Iowa drilled 13 3-pointers while playing strong defense in Saturday’s 30-point loss to Michigan State. It was a combination that paid off almost everywhere on the floor.
“When you make triples and stop, it opens up driving lanes,” said Hawkeyes coach Fran McCaffery. “It opens posts. It opens up opportunities to get to the free throw line. It changes everything. I think it really changed the way our team performed offensively throughout the game.”
Iowa (15-6, 9-5 Big Ten) will try to repeat that formula when it visits No. 21 from Wisconsin (15-7, 9-6) on Thursday. The No. 11 Hawkeyes is looking for his third win in a row.
The Hawkeyes continue to adjust to CJ Frederick’s lower leg injury that has kept the sophomore out of the lineup for much of February. Frederick’s absence means McCaffery needs to make some changes to the lineup, and at Michigan State, that allowed the coach’s son, Connor, to enjoy a greater offensive workload as he moved from power forward to shooting guard.
After missing his first two attempts from deep, McCaffery hit four consecutive 3-pointers to set a career-high on the road to scoring 16 points.
That provided an effective complement for Jordan Wieskamp (21 points) and reserve Jack Nunge (18) when Connor McCaffery seized an opportunity.
“Most of the time, I avoid shooting and try to distribute more, but when (Fredrick) is out of the lineup, I know I have to be more aggressive,” he said. “And some games, that’s not natural. But I wanted to focus on that.
“People always tweet at me: ‘You can’t shoot. You cannot score. You are worth nothing on offense. ‘ Well, actually, I don’t shoot much. It’s different when you shoot two or three shots than when you can shoot eight or nine times. “
Wisconsin is coming off a 67-59 loss to No. 3 Michigan on Sunday. The Badgers blew a 12-point lead at halftime and were still up 57-54 with 4:01 to play before missing their last seven attempts from the field.
“Any loss really hurts,” Wisconsin’s D’Mitrik Trice said. “But this one, where we lead most of the game, it definitely hurts.”
Overall, the Badgers scored just six points and one field goal in the final 7:45. After shooting 53.8 percent in the first half, Wisconsin made 7 of 28 shots from the field after halftime and missed its last 11 3-point attempts.
“We got stuck a little bit in the second half,” said Aleem Ford of the Badgers. “In the first half, we had stops and we were able to push him and put them in difficult positions defensively where they made mistakes, and we were able to capitalize on them.”
The Badgers’ five starters combined for just 10 points on 2-for-16 shots in the second half, struggles the team will hope to reverse for the stretch ahead.
Beginning Thursday and ending with the regular season finale in Iowa on March 7, the Badgers are set to play three of their last five games against ranked teams.
“We still have a lot of chances in these last five games,” Trice said. “We can’t hang our heads for long.”
–Field level media
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.