Iowa coach explains what his team did well to blowout Southern Utah. Mark Emmert / The Register
IOWA CITY, Ia. — The encore was just as impressive for the Iowa men's basketball team.
Fresh off a dismantling of Drake on Saturday, the Hawkeyes returned to Carver-Hawkeye Arena and throttled Southern Utah 92-64 on Tuesday.
Iowa owned the paint again. Its press was disruptive again. Tyler Cook and Luka Garza were too much to handle again.
It added up to the best back-to-back games of the season for Iowa, which gets another chance to notch a win against a major-conference team Friday when it faces Colorado in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The Iowa center says cleaning up mistakes has fueled a three-game win streak. Mark Emmert / The Register
The Hawkeyes will be bringing confidence into that contest after building an early lead and never letting the Thunderbirds threaten. It was the sixth game this season in which Iowa scored 90 points or more.
"I thought defensively right off the bat we were really good," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "I thought we guarded their ball-screen action really well. I thought we contested without fouling and then we ran."
Southern Utah, which had lost 88-63 at Michigan State on Dec. 9, led for only 15 seconds before Iowa blitzed to a double-digit advantage. Iowa's starters also began the second half with a 7-0 run to essentially put the game away. There was no letup when the reserves came in, either.
"I think we took another step forward today in terms of just taking care of business, paying attention to our scouting report and going out there and executing our game plan," Cook said.
"I think we came out aggressive. We got the ball moving. We were active defensively whether it was man or zone."
Garza led Iowa (7-6) with 17 points. Cook added 16 before spending much of the second half on the bench. Isaiah Moss chipped in another 16 points.
The Hawkeyes outscored Southern Utah 52-24 in the paint, finding plenty of holes in a soft Thunderbird zone.
Nicholas Baer had 10 rebounds as Iowa dominated the glass against the smaller Thunderbirds. Baer had a career-high 14 boards against Drake. The Hawkeyes outrebounded Southern Utah 48-29.
The Hawkeye forward says Luka Garza has been particularly impressive in that area. Mark Emmert / The Register
Jordan Bohannon scored only three points, but contributed seven assists.
It was a third consecutive win for Iowa, and as impressive of a performance as any of them.
The only damper on the evening was a pair of apparent ankle injuries in the first half. Forward Ahmad Wagner and guard Brady Ellingson both came up limping and didn't return to the game, although they were back on the bench for the second half.
"They both turned their ankles stepping on a guy's foot. They were identical," McCaffery said. "I'm not 100 percent sure, but I think Ahmad's might be a little bit worse. Hopefully they can both make a quick turnaround."
The Hawkeyes picked up where they left off from Saturday’s 90-64 victory over Drake — by punishing a smaller team inside. Iowa used two 11-0 spurts to build its largest halftime lead since the second game of the season at 51-31.
The Hawkeyes outscored Southern Utah (6-5) 24-12 in the paint in the opening half, led by Cook’s 10 points. The Thunderbirds also committed 14 fouls to Iowa’s four. The Hawkeyes took advantage by making 13-of-16 free throws.
"This is a team that fouls a lot. We knew that," McCaffery said. "They're aggressive. They have a lot of depth so they're not afraid to be physical. So we pushed it down. We threw it in. We have the size advantage."