By Pete Ruden
Iowa’s second win of the season was never in question as the Hawkeye men’s basketball team rolled past Alabama State, 92-58, in Carver-Hawkeye on Sunday.
Iowa’s offense was extremely balanced throughout the game, and it racked up 25 assists on 32 field goals.
Five players got into double figures, and everyone had an impact. All but one Hawkeye who took the floor put points on the board.
Cordell Pemsl led the team with 15 points, and Isaiah Moss and Maishe Dailey followed with 12 and 11.
Dailey’s 11 points set a new career-high for his second-consecutive game. His previous career-high was 10, which he set against Chicago State on Nov. 10.
With the amount of ball movement and players scoring, it was clear that Iowa had confidence in its depth and ability to rack up points.
“I think as a team, we stretch the floor, and so that leaves a lot of gaps for us,” freshman Jack Nunge said. “We have a lot of shooters on this team, and we also have a lot of bigs. Everybody’s pretty good at finishing, so I think whenever we get the opportunities and get the open shots, we just know we’re going to knock them down.”
The player who stood out the most, though, was freshman Luka Garza.
In just the second game of his college career, the 6-11 center posted 11 points to go along with 13 rebounds for his first career double-double.
Five of the rebounds were on the offensive end, helping Iowa score 27 second-chance points.
Garza’s ability to find the ball helped the Hawkeyes out-rebound the Hornets, 53-38, which was reflected in the final score.
He’s still young and getting accustomed to the game at this level, but he has shown glimpses of what he will provide for the Hawkeyes.
“He’s got that uncanny ability to know exactly where the ball’s coming off; he’s always where the ball is,” head coach Fran McCaffery said. “The ball seems to find him. He’s always where the ball is. Great instincts, long arms, physical, tough, relentless — all the qualities you want in an offensive rebounder.”
The defense the Hawkeyes displayed was also outstanding for the most part.
McCaffery’s full-court press forced numerous turnovers, and the players were stifling on that end of the floor. Alabama State shot a rough 38 percent from the field, 29 percent from deep.
Iowa also did a good job of turning its defense into offense, scoring 33 points on the 17 Hornet turnovers.
The physical defense helped the team record 6 blocks and held six Hornets scoreless.
Even though the defense was a big part of their success through most of the game, the Hawkeyes still see points where it can be better.
“You can always get better defensively,” junior forward Ahmad Wagner said. “We’ve been playing good, getting consecutive stops, but there’s still more we can work on. We’re not the greatest defensive team in the country, but we’re going to keep working, keep getting better offensively and defensively.”