Iowa has hit a rough patch in the midst of their non-conference schedule after falling to Omaha 98-89 at home on December 3rd. The Hawkeyes have now lost four straight. It’s the first time Iowa has lost four straight non-conference games since 2007.
The losing streak includes a blowout loss to Virginia (74-41) and three games of allowing 90 plus points: Memphis (100-92), Notre Dame (92-78) and Omaha (98-89).
Fran McCaffery called out his team before the Notre Dame game, saying that his team’s defense has been atrocious all season. Apparently that statement wasn’t motivating enough for the Hawkeyes. They dropped two more games after McCaffery’s call out. Iowa now ranks 333rd in defensive scoring; allowing 85 points per game.
Let’s Try To Stay Positive
Even after four straight loses there’s still some positive takeaways. Freshmen Jordan Bohannon and Cordell Pemsl have been fantastic at times on the offensive end. Pemsl scored a career high 24 points against Notre Dame and added 18 points against Omaha. He’s been incredibly efficient too, only missing one shot in both games. Bohannon also had his career high 23 points against Notre Dame, nailing 7 three-pointers. He added 20 points and 6 threes against Omaha.
The emergence of Pemsl and Bohannon has provided steady offensive production even with the loss of freshman stud Tyler Cook. When Cook comes back from injury, the tandem of Pemsl and Cook down low is something Iowa fans can look to as a bright spot.
There’s not many positives to takeaway from Iowa’s defensive performances so far, but one thing to note is that they actually had decent defensive spurts against Notre Dame. They forced Notre Dame to commit 14 turnovers, the majority of those turnovers coming in the first half. That’s impressive because the Fighting Irish were only averaging 6 turnovers per game heading into the matchup. Although the Hawkeyes allowed 92 points, the Irish got 30 of those points from the free throw line. Cut the points from free throws in half and Iowa is right in that game.
It’s A New Week For Iowa And It’s A Big One
The Hawkeyes will have an opportunity to get back on track against the Stetson Hatters (4-5) Tuesday night at home. Even with the recent slide, I expect Iowa to take care of business at home. Even if Iowa doesn't play well, Stetson doesn’t pose the same threat as Omaha did in the upset over the weekend. Omaha was competitive against other power five conference schools: (USC) and (Kansas State). Stetson has only played one Top 100 opponent, losing to UFC 81-45.
We know the Hawkeyes can score the ball, but they need to make adjustments on the defensive end to be competitive in the Big Ten. Stetson is a lesser opponent where they can make needed adjustments and improve enough to gain more confidence on that end of the floor. A solid performance and a victory against Stetson could lead to some much needed faith. Faith is important for Iowa fans because Carver Hawkeye Arena needs to be loud for Iowa’s biggest non-conference game of the season on Thursday night against in-state rival Iowa State.
Iowa still has plenty of work to do, but they are young and have offensive talent. Hawkeye fans need to treat this week’s Iowa State matchup like the biggest game of the year, because there might not be much to cheer about once Big Ten play starts.