BLACKSBURG, Va. – The storyline of Tuesday’s game was as simple as diagramming a pick-and-roll on the chalkboard: How would Iowa’s improved defense fare against one of the nation’s highest-scoring basketball teams in Virginia Tech? The answer was downright offensive for the Hawkeyes.
“We looked like last year’s team, which I know we’re not,” Iowa’s Aaron White said after a disappointing 95-79 loss to Virginia Tech in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge at Cassell Coliseum. “I know we’ve gotten better defensively. We’ve just got to break it down, see what went wrong and learn from it. It’s definitely a step down from what we’ve been doing this season.”
The Hokies entered the game ninth nationally in scoring at 85.4 points per game. Iowa had allowed just 56.3 points a game and had not allowed more than 75. But the Hawkeyes reverted to last season when they were the worst defensive team in the Big Ten. Iowa gave up 108 points at Oregon, 103 at Indiana and 95 at Michigan State last season.
“That’s a very talented offensive team, with real quickness,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said of the Hokies. “They have a number of different offensive weapons. But I’m very disappointed to play defense the way we did.”
Virginia Tech, now 6-0, had five players in double figures. Guard Erick Green, the nation’s fifth-leading scorer at 24.4 points per game entering play Tuesday, didn’t score for the first 10 minutes. He finished with 24. Another guard, Robert Brown, added 18.
White scored 21 points to lead Iowa, including five dunks. Devyn Marble had 14 of his 18 points in the second half. Freshman Anthony Clemmons provided a spark with nine points in 16 minutes before fouling out. But it wasn’t nearly enough to keep up with the Hokies.
Iowa had held five of its first six opponents this season to less than 40 percent shooting. No one had shot better than Wichita State’s 41.8 mark in the final of last week’s Cancun Challenge. But the Hokies riddled that mark, shooting 52.5 percent.
“They’ve got a lot of firepower,” Marble said. “We probably didn’t get after them the way we needed to.”
Marble’s spin move in the lane gave Iowa a 37-36 lead with 3 minutes, 16 seconds remaining in the half. During the next 6:42, bridging both halves, the Hokies went on a 19-1 run. Green started the second half sco
ring the Hokies’ first nine points.
Iowa looked buried, but dug deep and responded with 16-2 run to cut the deficit to 57-54. Marble, who had three jump shots in the run, had a 3-pointer from the left corner rattle in-and-out that would have tied things with 11:15 remaining.
Virginia Tech responded with a 12-4 run and took the wind out of Iowa’s comeback.
“We said at halftime that they’d make their run,” Green said. “We did a great job of running, got some easy baskets and took the lead up again.”
Marble said the Hawkeyes lost their intensity on the way to dropping their seventh consecutive game in the annual conference clash.
“That’s pretty much what happened,” he said. “We stopped doing the things that got us back in the game.”
McCaffery said he sensed the comeback had fatigued his team. He made several substitutions, but the Hawkeyes never found a rhythm on either end of the floor after that.
“We did have a lot of young players on the floor,” McCaffery said. “I hope they learn from it. The unfortunate thing is that we had some experienced guys on the floor who were breaking down. And I thought we were beyond that.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball