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Iowa Features Three-Point Shooting, Versatility on Offense

(Photo via Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Despite the attempts of Colgate’s Jordan Burns to steal the show on Friday afternoon, No. 2 seed Tennessee (30-5) advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a 77-70 win over the Raiders.

With the win, the Vols now have to face 10-seed Iowa (23-11). The Hawkeyes are coming off a 79-72 upset win over seven-seed Cincinnati. Iowa rallied from a 36-31 halftime deficit to advance to the round of 32.

In the comeback victory, Iowa was led by Luka Garza, who scored 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Garza has now scored 20 points or more in two of Iowa’s last four games. The sophomore center became the sixth Hawkeye in history to have 20 points and seven rebounds in his NCAA Tournament debut.

The Hawkeyes were able to storm back from as many as 13 points down because of its shooting performance in the second half. Iowa shot 65.4 percent (17-of-26) in the final half of play, including 63.6 percent (7-of-11) from the 3-point line. When making 10 or more threes, the Hawkeyes are now 10-2 on the season.

That’s where it starts and begins with this Iowa basketball team – it’s ability to shoot the basketball.

Among Big Ten teams, Iowa ranks second in scoring offense (78.3), second in assists (15.7), third in free throw percentage (.738), third in 3-point field goals per game (8.2), third in field goal percentage (.458), and fourth in 3-point field goal percentage (.365).

According to KenPom, Iowa’s offense ranks 14th in all of college basketball in adjusted offensive efficiency.

At 11.4 points per game, Jordan Bohannon leads the three-point barrage. The junior guard is shooting 38 percent from three and is just two 3-pointers shy of becoming Iowa’s all-time leader in 3-point field goals made.

“Obviously I love shooting threes,” Bohannon said on Saturday afternoon. “Every time I step on the floor, I’m trying to shoot as much as I can. So, I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Hopefully I can get a lot of threes off.”

Bohannon has led the Big Ten in free throw percentage the past two seasons and only missed seven free throws in 20 conference games this season. He’s also an excellent passer. The Iowa native averages 3.4 assists per game and is just the seventh Hawkeye to register three 100-assist seasons.

Iowa’s forward duo of Tyler Cook and Luka Garza are the team’s leading scorers. Cook averages a team-high 14.6 points per game and 7.8 rebounds while Garza scores 13.1 points.

Cook, a Second-Team All-Big Ten selection, is a 1,000-point scorer and one of just 15 players to have 15 or more double-doubles in Iowa history. On the season, the junior is shooting 51 percent from the field. Cook is averaging 30.8 minutes per game, and he’s pulled down 71 offensive rebounds.

Garza, on the other hand, earned an honorable all-conference mention this season by the media due to his play. At 6-foot-11, the sophomore will likely be matched up with Tennessee’s Kyle Alexander. Garza is shooting 53 percent from the field and can knock down threes on occasion, shooting just under 30 percent from distance.

“They’re a different team when he’s (Alexander) not on the court,” Garza said. “He’s really athletic, long, can really affect shots around the rim.”

While Cook and Garza don’t spark Iowa’s 3-point barrage, Joe Wieskamp, Isaiah Moss, and Nicholas Baer assist Bohannan in doing just that.

Wieskamp, a freshman guard, shoots a team-high 43 percent from the 3-point line. He was named to the All-Big Ten freshman team following his performance during his rookie campaign. Over the last three games, Wieskamp is 5-of-11 from three and averaging 11.7 points.

Between Wieskamp, Moss, and Baer, the trio have combined to attempt 359 threes. Wieskamp shoots it the best, but Moss and Baer aren’t far behind him. In 34 starts this season, Moss is shooting 41 percent from three while Baer is shooting 38 percent.

As the first player off the bench, Baer is the only player in program history to total 750 points, 500 rebounds, 100 blocked shots, 100 assists, 100 steals and 100 three-pointers.

Iowa’s offense has led the Hawkeyes to 23 wins this season – the second most in the Fran McCaffery era. But Iowa’s defense is the reason the Hawkeyes lost six out of their last eight games entering the tournament.

According to KenPom, Iowa’s adjusted defensive efficiency ranks 116th in the country. The Hawkeyes are allowing 73.6 points per game, which ranks 13th in the Big Ten and 239th in the NCAA. Opponents are shooting 44.8 percent against Iowa this season, which also ranks 13th in the conference and 231st in the country.

Iowa doesn’t block a lot of shots, nor does it turn teams over. The Hawkeyes average 3.2 blocks per game, ranking 188th in the country. Their 6.0 steals per game ranked in the middle of the Big Ten and 206th nationally.

The Hawkeyes put up a lot of points, but they also give up a lot of points. When asked on Saturday afternoon if Iowa was comfortable with getting in a shootout, McCaffery acknowledged that his team is, in fact, fine with doing that.

“Obviously, as any game goes on, adjustments are required,” McCaffery explained. “If you feel like you’re losing a shootout at some point, I think you might have to slow it down.

“I think you have to be smart enough to recognize, all right, let’s work the ball a little bit more. Let’s maybe try to shoot a few less threes and go inside a little bit more. Let’s put it on the deck and see if we can get to the free throw line.”

Two-seed Tennessee and 10-seed Iowa tip-off at 12:10 p.m. ET on CBS Sunday afternoon.

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