I figured the only way that the Hawkeyes were winning without Peter Jok was if they played a complete game as a team. And they did just that. They played for each other and we're extremely unselfish and that made them very difficult to defend. They had everyone chip in. had 4 guys in double figures, and their shot makers made shots. It's a pretty simple formula if you're making your shots. They moved the ball, hustled on offense and defense, and made open shots. In some ways, I think they were more difficult to defend without Peter Jok. Thad Matta said after the game that he didn't have any clue Jok wouldn't be playing. So, everything Ohio State worked on on the defensive side of the ball to neutralize Jok was out of the picture. And then when you have four guys clicking like that, with good pieces around it (the bench had 44 points) makes you really difficult to guard. Plus, I thought the energy was good for the full 40 minutes, which hadn't been the case recently.
He and Iowa both needed this. The Hawkeyes needed to get to a point where a guy, who was a shell of himself, wasn't playing 30 minutes and chucking up 12 shots a game. Obviously, when Peter Jok is himself you want him taking 12-15 shots a game, maybe more. But when he's hurt it hurts your team. And for Jok, he needs to get healthy. He's not helping Iowa when he's hurt and he's not helping himself either. So, it was wise for him to sit this one out. But, I still took a lot from Pete on Saturday. He was the teams biggest fan. Standing up and cheering when one of his teammates would make a shot. He was even putting his two cents in and helping guys out with his knowledge. Jok is a great player to have on this team for many reasons and we'll have to see when the medical staff tells Fran McCaffery that Jok should be good to go. Pete was even out putting his teammates through close-out drills during warm ups. Obviously, Iowa is better with Jok, so once he is right he'll be a welcomed addition to the starting lineup again.
When you think about a young team, you probably think they turn it over at a decent clip. Last night, Iowa was incredible taking care of the ball. They had just 9 turnovers for the game and just three for the second half. That's incredible for a young team playing without their senior leader. They got sloppy a little in the first half, but for the most part they did really well. Only Jordan Bohannon and Tyler Cook had multiple turnovers and the Buckeyes were only able to total six points off those 9 Iowa turnovers. The Hawkeyes on the flip side had 18 points off of 12 Ohio State turnovers. You could factor in the fact that they are playing at home, because they've been leaps and bounds better in Iowa City than they have been on the road, but either way they were really good on Saturday night. Lets see if that carries over to Tuesday on the road at Rutgers.
New Starting Five
Obviously, the starters had to change with Jok being sidelined, but like a lot predicted McCaffery shoved Nicholas Baer and Ahmad Wagner in there for a couple of reasons. They were both playing consistent basketball and they are the two guys that bring a lot of energy off the bench. The Hawkeyes had been lacking that early in games, so Fran threw them in the fire to start. Little did he know, he got Ryan Kriener and Brady Ellingson to basically fill the roles of Baer and Wagner off the bench with their hustle and shot making. That duo combined for 31 points and they were the two leading scorers for Iowa on Saturday night. I'm not sure what McCaffery will do heading forward, but I don't see any reason to shy away from the five he used to start the game on Saturday. The only reason would be if Peter Jok is healthy enough to come back, which I don't think he will be.
Playing W/ The Lead
Another knock on young teams is that it can be hard to play with and keep a lead. You start thinking about wasting clock, which in turn gets you out of the rhythm you were in. Then all of a sudden the other team is nipping at your heals. We see it very often. However, the Hawkeyes didn't do that against the veteran Buckeyes on Saturday. The Buckeyes got the lead down to 9 a couple times early in the second half, but for the most part the Hawkeyes played with that lead and didn't really let the Buckeyes back into it at all. They kept going to the guys that were hot and fed Tyler Cook early on, he had 10 of his 13 points in the second half. I thought Ohio State really struggled on offense, but you can give some credit to the young Hawkeyes. Isaiah Moss had all 6 of his points in the second half as well. It was good a experience for a young team. Now, let's see if it translates to Tuesday.