The Big Ten had just one game on Friday night, but it was a huge one for the state of Iowa as the Hawkeyes faced off against Iowa State at home. Both programs are coming off NCAA Tournament appearances and Iowa State is coming off a Big 12 Tournament championship and a Sweet Sixteen appearance. With Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State has been able to put together a good run and the battle for the state of Iowa has reached a new level of intensity. The matchup on Friday night would be a good indicator of how the programs are moving forward.
Game of the Day: Iowa State at Iowa
The Hawkeyes kept this one competitive for the entire 1st Half, but things slipped away early in the 2nd Half and Iowa could never catch up. Ultimately, Iowa fell to Iowa State by a final score of 90-75. The big players in this one were Aaron White and Iowa State's Naz Long. White finished with 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 assist. Long finished with 21 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. Iowa State's George Niang also had a big game with 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists. So far this year, Niang has an impressive 27.5% assist rate.
The biggest issue in this one was on the defensive side of the court, but a lot of it had to do with a really good shooting night for the Cyclones. Iowa State ended up with 1.22 points per possession, but shot 59.5% from 2PT range and an impressive 44.4% as a team from 3PT range. With those numbers, it's just going to be hard to keep up. In fact, Iowa's 75 points was actually higher than its season average of 72.3, but when Iowa State has 6 players end up with 106+ offensive ratings, that is just going to be hard to beat. If Iowa can play a little better defensively and avoid a team shooting this well, they should probably be just fine overall.
For Iowa, this is not a bad loss. Before the season began, people were seriously discussing Iowa State as a Final Four contender and their 7-1 start to the season certainly backs that up at least to an extent. The Cyclones may not be a Duke or Kentucky, but they are a quality team and Iowa just let the game get away from them. This one should certainly have been closer - or at least from what we have seen - but games do get away from teams. Fortunately for the Hawkeyes, they will get some time off to recover from this one as they move on to face a good Northern Iowa team in the team's last big non-conference challenge. If Iowa can pull out a win there, they will have went 2-3 in their big non-conference games, which is certainly not bad. It was a rough night for Hawkeye fans, but certainly not something that this team can recover from going forward.