When facing a team as offensively talented as the Seton Hall Pirates, defenses must bring their A-game. Iowa did not in their 91-83 loss at Carver Hawkeye Arena on Thursday night, giving up too many easy buckets, especially in the second half.
“I would like to have seen us play better defense, collectively,” head coach Fran McCaffery said of his team’s performance. “For the duration, but certainly in the second half, you can’t give them 66 percent (shooting)… and the truth of the matter is we had a pretty experienced team out there. Everyone wants to talk about youth. That was a pretty experienced team out here that did not defend. We have to get better.”
Iowa could not contain Seton Hall’s three main perimeter scorers, as Khadeen Carrington (20), Desi Rodriguez (25), and Myles Powell (26) combined for 71 of the Pirates’ 91 points.
“They were great one-on-one players,” Iowa’s Peter Jok said after the game. “They’ve got a lot of guards and we didn’t help each other. Our team defense was really bad, but we’re going to work on that and get better from it.”
The Hawkeyes also struggled to protect the rim, as Seton Hall poured in 50 points in the paint compared to Iowa’s 24.
“We changed defenses, we went to the press, we went to the zone,” McCaffery said of his team’s adjustments. “We just didn’t perform to the level that’s necessary.”
Seton Hall broke contain on the press and slashed their way to the basket for layups and dunks. The Pirates also ran high-low action to isolate Nicholas Baer two-on-one on the block, which also led to high percentage looks. For the night, Seton Hall shot 51 percent, including a blistering 65.5 percent in the second half. When Iowa needed a stop the most, they couldn’t get it. Instead, they treaded water by trading baskets, and the comeback ultimately ran out of steam.
The silver lining, however, is that Iowa got career-high production from stars Peter Jok and Tyler Cook. Jok set a new career mark with 30 points on 11-21 shooting, and also recorded his first career double-double by chipping in 11 rebounds. Freshman phenom Tyler Cook recorded a career best with 24 points on 9-15 from the field, but struggled from the free throw line, shooting just 5-12 from the stripe.
“I think tonight, overall, was a learning experience,” Cook said of Iowa’s first true test of the year. “There was a lot of stuff we could have done during the game and down the stretch to pull out a W; consistency on the defensive end, limiting our turnovers, knowing the offense. I think they out-fought us down the stretch.”
Iowa committed 17 turnovers that came back to bite them, as the Pirates scored 21 points off of Hawkeye turnovers. Iowa also shot just 19-32 from the free throw line, a number that McCaffery believes will prove to be an anomaly.
For just the second time in their last 41 non-conference home games, Iowa came out on the losing end. Additionally, Iowa moves to 52-8 when scoring over 80 points in the last six seasons.
The season is still young, and an Iowa team with a lot of new faces passed their first test of the year, despite not coming out victorious.