How can Hawkeyes snap four-game losing streak? It starts with stopping turnovers

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The Iowa men’s basketball team is getting a reputation for being loose with the ball.

Iowa State coach Steve Prohm seized on that as something to exploit Thursday, and the Cyclones turned the game around by turning the Hawkeyes over. Iowa State won 84-78 at Hilton Coliseum. One-third of those points came off of 18 Iowa miscues.

Iowa point guard Jordan Bohannon got loose for this shot against Iowa State on Thursday. But he also committed four of his team's 18 turnovers. The Hawkeyes are looking to halt their turnover issues and try to snap a four-game losing streak when they host Southern at 4 p.m. Sunday.

It was the third consecutive game in which the Hawkeyes had 18 turnovers, and opponents have made them pay to the tune of 72 points.

“That’s why we lost,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said after the Cyclones handed his team a fourth consecutive setback

“We just turned the ball over too much, it’s as simple as that,” Hawkeye forward Tyler Cook echoed.

Iowa (4-6, 0-2 Big Ten Conference) gets a chance to work through its ball-handling problems at 4 p.m. Sunday, when Southern visits Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The game will be televised on BTN.

Hawkeye point guard Jordan Bohannon, with 12 turnovers in the past three games, thinks the mistakes are a product of bad decisions in dribble penetration.

“Just going when you want to go and going when you’re not supposed to,” Bohannon said. “I think that’s what we need to start learning. Because gaps aren’t as open as they should be. There’s gaps that should be open that we should be driving on and we just need to find the happy medium of when we should go.”

Iowa showed in the first half Thursday how effective it can be when taking care of the basketball. Unveiling a three-guard starting lineup for the first time — with Brady Ellingson and Isaiah Moss joining Bohannon — the Hawkeyes led 41-36 after committing only six turnovers.

“Any time you have three guards out there, it spaces the floor and we were able to get open shots,” said Bohannon, who had 11 of his 19 points in the first half.

The turnovers mounted in the second half. Twelve of them became 19 Cyclone points.

Carelessness with the basketball puts pressure on Iowa’s defense, which has not excelled in transition. Opponents are averaging 1.3 points per Hawkeye turnover in the past three games.

“You’ve got to come down, move the ball, get a shot and then get your defense back,” McCaffery said.

“We were dribbling more than once and dribbling into packs of people where there’s no room.”

Iowa forward Nicholas Baer knows the Hawkeyes are going to see overly aggressive defenses until they prove they can handle the ball better.

“Some of it’s a little bit of lack of focus. Obviously, we want to try to get the ball to our scorers,” Baer said. “But people are pressuring us and we’ve got to be strong with the ball and just make good decisions.”

McCaffery is confident his team will get the message.

“We made some poor reads and the only thing you can do is watch it (on film),” he said. “We’ve got smart kids. They’re good kids. They’ll get it figured out. They’ll get better.”

Southern should provide the perfect opportunity for Iowa to show improvement. The Jaguars are 0-6 on the road and are playing at Central Florida on Saturday before flying to Iowa City. They are forcing only 12 turnovers per game.

No break for Pemsl

Iowa sophomore forward Cordell Pemsl suffered a deep laceration in his right shin, but no broken bone, late in Thursday's game. He is considered questionable for Sunday's game. Pemsl is averaging 5.8 points and 5.7 rebounds.