IOWA CITY — It’s a new era of Iowa basketball when the Hawkeyes get outplayed and still win by 22 points.
In the team’s only public exhibition this year, the Hawkeyes struggled to establish rhythm offensively against Division III Augustana (Ill.), yet still won 87-65. Iowa sank as many baskets (23) as the Vikings, but knocked down nearly double as many free throws (39) as Augustana attempted (20). Still, that was no consolation for Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery, who demanded more from his highly touted team.
“I knew what we were going to get from this team the day we scheduled this game,” McCaffery said. “We got outplayed, and we won the game. We were substantially outplayed today by that team. And I think it’s exactly what our team needed today.
“I think we needed to get outfought, to get outplayed.”
McCaffery let his players know how he felt after the game. When asked in what manner McCaffery informed them of his displeasure, junior Aaron White said, “exactly like you’d expect him to.”
“He’s disappointed like I’m disappointed,” White said. “He got his point across as he should have.”
Iowa received votes in both the Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches preseason polls. With 93 percent of its scoring returning, many expect the Hawkeyes to take another leap toward the Big Ten hierarchy and their first NCAA tournament bid since 2006. Instead, they received a dose of humility on Sunday.
Augustana was 19-8 last year and feature an experienced roster. The Vikings had won four league titles in the last seven years and play physical defense. They shifted from zone to man frequently and kept Iowa off-balance, point guard Devyn Marble said.
“They don’t have the size and the depth but they’re similar (to Big Ten teams),” Marble said. “You’re going to get some similarities to how we’re going to be playing in the league and non-conference. We definitely needed that. We’ve definitely got a lot of things to work on.”
Iowa couldn’t shake Augustana in the first half. The Hawkeyes led by nine, but he Vikings chopped it to one in a 10-2 sequence. Danielus Jurgutis drilled a 3-pointer and was fouled by Iowa’s Gabe Olaseni. Jurgutis sank the ensuing free throw, then followed up Augustana’s next trip up the floor with a traditional three-point play. Jawan Straughter knocked down a 3-pointer to cut Iowa’s lead to 20-19.
The Hawkeyes scored on their next five possessions, highlighted by a Zach McCabe 3-pointer. But the Vikings kept pace for much of the half until Iowa pulled away for a 14-point halftime advantage.
“I think people kind of have this sense that we’ve done something already, which we haven’t,” White said. “We kind of proved that tonight, that this team hasn’t won anything so far. We’ve just got to prove everything on the floor.”
White and senior Zach McCabe produced solid outings for Iowa, both scoring 16 points. White hit 8-of-10 free throws to go along with his four baskets. McCabe was 11-of-12 from the free-throw line and grabbed eight rebounds. Iowa sophomore Adam Woodbury produced the game’s only double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
As expected, the game was officiated more tightly because of new rules designed to allow more freedom of movement. Augustana was whistled for 33 fouls, and three players fouled out. Iowa was called for 19. The Hawkeyes also struggled from 3-point range, shooting just 2-of-18.
Iowa’s effort was far from what McCaffery wanted to see from his team, just five days before the season opener against North Carolina-Wilmington.
“We needed a team that was going to force us into some mistakes,” McCaffery said. “We did some things that were good, did enough good things to win and there were some individual performances that I thought were terrific.”
Iowa sophomore Anthony Clemmons did not play because of a slightly sprained ankle on Friday. McCaffery said Clemmons is likely to play on Friday.
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