By Pete Ruden
It was another game in the Cayman Islands and another tough loss for Iowa, as South Dakota State took the Hawkeyes down, 80-72, on Nov. 21.
Isaiah Moss led Iowa in scoring for the second-consecutive game, dropping 18 points after a 24–point performance in an 80-71 loss to Louisiana the day before.
Turnovers were a killer for the Hawkeyes, as they committed 15, 9 in the first half.
South Dakota State made the most of its opportunity on the extra possessions, cashing in for 25 points.
Free throws, which have been a problem for a while now, also hurt Iowa; it went just 8-of-15 from the line.
The Jackrabbits were a threat from behind the arc. They shot 4-of-9 from 3-point range in the first half and 10-of-20 for the game, while the Hawkeyes could only muster 3 in the first half and finished 8-of-21 when the final buzzer sounded.
“We have been talking about our defense and how we haven’t been as connected as we need to be,” head coach Fran McCaffery said in a release. “That’s true, but we weren’t connected offensively. We moved the ball, kind of executed, and didn’t execute other times. When you’re behind, you have to execute every time you get the ball and be connected every time they get the ball.”
Forward Ahmad Wagner was a bright spot for the Hawkeyes, scoring a season-high 11 points, just a point shy of his career high. He shot 5-of-6 from the field, including a 3-pointer, and racked up 3 rebounds.
One of the better on-ball defenders on the team, Wagner also recorded a steal.
Jack Nunge also had a solid day off the bench, posting 14 points to go along with 2 rebounds and an assist.
Iowa might not have accomplished its main goals, but it’s good for the Hawkeyes to have at least one player gaining confidence when times are tough.
To accomplish its goals as a team, though, the Hawkeyes will have to be more consistent.
“We’re spotty right now, great in some segments, not so great in some segments,” Wagner said in a release. “That’s something we have to fix — our consistency — if we’re going to be a great team, which we can be.”
The last two games have left fans wondering where the Iowa team is that appeared in the first two games of the season.
Unlike those games, where the ball movement was incredible and the Hawkeyes assisted on what seemed like nearly every bucket, Iowa couldn’t balance its offense.
While there where six players in double figures in the first game and five in the second, Iowa had four players score in double digits against the Jackrabbits.
Iowa also recorded 16 assists on 28 field goals, which is an improvement from its pace in the first half.
With a team full of underclassmen, finding ways to pull out wins in close games will be a key as the season chugs along.
“We have to be better, get better, and even though we have a young team, we have to play like a veteran team in close games late. We didn’t do that yesterday or today,” McCaffery said in a release. “We made runs, were right there and could have won either game, but we didn’t win either game. You have to understand what you have to do in those situations better. That’s execute; good teams execute their stuff.”