Leistikow's First Word: Hawkeyes show in Drake rout they can be good
Saturday brought the type of game and result that the Iowa basketball team desperately needed.
The Hawkeyes had a fun afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena, toying with in-state opponent Drake while shooting 55 percent in a 90-64 laugher.
The Hawkeyes entered this Hy-Vee Classic matchup with an RPI of 237.
That figure was 64 spots worse than that of any other Big Ten Conference team, with Indiana — which already had beaten Iowa — at 173.
This Hawkeyes team is way too talented to have an RPI of 237. It won't be near that bad any longer. And it might improve rapidly if Iowa can produce more performances like Saturday's.
Iowa (now 6-6) applied impressive defensive pressure that was missing. Isaiah Moss effectively led the charge in neutralizing 21-point Drake scorer Reed Timmer (13 points on 5-of-14 shooting).
Nicholas Baer (11 points, a career-high 14 rebounds, five assists, five steals) seems to be rounding into his spark-plug form after missing the first six games with a broken finger.
A lethargic start to the afternoon didn't keep Tyler Cook from slamming home 23 points in spite of six turnovers.
And even Cordell Pemsl — who nine days ago had a chunk taken out of his right leg in a gruesome collision at Hilton Coliseum — had six points, including a dunk.
Drake was no slouch. It had already beaten the ACC's Wake Forest and took one of the Big Ten's top teams, Minnesota, to the wire on the road.
Iowa looked good. I think it can be good. Maybe this was the performance it needed.
The Hawkeyes were definitely having some fun, as former teammate Peter Jok suggested this week they should have, and it showed.
Hawkeyes columnist Chad Leistikow has covered sports for 23 years with The Des Moines Register, USA TODAY and Iowa City Press-Citizen. Follow @ChadLeistikow on Twitter.