By RICK BROWN
NICEVILLE, Fla. — No. 7 Virginia’s suffocating defense was too much for the University of Iowa’s men’s basketball team to overcome in the opening round of the Emerald Coast Classic on Friday.
The Cavaliers limited Iowa to 31.3-percent shooting from the field in a 74-41 victory. Virginia’s defense was no surprise. Head coach Tony Bennett’s team entered the game leading the nation in scoring defense, at 38.8 points a game, and was second nationally in field goal percentage defense at 28.9 percent. Iowa was sixth nationally in scoring at 96.3 points, but struggled to put points on the board Friday while falling to 3-2.
“I think it’s a combination of things,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said of Virginia’s defensive effort. “I think they really compete. They are a great example of five guys playing as one. They’re in the gaps, fighting the post, they close on penetration, their closeouts are really good. They get back and don’t give up a lot in transition. There’s a lot of things.”
Virginia started the game on an 11-2 run, took a 39-19 lead into halftime while improving to 5-0.
Peter Jok led the Hawkeyes with 13 points. He made just 5-of-14 shots from the field, including three 3-pointers in eight attempts. Dom Uhl added nine points. Jok and Uhl made nine of Iowa’s 15 field goals.
“They play really good team defense,” Jok said. “I had some good looks. I’ve got to make them.”
McCaffery didn’t like his team’s patience against Virginia’s defense.
“I don’t think we had trouble, we just shot it too quick,” McCaffery said.
Iowa had 18 turnovers to just eight assists. Virginia turned it over just five times and had 18 assists. The Cavaliers had four players score in double figures, led by Jarred Reuter’s 14.
This was Virginia’s first victory over Iowa in three attempts. Iowa beat the Cavaliers in the first round of the 1997 NCAA Tournament, 73-60. Iowa also won at Virginia in the quarterfinals of the 2013 NIT, 75-64.
The Hawkeyes will play either Memphis at 3 p.m. (CT) on Saturday. The game won’t be televised, but will be streamed for free (click HERE). The Hawkeye Radio Network will also carry the game.