As this kid continues to play point guard for the University of Iowa, I continually start to think he's going to turn into one of the best in Hawkeye history. He's the only freshman in the country with 140+ assists and 70+ three point makes and continues to play really well in big games. Tonight was no different. He had 24 points and 10 assists for an Iowa team that looked dead flat for a majority of the game on Thursday night. He did have some silly turnovers, but you can't ask for more than 24 & 10 from a true freshman. We know he's going to knock down wide open 3's, but I'd really like to see the defense and his ability to get to the rim improve. If that happens, look out. Jordan exceeded all expectations I had for him coming into this season. Fran McCaffery really found a diamond in the rough with Jordan.
He looked like he'd checked out tonight. And it was from the start. He had a clear lane to cut Robert Johnson's angle towards the basket off during a fast break and instead, he jogged back and let Johnson coast in for an easy layup. That kind of laziness can't be accepted on the court, especially from your senior leader. He was poor on offense, poor on defense, and just looked like he mentally did not want to be there. I expected more from a guy that leads a team that is right on the cusp of making the NCAA Tournament. He was blanketed pretty heavily by the Indiana defense, but it was a fairly underwhelming performance from Pete tonight. I usually have a tough time saying a kid didn't work hard, because a lot of times that is not fair at all. These kids bust their butts, but Jok looked like he was checked out against Indiana.
Iowa BTT Struggles
The loss makes Fran McCaffery now 2-8 in Big Ten Tournament play. It also makes 4 straight seasons that the Hawkeyes have failed to even win a game. All four losses have come to teams that were double digit seeds in the tournament as well. It's really hard to put my finger on why the Hawkeyes are struggling when it comes to the Big Ten Tournament, but they've just gotten outplayed in about everyone of those match-ups. Their opponents have just been playing harder and they're looking like they want it more. I know, I know that's about a cliche as it gets, but sometimes it's that simple. It was that simple tonight. Indiana simply gave a much better effort than Iowa did and that is a big reason why they won by as much as they did. Is it a preparation thing? I don't know. I think Fran McCaffery works his butt of as the Iowa men's basketball coach, so I won't go there. The Hawkeye team has just looked flat in the Big Ten tournament in each of the last four seasons.
The bench has been a really big key during Iowa's winning streak to cap off the regular season. Nicholas Baer was probably the biggest key off that bench and he didn't score until there was about 2 minutes left in the game. He didn't record a rebound and had just three points after averaging almost 14 in the four games prior. Brady Ellingson also didn't score and he's usually good for a three or two per game. Cordell Pemsl was a bright spot off the bench notching a double double with 14 points and 11 rebounds in 28 minutes, so that is a positive to take from this loss. Tyler Cook spent the night in foul trouble and ended with 8 points and 7 rebounds. If not for the foul trouble he might've had a bigger impact in the game, but he was averaging almost 14 per game in the last 4 as well. Iowa had five guys play that did not score.
It was non-existent. Indiana scorched the nets in the second half, shooting 60% from both the field and from 3-point land for the entire game on their way to a 95 point performance. They got good looks at the rim and their shots were falling, which is a recipe for success almost all of the time. Four guys had double figures for IU and two others had 9 points apiece. Iowa got out-rebounded and Indiana had five guys hit two or more three pointers. It was really a total team effort from the Hoosiers, who got open looks and subsequently knocked them down. It reminded me a little of Iowa's defensive performance against Omaha earlier in the year. The effort level needs to be higher when we find out who Iowa will play in the NIT this year.