At one point this season, it was said that the Hawkeyes would have had a perfect record had games gone 35 minutes, as opposed to the regulation 40. Tonight in Dayton, in the last of the First Four contests to begin the NCAA Tournament, Iowa would have won had the game been a ten-minute affair.
With so much emotion swirling the Hawkeye locker-room, Iowa asserted themselves early, going on an 8-0 run to begin the contest in the first four minutes, forcing a Tennessee timeout and a cheer from the partisan Iowa crowd in attendance.
The lead ballooned to twelve before Tennessee could steady their wobbly sea legs, and with a Josh Oglesby 3-pointer, the Hawkeyes—appearing in the Big Dance for the first time since 2006—found themselves up 16-4 ten minutes into the ballgame. Iowa seemed to locate their potent transition offense, along with a newfound commitment on the defensive end that swallowed the Volunteers’ early misses.
Of the Iowa starters, Adam Woodbury had a monster evening, with 16 points and eight rebounds, playing with the assertiveness that Iowa fans have been begging for much of the season. The bench was also outstanding in this one, keeping Iowa in the game with early foul trouble afflicting a couple of the Hawkeye forwards. Peter Jok, playing the most minutes he’s had since December, led the bench scoring with ten points on 4-5 shooting.
Aside from Woodbury, the ineffectiveness of the rest of the Hawkeye starters was glaring throughout, as 7 points from Marble and Aaron White each accounted for the 14 points allotted to the rest of the Iowa starting five. Devyn Marble, in what turned out to be his final game in the Black and Gold was mostly ineffective, shooting 3-15 on the night and not scoring his first basket until four minutes remained in the first half.
Yet surprisingly without much from their leading scorer, Iowa led for most of the game. The Hawkeyes led by three at halftime and played a back-and-forth second half. The closeness between teams carried into the game’s final seconds, as a Devyn Marble jump shot with 18 seconds to go tied the game at 64, and sent the game to overtime.
The extra session was all Tennessee. The Hawkeyes struggled to hold onto the ball and were unable to utilize second chance opportunities. Tennessee outscored the Hawkeyes 14-1 in the period, with the lone free throw coming from Aaron White. With everyone at Iowa’s disposal, they were seemingly thrown around in the extra five minutes, as the strength of the Volunteers’ interior won out on multiple occasions.
When the horn sounded, nothing but blank stares and looks of disbelief were on the faces of the Hawkeyes. Unable to quiet the critics or salvage their sinking ship, the quest concluded tonight in Dayton, Ohio. The game against Tennessee was, in a nutshell, the story of this incarnation of the Iowa Hawkeyes; a roaring start followed by inconsistent play and concluding by being completely overwhelmed.