Iowa center Luka Garza discusses playing at Penn State with an ailing point guard. Bohannon scored 3 points in 24 minutes. Chad Leistikow/Hawk Central
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Leaky defense has been a prominent, recurring storyline for the 2017-18 Iowa basketball team. And it was again Saturday night in an 82-58 loss at Penn State.
But for the first time in a while, a lackluster offense was the bigger culprit.
Four days after scoring 57 points in the second 20 minutes against Minnesota, the Hawkeyes scored just 58 in 40.
They made just one 3-pointer, a season low, in 10 attempts.
They had seven assists, another season low, vs. 13 turnovers.
The Big Ten’s No. 3 scoring offense had its lowest point total in its last 25 conference games, dating to an 89-54 loss at Northwestern 13 months ago.
The lesson learned?
“Hero ball” doesn’t work for Fran McCaffery’s fast-paced teams. When scoring lulls hit, the worst thing a player can do is try to do too much by himself.
“Sometimes we have a tendency to go more one-on-one in those situations, which doesn’t work for us,” McCaffery said. “We’ve got to move it."
Jordan Bohannon’s poor health was a factor. The sophomore point guard was sick Saturday and didn’t score after the game’s first 37 seconds. He finished with three points, three assists and three turnovers.
He had been averaging 19.0 points and 9.3 assists in his previous three games, in which the Hawkeyes (12-13 overall, 3-9 Big Ten) racked up 85, 84 and 94 points.
The opponent's takeaway: Slow Bohannon, slow the Hawkeyes.
“We just wanted to wear (Bohannon) down,” Penn State’s Tony Carr said. “He is a great player and a great shooter, so we wanted to close out with high hands and stop him from shooting threes.”
Look for Tom Izzo to take note. His fourth-ranked Michigan State team comes to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday.
The Hawkeyes fell behind by 19 at halftime and lost 82-58. Chad Leistikow/Hawk Central
A big problem for this Iowa team since Christian Williams’ abrupt transfer just before the start of the season has been the lack of a backup to Bohannon at point guard.
Brady Ellingson, a shooting guard, began the season trying to fill that void. But with Ellingson out again Saturday (he and Ryan Kriener are recovering from concussions), McCaffery gave 6-foot-6 sophomore Maishe Dailey an extended chance to get more comfortable at the point.
A left-handed swingman, Dailey got 26 minutes Saturday, the most he’s had in any Big Ten game.
He was OK. He probably needs to get more aggressive, offensively, but that should come with time. His line: 2-for-4 shooting, four points, no assists and three turnovers.
Stats aside, McCaffery liked what he saw.
“He’s battling,” the coach said. “I thought the first half, he gave us a big boost. I thought, defensively, he gave us a boost, because they’ve got some big perimeter guys.”
The Iowa forward speaks after scoring 19 points in an 82-58 loss at Penn State. Chad Leistikow / The Register
TC, and not much else
Take away Tyler Cook, and Iowa’s offense really struggled.
Cook was one of the few bright spots for the Hawkeyes. He scored 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting despite early foul trouble.
He's scored 382 points this season and is averaging 15.3 a game. With at least seven games left, Cook has a shot to become just the sixth sophomore in school history to score 500 points in a season. Chris Kingsbury was the last to do it, 22 years ago.
“I got into a better groove as the game went on,” Cook said. “I wish I would’ve started better.”
The rest of the Hawkeyes shot a collective 13-for-43 Saturday — 30 percent.
Freshmen big men Luka Garza and Jack Nunge combined to go 5-for-20. Even layups were challenges on this night.
To Garza’s credit, he kept battling. Despite making just 1 of his first 10 shot attempts, he wound up attempting a game-high nine free throws (and made seven) to score 13 points.
“It’s frustrating. But I’m not going to let it get to my confidence,” Garza said. “Just one of those nights where there was kind of a cap on the rim. I’ve just got to keep being aggressive, and hope it doesn’t happen again.”
Cordell Pemsl on Iowa’s 82-58 loss to Penn State. Chad Leistikow/Hawk Central
The Joe show
While the rest of his Hawkeye players and coaching staff headed to Western Pennsylvania on Friday, McCaffery stayed back in Eastern Iowa. He and son Patrick, a Class of 2019 Iowa commit, spent the evening watching one Hawkeye signee (Muscatine’s Joe Wieskamp) go against a Hawkeye recruiting target (Bettendorf’s D.J. Carton).
Safe to say, McCaffery liked what he saw.
Wieskamp put on a show. He scored all 31 of his team’s first-half points. For the game, he scored 54 in Muscatine’s 64-50 win.
“I’ve never recruited a guy that scored more points than the other team,” McCaffery said after Saturday’s game. “So that was pretty impressive.
“I’ve been watching him since he was in fifth grade. I’m not surprised. Excited that he’s coming to play for us.”
The only thing McCaffery missed before re-joining the Hawkeyes was a Friday-night film session, which his staff handled.
He saw Wieskamp can 16 of 23 shot attempts, including eight 3-point goals. The 6-foot-6 guard is the highest-rated signee in the McCaffery era, at No. 42 in the Rivals 150.
It was important for McCaffery to be there. Carton, a Class of 2019 point guard who is a high priority for this staff, scored 24 points.
The stop served as a reminder that, even on a crummy night in Happy Valley, promising help is on the way.