The Box Score: Inside Hawkeye Basketball Statistics

BY BEN ROSS | NOVEMBER 20, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Box Score is a weekly segment in which a Daily Iowan basketball reporter uses statistics to contextualize the Iowa men’s basketball team’s performance over the course of the season.

Iowa basketball is 4-0 on the year but hasn’t really played any team of significance. The Hawkeyes have put up some eye-popping numbers in its games, three of which have been routs. Iowa has put up more than 100 points in back-to-back contests for the first time since the Alford era, and there’s still some good to be found in seemingly inflated stats.

Field-Goal Percentage — Aaron White, No. 1 in Big Ten

Aaron White is arguably Iowa’s best player, and he’s been playing lights-out against this stretch against inferior competition. Which is what all-conference-caliber players should do. The junior forward leads the Big Ten in field-goal percentage at a clip of 71 percent. He’s made 22 of his 31 shots to average a little over 15 points per game.

He’s shooting even better at close range, making 78 percent of his 2-point shots. White is 0-3 from 3-point land this season, but that has never really been his strong suit. With such shooters as Devyn Marble, Peter Jok, Zach McCabe, and Mike Gesell on the team, White should just continue to drive the lane and hit his silky pull-up jumpers or slam the rock down with the force of 1,000 suns.

Team Free-Throw Percentage — Iowa 75 percent, No. 2 in Big Ten

Iowa has gotten to the charity stripe a lot in its first four games. The Hawkeyes have attempted a 138 penalty shots this season — good for second in the conference after Indiana’s 162 — and has made 104 of them at a 75 percent clip. Michigan State leads the conference, making just under 77 percent of its free throws. But the Spartans have attempted just 65 penalty shots, which points to Iowa and Indiana as being perhaps the best teams in the conference at drawing a foul and getting to attempt some easy buckets.

Assists Per Game — Iowa No. 9 in NCAA

Iowa is all about distributing the ball and finding the open man. The Hawkeyes are ninth in the nation in assists per game, averaging 20 collaborations each contest. That’s about 40 points generated each game because of Iowa’s unselfish players and tendency to find a man who’s going to score points.

Iowa is also seventh in the nation with 80 total assists, ahead of many teams that have played one or two more games than the Hawkeyes. Conference foe Michigan State leads the nation in total assists, and the Spartans are currently ranked No. 1 overall in the national standings. If Iowa’s doing something similar to Michigan State, that usually means it’s doing something well.

3-Point Percentage — Iowa 35 Percent, No. 8 in Big Ten

Iowa has never really relied on the long shot to win games under current head coach Fran McCaffery, but it would be nice to see this clip rise as the season goes on. Iowa has many capable forwards in Aaron White, Melsahn Basabe, and Jarrod Uthoff who should be able to suck defenders into the lane, leaving Devyn Marble or Mike Gesell open for an easy trey.

The Hawkeyes haven’t had a lights-out shooter since Matt Gatens, really, and if the numbers tell us anything, senior forward Zach McCabe may just be Iowa’s best 3-point shooter. He’s leading the conference in 3-point percentage, making 62 percent of his long shots. Sure, he’s made 5 of just 8, but he only takes high percentage shots and won’t jack up more than three or so a game if he’s on a cold streak. That being said, if the 6-7 forward ends up being the best option at long-range for Iowa, the team may have some other problems that need addressing.

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