot of trouble in the past winning a game like this. The game was ugly, physical, and a constant struggle with the best Hawkeye on the floor saddled with foul trouble throughout the game. That hasn't been how Fran McCaffery coached teams have won games at Iowa, but they found a way on Sunday.
Iowa got contributions from everyone, led by Luka Garza's 21 points and 8 rebounds in just 28 minutes of play. As important as Garza's production, Iowa got huge contributions from Bakari Evelyn, Cordell Pemsl, and Ryan Kriener. All three were thrust into more prevalent roles with Garza saddled with foul trouble, CJ Fredrick out with injury, and Joe Wieskamp held largely in check by the Golden Gophers. They performed valiantly, combining for 23 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists.
The Negatives: There weren't many negatives that came out of this hard fought Black and Gold victory.
Iowa wasted a 10-2 run to being the game and trailed for most of the game.
Joe Wieskamp wasn't ever able to get going.
Neither of those things are overly concerning, and tainting a hard fought victory like this with negativity doesn't feel right.
The Takeaway: This team is tough and it continues to prove that fact night in and night out. This team has no business being 18-8 and tied for 3rd in the Big Ten Standings with all the injuries they have sustained this year, but they have found a way to do it anyway. Sunday was just a small sample of why this team is where they are. It wasn't pretty but the Luka Garza led Iowa Hawkeyes found a way to win the game anyway.
From The Corner of Kinnick's Player(s) of the Week: Luka Garza - 34 minutes per game, 31 points per game, 8 rebounds per game, 2.5 blocks per game
Honorable Mention: Ryan Kriener - 26 minutes per game, 8 points per game, 5 rebounds per game, 2.5 blocks per game
A Look Ahead
After a long, tough stretch of Big Ten play, Iowa will get a much needed reprieve with just one game in a 9 day stretch as they play host to Ohio State Thursday night. The Buckeyes enter ranked 25th in the AP poll off a 16 point victory over the Purdue Boilermakers on Saturday.
Ohio State comes to Iowa City down a key contributor in the form of former Bettendorf star D.J. Carton, but have been playing their best basketball lately. Ohio State has emerged as one of the better defenses in the Big Ten, allowing just 66.9 points per conference game. On offense, the Buckeyes look to work inside out, with the Wesson brothers (Kaleb and Andre) and Kyle Young leading the way inside. Ohio State shoots nearly 40% from the 3-point line, so Iowa's defense will need to be sharp in their rotations to keep the Buckeyes in check.
As far as Iowa is concerned, the health of CJ Fredrick could play a key role in determining the way Iowa is able to attack this Buckeye defense. In his media availability Wednesday, Fran McCaffery noted that Fredrick has been walking and running on his injured ankle, but would be a game time decision based on his ability to make cuts on offense and defense.
Regardless of Fredrick's status, Iowa needs to get Luka Garza and Ryan Kriener involved early. In games Ohio State games that I've watched this season, the Buckeye offense becomes stagnant without Kaleb Wesson. If Garza, Kriener, and Cordell Pemsl can put continuous pressure on Wesson and saddled him with early foul trouble, Iowa should be in really good shape to emerge victorious. If they can't, this game will be a dogfight to the end.
Without CJ Fredrick, Ohio State will keep the game close, but Iowa should still emerge with a 4 or 5 point victory on their home floor. If Fredrick is healthy, Joe Wieskamp should have a bounce back game with Ohio State's perimeter defensive attention split and Iowa wins by an 8-10 point margin.
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Current Big Ten Standings (Following Games on February 18)
1. Maryland - 22-4 (12-3) (--)
2. Penn State - 20-6 (10-5) (--)
3. Iowa - 18-8 (9-6) (+1)
4. Michigan State - 17-9 (9-6) (-1)
5. Rutgers - 18-8 (9-6) (+1)
6. Illinois - 17-9 (9-6) (-1)
7. Wisconsin 16-10 (9-6) (--)
8. Ohio State - 17-8 (7-7) (+2)
9. Michigan - 16-9 (7-7) (+2)
10. Purdue - 14-13 (7-9) (-2)
11. Indiana - 16-9 (6-8) (+1)
12. Minnesota - 12-12 (6-8) (-3)
13. Nebraska - 7-18 (2-12) (--)
14. Northwestern - 6-19 (1-14) (--)