Fran McCaffery’s Iowa Hawkeyes are a team many believe to be capable of at the very least reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006, with guard Devyn Marble and forward Aaron White among the returnees from last season’s 25-win squad. But after blowing out UNC-Wilmington on Friday night the Hawkeyes had their hands full with Omaha, trailing by seven at the half before coming back to win 83-75.
Aaron White was excellent, tallying 20 points and 15 rebounds, and four players reached double figures for the Hawkeyes. But if they’re to make good on the preseason expectations Iowa will have to be more consistent, especially when it comes to taking care of the basketball. Iowa finished the game with 18 turnovers, with 12 of the miscues coming in the first half. The combination of turnovers and 35% shooting in the first half certainly factored into Omaha’s 43-36 lead at the half, and against the stronger opponents they’ll see in the Big Ten Iowa can ill-afford such starts.
The good news for Iowa is that they were able to turn things around in the second half, taking better care of the basketball and improving their shooting by nearly six percentage points. Iowa can also cite its rebounding effort as they move forward. The Hawkeyes managed to grab 20 offensive rebounds, finishing with an offensive rebounding percentage of 50%.
No team is a finished product in early November and that’s certainly a true statement for Iowa, with early games providing the looks needed in order to get better as conference play approaches. The Hawkeyes didn’t look as good as they did on Friday night and Omaha certainly deserves some credit for that. But in the end Iowa avoided a defeat that can weigh a team down should the land on the bubble come March.