Iowa defeats Alcorn State, 67-44, despite shooting woes


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It’s not that there haven’t been meaningful games; it’s just the meaningful ones have been outnumbered by blowouts and games that were over before halftime.

That was the case Tuesday night when Iowa defeated Alcorn State, 67-44, to improve to 8-2 on the season after six-straight wins.

Iowa let Alcorn State hang around for brief periods, but the Braves never posed a threat to the Hawkeyes. And despite a matchup with No. 14 Iowa State looming on Friday, Iowa never looked past the Braves.

“Therehave been so many teams losing games that they shouldn’t have,” guard Mike Gesell said. “So we were really focused in on Alcorn State, and now we get to move on to Iowa State.”

Despite focusing was solely on Alcorn State, Iowa came out of the gates slowly.

The Hawkeyes failed to find an offensive rhythm, mainly because the Braves insisted on slowing the pace down, often opting to pull the ball out and set up the offense rather than force the issue.

“They really wanted to slow the ball down tonight,” Gesell said. “It’s just one of those games where we had to try to keep our tempo, play our game. I think at the beginning of the game, we were kind of playing at their tempo.”

Iowa eventually found its groove, to the tune of a 10-0 run that gave the Hawkeyes their first double-digit lead of the game and a 15-point lead at halftime.

Iowa’s sloppy play early in the first half carried over in the early portions of the second half, but the Hawkeyes quickly turned it around, utilizing a 25-8 run over around 13 minutes to build a comfortable lead that held for the remainder of the game.

“I think we played with a greater sense of urgency in that next segment,” McCaffery said about the run. “Next thing, you look up, [the lead’s] 25, and the game is in hand. And now you just want to make sure you’re solid after that.”

Most of Iowa’s damage came from the free throw line, particularly in the first half, where the Hawks knocked down 12-of-14 attempts.

Despite the success from the free-throw line. Iowa continued its struggles from beyond the 3-point arc, hitting just 15.8 percent of its 3-point attempts, including a 0-for-10 shooting performance in the second half.

This isn’t a small sample size. Instead, it’s a trend that’s occurred throughout Iowa’s first 10 games. The Hawkeyes are shooting just 29.9 percent from beyond the arc on the season, 26.2 percent after the Hawkeyes’ first two games.

“They are wide open,” McCaffery said. “I only get upset if they start hunting them and start shooting uncontested 3s or ill-advised.”

Four Hawkeyes finished in double-digits — Aaron White, Jarrod Uthoff, Gabe Olaseni, and Dom Uhl.

White and Uthoff carried the load in the first half, combining for 28 points on just 16 shots from the field. Olaseni and Uhl took over in the second half.

Uhl posted a career-high with 11 points, and Olaseni finished with his second double-double of the season — 12 points and 10 rebounds.

“I think it’s a culmination,” Olaseni said about the factors that have sparked his strong play recently. “Obviously, the recent events, people look toward that, like I’m playing toward something. I feel as that I’m always playing for my family.”

Iowa now starts the portion of its schedule where every game is a battle. It starts with No. 14 Iowa State, then No. 23 Northern Iowa, and soon after that the Big Ten season will arrive.

There’s rarely a night off, if any. But at this point, meaningful games are what the team is ready for.

“I’m pleased with the development of some of the guys,” McCaffery said. “Our guys are playing well together, very unselfish team, sharing the ball, rebounding the ball, not turning it over. Do that, you’ve got a chance to win.”

Follow @JacobSheyko on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa men’s basketball team.

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