Iowa has yet to be seriously tested during the young season and will take aim at a 3-0 start when it hosts Grambling State on Thursday. With five players averaging at least 10 points, the Hawkeyes have put up more than 90 in back-to-back games out of the chute, shooting 45.1 percent from 3-point range.
“I think as a team, we stretch the floor, and so that leaves a lot of gaps for us,” freshman forward Jack Nunge told reporters after Sunday’s 92-58 win over Alabama State. “We have a lot of shooters on this team, and we also have a lot of bigs. Everybody’s pretty good at finishing, so I think whenever we get the opportunities and get the open shots, we just know we’re going to knock them down.” Freshman Luka Garza leads Iowa in scoring (13.5 points per game), rebounding (9.0) and blocks (2.5) while playing just 18.5 minutes per contest. Ten different Hawkeyes have played at least 30 minutes through the first two games as the consecutive blowouts have given coach Fran McCaffery a great opportunity to get everyone involved. He might have another chance to go deep into the bench against the Tigers, who were trounced 94-65 at VCU in their opener.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network Plus
ABOUT GRAMBLING STATE (0-1): Senior Diontae Jones came off the bench to set career highs with 16 points and eight rebounds in the loss to the Rams on Friday. Transfer Shirmane Thomas added 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting but the rest of the starters for the Tigers were a combined 6-for-21 from the floor. The loss came in the debut for new coach Donte’ Jackson, whose team plays its first seven games on the road and will not host a Division I team until Jan. 1.
ABOUT IOWA (2-0): Six of Garza’s 18 rebounds have come on the offensive end and the 6-11 standout is showing great instincts early in his collegiate career. “He’s got that uncanny ability to know exactly where the ball’s coming off; he’s always where the ball is,” McCaffery told the media. “The ball seems to find him. He’s always where the ball is. Great instincts, long arms, physical, tough, relentless - all the qualities you want in an offensive rebounder.” Guard Jordan Bohannon leads the Hawkeyes with six assists per game and Nunge has recorded seven of the team’s 17 steals.
1. Iowa is shooting just 55.9 percent from the foul line.
2. Hawkeyes G Brady Ellingson has made 3-of-5 from 3-point range in each of the first two games.
3. Iowa won the only prior meeting between the teams in 1996.
PREDICTION: Iowa 88, Grambling State 64