Iowa (1-0) trailed just once, 2-0, but when 6-7 freshman combo forward Greg Brunner knocked down a three pointer from the right wing at the 19:15 mark to put the Hawkeyes up 3-2, they took the lead for good and never looked back.
Iowa's intense and stingy man-to-man defense kept the Owls from scoring for almost an eight and a half minute stretch in the first half. Florida Atlantic (2-3) missed 16 straight shots during that time.
The Hawkeyes took a comfortable 32-16 lead into the locker room at halftime. 6-3 freshman point guard Jeff Horner led Iowa in scoring with nine points on 3-5 shooting from the floor during the first twenty minutes of play.
The Hawkeyes came out in the second half a runnin' and a gunnin'. Iowa outscored Florida Atlantic 11-2 in the first three minutes of the second half, and increased their lead to 25 points at 43-18 on a three pointer by Horner on the right wing with 17:20 remaining in the game.
Iowa would take their largest lead of 27 points at 45-18 less than a minute later, on a fifteen foot jumper from 6-0 senior combo guard Chauncey Leslie. Florida Atlantic, who was playing their fifth game in the last seven days, would not lay down and die though, as they would use a 13-2 run of their own midway through the second half to cut Iowa's lead down to 16 at 47-31.
However Horner once again showed his passing skills, as he hit 6-2 senior guard Josh Kimm slashing to the hoop with a no look pass. Kimm finished with a lay up, and put an end to Florida Atlantic's run.
Iowa would once again match their largest lead of 27 points at 79-52, when 6-5 junior walk-on wing forward Kurt Spurgeon drained a three pointer from deep in the left corner with 1:35 remaining in the game.
Leslie, who scored a career high 20 points on 7-13 (54%) shooting from the floor and 6-8 (75%) from the free throw line, led Iowa in scoring. Three other Hawkeyes established career highs as well. 6-11 junior center Jared Reiner finished with career highs in both scoring with 15 points and rebounds with 14. The two freshman starters, Horner and Brunner both finished in double figures with 15 and 12 points respectively.
Iowa shot 23-42 (55%) from two point range and 5-10 (50%) from beyond the three point arc. While Florida Atlantic struggled from the floor shooting 19-54 (35%) from two point land, and 5-16 (31%) from three point range. The Hawkeyes also controlled the free throw line, as they were 28-36 (78%), and the Owls did not reach the free throw line until midway through the second half. Florida Atlantic finished 9-10 (90%) from the free throw line.
Iowa dominated the boards as they out rebounded Florida Atlantic 41-28. Along with Reiner's 14 rebounds, Horner, Brunner and 6-7 junior combo forward Glen Worley collected six rebounds a piece.
The win was Iowa's 25th straight season opening win. Iowa last lost a game to begin the season back during the 1977-78 season when they dropped a 79-78 decision to Iowa State.
The Hawkeyes will be back in action on Tuesday, as they travel west on Interstate 80 to Des Moines to take on Drake (1-0). Iowa has won 23 consecutive games vs. the Bulldogs, dating back to the 1978-79 season. The Hawkeyes hold a 49-7 cushion in the series.
Some of the highlights from Iowa's 79-52 win over Florida Atlantic:
Chauney Leslie's ability to score - We saw in Iowa's two exhibition games that Leslie could put up some numbers offensively, and he was definitely able to prove that was no fluke as he went off for a career high 20 points. Leslie's previous career high in scoring was 15 points vs. Boston University last season.
The two freshmen – Jeff Horner and Greg Brunner. The "dynamic duo" showed that they have been waiting for the moment to put that Iowa uniform on in a regular season game for a long time. Horner's court leadership and scoring ability at the point guard position is something Hawkeye fans will love throughout the season. Brunner just makes things happen! He has the range out beyond the arc, as he showed in getting Iowa's first points of the season by drilling a three pointer from the right wing, and the ability to finish with the emphatic dunk underneath.
Jared Reiner - He is becoming the player that the Hawkeyes saw in high school when Iowa recruited him. Reiner finished with career highs in scoring with 15 points and rebounds with 14, his first of many double-doubles to come this season. Reiner's previous career high in scoring was 12 points vs. Alabama State in last season's Gazette Hawkeye Challenge. His previous career high in rebounds was nine vs. Maryland Eastern Shore in last season's 89-59 season opening win.
Team defense: The Hawkeyes came out and played stingy man-to-man defense and took control of the boards, which enabled them to race out to a 17 point lead at 23-6 in the first half. They held Florida Atlantic scoreless for almost eight and a half minutes during the first half, a stretch where the Owls missed 16 straight shots.