After-thoughts from Iowa’s 84-78 loss to Iowa State:
--Fran McCaffery and his players struggle to explain why they continue to pile up so many turnovers. The Hawkeyes had 18 giveaways for the third straight game and they were the glaring difference in the game this time. McCaffery said a big part of it is players just trying to do too much and he said they also occasionally are misreading defenses. It’s something they need to correct if they have any prayer of digging out of the 4-6 hole they’ve dug for themselves.
--In an effort to reduce turnovers and match up better with the perimeter-oriented Cyclones, McCaffery went with a smaller starting lineup, using 6-foot-4 Brady Ellingson in place of 6-11 Luka Garza. It seemed to work very well in the first half, when the Hawkeyes had only six turnovers and took a 41-36 halftime lead. It was less effective in the second half.
--With more guards on the floor, several of Iowa’s big men did not play many minutes. Garza, who had started the first nine games, played only seven minutes. Ryan Kriener played only six and Ahmad Wagner only five. It didn’t hurt the team’s rebounding effort at all as Iowa held a huge 53-31 advantage on the boards. The last time it had more than 53 boards in a game was in the 2013-14 season. The Hawkeyes’ 20 offensive rebounds were their most since a game against Maryland last season.
--One other big number, a possible by-product of using three guards: The Hawkeyes attempted 36 3-point field goals, tied for the third most in Iowa history.
--Freshman Jack Nunge wasn’t at all intimidated by the hostile atmosphere in Hilton Coliseum and probably had the best game of his brief college career. He scored 16 points and reached career highs with eight rebounds and four assists. With the game close in the second half, he wasn’t afraid to take big shots. He nailed a 3-pointer to snap a 52-52 tie in the middle of the second half and scored inside with 28 seconds remaining to cut the Iowa State lead to three.
--Nicholas Baer looked like his old self for the first time this season, diving for loose balls, deflecting passes and making numerous hustle plays. He finished with eight points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes of action.
--Tyler Cook’s streak of having at least one dunk in 14 consecutive games came to an end as he scored only two points. With Iowa State double- and triple-teaming him inside, Cook did a good job of kicking the ball back out in the first half. His five assists were a career high.
--Cordell Pemsl was a major catalyst for Iowa in the second half. Iowa State’s 6-8, 245-pound center, Solomon Young, is very physical and a bit on the chippy side, and Pemsl was a major factor in standing up to him. Unfortunately, Pemsl went tumbling out of bounds and hit his right shin on some metal bleachers with less than three minutes to go in the game. It’s unknown at this point how seriously injured he was.
--Iowa State has three dynamic guards in Nick Weiler-Babb, Lindell Wigginton and Donovan Jackson, but it’s easy to envision the Cyclones having their hands full in the Big 12 this season. Thursday’s rebounding differential is a major red flag and it’s not a very deep team. Even when everyone is healthy, they only have 10 bodies to work with. An injury to one of those three guards could really be devastating. They played 37, 37 and 34 minutes Thursday.