The Takeaways: Hawkeyes Aren't Bothered By Bad News
No Cordell Pemsl.
No CJ Fredrick.
The growing injury problem isn't impeding Iowa, which pulled off a 68-54 win at Syracuse in Tuesday's ACC/Big Ten Challenge game.
The Hawkeyes' rotation keeps getting shorter. Jack Nunge is out for the season with a torn ACL. Patrick McCaffery is out indefinitely as he deals with his health issues.
Then, before Tuesday's game, it was announced that Pemsl (back) and Fredrick (quad) were hurt and wouldn't be playing.
That left eight scholarship players available for the game, and all eight contributed in the win.
Iowa (6-2) outscored Syracuse (4-4) 38-25 in the second half, moving the ball well against the Orange's 2-3 zone.
The Hawkeyes are now 2-1 in what looked to be a pivotal seven-game stretch early in the season. Surviving this early stretch without key players is a sign of this team's chemistry, and that's a good sign moving forward.
The takeaways from Tuesday night:
The Hawkeyes have been flummoxed at times by zone defenses in the past, and the Orange, masters of the 2-3 zone, figured to be a problem.
The early part of this game was trying to get the ball inside to Luka Garza, with some success.
But then the Hawkeyes' outside shooting got going. Iowa finished with 11 3-pointers, five by Jordan Bohannon, who struggled early before finding his range.
The key to this was putting Connor McCaffery in the middle of the zone. McCaffery, among the nation's leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio, knew how to move the ball around to the right spots.
McCaffery finished the game with four assists, but the way the Hawkeyes moved the ball isn't going to show up as a statistic.
Speaking of McCaffery...
The third-year sophomore is playing the best of his career.
He finished with just five points, but along with the assist total had five rebounds and a steal. He also didn't turn the ball over.
Garza had 23 points and nine rebounds, and Syracuse didn't have an answer for him after the first few minutes.
He was 9-of-15 from the field, including a big 3-pointer in the second half as the Hawkeyes started to pull away.
There isn't a lot of depth to the Hawkeyes' frontcourt these days, and more and more teams will collapse on him.
But Garza continues to learn ways to handle that, which is going to make him a more difficult cover as Iowa heads into the meat of the Big Ten schedule.
We're one game closer to Bohannon having to make a choice to sit the rest of the season as he continues to recover from offseason hip surgery.
He looks more and more like himself — he finished with 17 points, including five 3-pointers. Bohannon played 36:41 in this game, the most of any Hawkeye.
The question will be how he feels in the coming weeks.
The sum of their parts
Only eight Hawkeyes played. Everyone contributed.
It's easy to point to the numbers of Garza and Bohannon, and of sophomore Joe Wieskamp, who had 13 points.
But Ryan Kriener, starting in Fredrick's place, contributed five rebounds and two assists. Freshman Joe Toussaint had five points, two assists and two rebounds. Bakari Evelyn had a big 3-pointer in the first half. Riley Till gave Iowa 10 good minutes, with three rebounds and an assist.
For the Hawkeyes to continue to be successful, they'll need the little things from everyone.