IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa took UNC-Asheville’s team of eight freshmen without a senior to school Sunday with a 107-80 season-opening victory before a crowd of 10,978 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The most experienced team in Coach Steve Alford’s five-year tenure easily dispatched the Bulldogs with a strong offensive performance building up a 15-point lead at halftime with 56 points and then crushing UNCA 51-39 in the second period.
“I thought this was a very good effort from our guys,” Alford said. “I thought they did a lot of good things, especially at the offensive end. I don’t have a lot of complaints offensively.
“I thought we moved the ball and were unselfish.”
Senior guard Brody Boyd got the Hawkeyes started with the team’s first five points, going 4-of-5 for 14 points in the first half, nailing three three-pointers. His entire production, though, came in the first 16 minutes.
“I tend to do that every now and then,” said the 5-foot-11, native of Dugger, IN. “But we had a good team game out there tonight – everybody contributed. When you do that, you’re going to score a lot of points and we did.”
Iowa had a 53.8 percentage from the field and hit 7-of-10 from the line. UNCA went 26-of-69 from the field and 19-of-28 from the line.
“(Boyd) really got our offense jumpstarted early,” said Alford. “I think that helped settle everyone else down.”
“Brody came out and set the tone early,” said sophomore guard Pierre Pierce. “I know he was lighting up that three-point line, and knocking them down at a high percentage.”
Pierce led the team offensively, setting a personal-record 26 points, with six assists, five rebounds and a blocked shot.
“The thing I like about Pierre is what he does everywhere,” said Alford. “He’s just a very active player.”
Aside from his stunning offensive performance, Pierce was assigned junior forward Bryan McCullough on defense. McCullough is the Bulldogs’ leading scorer from last year.
Pierce held him to just 2-of-15 for eight total points. McCullough had 13 points in his season opener against North Carolina State Friday.
“Pierre’s doing it on both ends, and he’s obviously excited to be playing again,” said Alford.
“Once I got out there, it started to come to me and I tried to get my team-mates involved,” said Pierce. “I think it was just getting that first game out of the way – a little nerves and few butterflies.
“I just tried to let the game come to me and not force something too much,” he added. “I wasn’t expecting to start that well, but I put a lot of work in last year and now it’s starting to pay off.”
But Coach Alford and his squad still seemed to struggle on defense. UNCA had 69 looks at the hoop compared to 65 out of Iowa, and the Hawkeyes gave the Bulldogs nine second-chance points and 15 points off turnovers.
“We gave up too many points,” said Boyd. “You just can’t do that against teams in the Big ten, but that’s what we’re working on. That’s what first games are for.”
“Defensively, we kind of lose concentration,” Alford said. “If we continue to develop into a great team, we’ve got to be able to concentrate through 40 minutes at the defensive end.”
The Hawkeyes have just a day lay-over before taking on former Iowa head coach Tom Davis’s Drake Bulldogs at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday inside Carver.
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com