Length played a huge factor for Iowa on both the offensive and defensive side of the floor in its 83-52 win over Davidson.
SEATTLE — A nauseating number of questions about Davidson’s shooting were directed toward Iowa players prior to its matchup with the Wildcats in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
But after Iowa throttled the Wildcats, 83-52, and held them to their second-worst shooting percentage from beyond the 3-point arc of the season, maybe the better question would have been how Davidson would handle Iowa’s length?
Friday night answered that question, and it wasn’t pretty for Davidson.
“It seemed like every shot we took, every pass we made, there was length there,” Davidson head coach Bob McKillop said after the game.
“I’ve never seen our guys as tentative, as hesitant as they were. We moved the ball around the arc a lot and did not go inside out. We didn’t attack and deflate with dribble penetration, which is normally a staple of what we do to get our shooters open. I think that was the hesitancy we had, because of the length.”
Iowa didn’t just contain Davidson’s 3-point threat; it utterly took it away.
The Wildcats made just 6 of its 28 attempts from 3-point range. The 21.4 percent clip from beyond the arc is a far cry from its season average of 39.7 percent. And although Davidson boasted four players who shot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc coming into the game, just one player did against Iowa — Brian Sullivan made 2-of-5 attempts.
Some of this could be attributed to Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Tyler Kalinoski, who picked up his third foul with 8:20 left in the first half, but most of the credit goes to the Hawkeyes.
Aaron White said that they watched so much film on Davidson this week that the team grew sick of it.
They knew nearly every player’s tendencies, knew how they would defend it, and it showed on the court.
“I thought we did a really good job contesting the 3-point line,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “It’s not easy against this team because they have 3-point shooters who can also drive one through four. So, our length disrupted their ability to get comfortable 3s.”
The effect that Iowa’s length played on the defensive end of the floor was really only half of the story. Iowa’s length also led to the Hawkeyes posting 83 points on Davidson.
Arguably the most traditional “length” player is White, and he had a field day.
At one point, he scored 13-straight points for Iowa, increasing a once 9-point lead to a 21-point lead.
He did it all, too. If Davidson put one of its rare bigger bodies on him, White would bring him out to the perimeter and either take him off the dribble or shoot from the perimeter. Faced with a smaller defender, White posted up and finished around the basket.
“Looking at the roster size before the game I knew I had a size advantage to whoever I was guarding,” White said. “I got to give credit to my teammates, also Coach McCaffery, for running a lot of stuff for me to get me in position to score. But there’s a stretch there where I was just feeling confident, feeling good with my shot, with my hook shot, and I was finishing around the basket.
It wasn’t just White, though.
Adam Woodbury nearly finished with a double-double, posting 8 points and 8 rebounds. While Jarrod Uthoff struggled from the field, he successfully guarded Kalinoski for most of the game and finished with 9 rebounds. And Gabe Olaseni finished with 6 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Iowa as a team outrebounded the Wildcats, 46-30, which ties for the Hawkeyes’ biggest rebounding margin of the season. And 14 of those rebounds were on offense, which led to 13 second-chance points for Iowa.
“We had to use our length to our advantage,” Woodbury said. “That’s one of the strengths of our team. Jarrod and Whitey got great matchups on the block. They really had no answer for them.”
Even as Iowa’s offense produced, the defense shone bright, which is probably how Iowa would prefer it.
Each stop fed the Hawkeyes offense, and as a result, the Hawkeyes will have a chance to advance to the Sweet 16 on March 22.
They can credit their length, among a myriad of other factors, for that opportunity.
“A team like this that constantly is in motion, constantly cutting, four, five, 3-point shooters on the floor at once, you got to be locked in each and every possession,” White said. “Credit to us, we were able to do that.”