IOWA CITY, Iowa — Senior guard Brody Boyd opened with a quick three-pointer and scored a team-high 15 points Tuesday as Iowa walked over the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, 82-56, inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes open the season with a 4-0 record for the first time since 2001 with the predictable win, while Green Bay falls to 1-3 on the season.
The sluggish victory highlighted a strong offensive game in the first half and a lackadaisical second half as Iowa merely had to protect a 46-25 halftime lead.
“I think a lot of that is college basketball,” Coach Steve Alford said. “You’ve controlled it throughout and that’s probably the hardest thing to do.”
“It was kind of ragtag there for a while, but I guess we played well enough to win again,” said senior center Jared Reiner. “They got a couple of loose balls at the beginning of the second half, and they kind of outplayed us and outscored us, but then we got back into it and played our game.”
Boyd’s three-pointer set off a 17-3 opening run for the Hawkeyes. In the first half, Iowa made 16-of-28 for a 57.1 percentage from the field. Thanks to three three-pointers by the Dugger, IN.-native, the Hawkeyes had 66.7 percent when it came to the long shots.
“We always talk about the first four minutes of every game,” said Boyd. “When you get up to a 17-3 lead, that’s huge and you’re off to a good run.”
But the energy quickly subsided as Iowa was caught up by 11 turnovers, mainly off of arrant passes. For the game, the Hawkeyes had 21 turnovers to just 13 by the Phoenix.
“The glaring weakness is that we get careless and don’t value the ball,” said Alford. “That’s what we have to continue to work on.”
After halftime, the energy drain continued and any momentum Iowa had quickly faded as its lead dropped to 14, after a three-minute period of complete offensive inactivity on both sides.
In the second half, the Hawkeyes made 11-of-31 for 36 points, still outscoring Green Bay though by five. Indeed, despite the sub-par offensive play by Iowa, its defense never let go of the commanding lead.
The Hawkeyes had 38 defensive rebounds and allowed just 11 second-chance points for the game. The Phoenix also couldn’t capitalize on the Iowa turnovers, managing just 10 points. Green Bay never exceeded 31 percent from the field.
“What I really appreciated was our guys’ effort on the defensive end,” said Alford. “Right from the beginning we had a 17-3 run, and I don’t think we ever game them the opportunities to even smell staying in the game, and that had to do with our defense.
“From a defensive end, I thought we made it very difficult for them to score points. Anytime you can hold a team to fewer field goals than free throws, you’re doing some good things.”
Iowa has two days off before hosting the Gazette Hawkeye Challenge on Friday. The Hawkeyes take on Eastern Washington at 8:11 p.m. The Challenge is the highlight of a “tough” four-game stretch for Iowa, as they face Northern Iowa on Dec. 9, before a near-two-week break for finals.
“We have a lot of games, and we have academics on top of that,” said Boyd. “It’s going to be rough, this is the grind and we’re going to get after it and see what happens.”
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com