The game yesterday felt like a game that Iowa would've lost in past years. They had a three point lead at the break, but it should've been more. They gave up a few wide open three pointers late in the first half that allowed Michigan to close the gap. In the second half the Wolverines came out hot. They were connecting on 60% of their shots early in the half and had their lead out to 7 at one point. It looked like the Hawkeyes were done.
But they continued chipping away at the lead and with about 5 minutes left senior Peter Jok gave them the lead. Jok and Jordan Bohannon hit big shots down the stretch to get Iowa back in the game and eventually earn themselves a win. Even Cordell Pemsl connected on a layup to send the game into overtime. For how young these kids are, it's amazing the poise they showed coming back. This game is going to help Iowa over the next few months and the next few years. It's good experience for an extremely young team.
Bohannon is Ready
This kid took a lot of heat in non-conference play. And it wasn't because of his play. People doubted his ability to play point guard in the Big Ten. They said he was too short. They said he didn't weigh enough or that his feet are too slow. You name it. They said it. Over the first two Big Ten games, Bohannon has been Iowa's second best player. He scored 17 points, had 6 assists, and zero turnovers in Iowa's win on Sunday afternoon. Prior to that, he had 6 points, 4 assists, and zero turnovers in Iowa's Big Ten opener against Purdue. The most amazing thing for me was he saw consistent pressure over the first two games. Purdue lightly pressed in the full court and Michigan's Derrick Walton is, in my opinion, the best on ball defender in the Big Ten. This kid is ready and is coming into his own.
Middle of B1G is Wide Open
I had Michigan pegged as the fourth best team in the conference in my last power rankings, while Iowa was sitting at 10th. It's not shocking that the Hawkeyes beat the Wolverines, because I wound up predicting that. But this tells me that the middle of the Big Ten and maybe even the entire Big Ten is wide open. Purdue and Indiana were thought off as upper tier Big Ten teams, but after getting beat by Minnesota and Nebraska at home, respectively, who the heck knows. This is as balanced as the Big Ten has been in a long time, I feel, and it's really anybody's guess as to who is going to land where in March.
Last year, when Iowa collapsed late, it was because of inconsistent bench play. Well, in yesterday's game the Hawkeyes got good production from their bench guys. Nicholas Baer continues to prove why he's a candidate for 6th man of the year in the Big Ten, pouring in 12 points and adding 5 boards. He hit two three's in the first half that kept Iowa's lead intact while the starters were resting. Brady Ellingson continues to be quietly productive adding 6 points on 2-4 shooting and 2-2 at the free throw line.
If the bench is going to continue to produce like this it's going to help Iowa a lot. They will be able to rest starters for later on in the game and in the year. For Iowa, it was Peter Jok who led the way playing 34 minutes, but for Michigan, both Zak Irvin and DJ Wilson played 44 minutes. That may have played a role late in the game.
Defense Still Needs Tightening
The defense late in the first half and early in the second half looked like a November Iowa defensive display. Three point shooters were being left wide open and the Hawkeyes looked lost. Michigan's DJ Wilson had a career day pouring in 28 points for the Wolverines. Wilson probably wasn't the focal point of Iowa's defensive game plan, but he consistently found wide open shots, especially in the first half. Iowa is going to need to tighten the screws a bit and put together a full 40 minutes of defense. Fortunately for them, they were clicking on all cylinders on offense as well. However, it was still leaps and bounds better than it was back 5 weeks or so ago.