Iowa led by as many as 38 points in the second half. The Hawkeyes dominated the game in all facets, shooting 52.5 percent from the field, 56.3 percent (9-for-16) from three-point range and 81.8 percent (18-for-22) from the line. Iowa outrebounded UTEP 46-24 and whipped the Miners in all five specialty stats categories – points in the paint (35-24), points off turnovers (14-2), second chance points (14-7), fast break points (15-2) and bench points (48-24).
“Iowa played terrific,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “They had 22 assists on 31 baskets. The ball moved. They passed very well. They didn’t turn it over. They shot it well. But they really guarded us. They really defensive rebounded. Our inadequacies were obvious to even the casual basketball observer in that we just didn’t get back on defense.
“When you shoot the kind of percentage they shot, you’re shooting open shots, layups, uncontested shots and rebound putback baskets. And we have deficiencies in rebounding the ball. I think we have been outrebounded by 45 boards [actually 40] the last two nights. We got nothing easy because we took the ball out of the net all night long. They scored it, we had to inbound it and play against a set defense. And I thought their defense was outstanding.”
Nothing went right for the Miners. UTEP shot 34.6 percent from the field and misfired on 17 of 22 three point tries. The Miners were 2-for-9 from the foul line in the first half, finishing 12-of-21. Julian Washburn was UTEP’s only double figure scorer, but he shot 4-of-14 from the field. Thirteen players got in the game, but the Miners were never able to get anything going on either end of the floor.
The Miners had to scrap a triangle and two defense which was so effective against Tennessee on Thursday night.
“I think we were in it for two possessions,” Floyd said. “It was obvious that their attack was good in it. We just said to hell with that. Of course, we said that with a lot of defenses we had out there today.”
The stage was set for a long night very early on. Three of Iowa’s first five field goals were dunks. Another was a layup.
“I just thought they went at us,” Floyd said. “We were on our heels. They were coming at us in conversion and transition. We could not keep in front of them. And really, five guys without the ball should be able to get down the floor quicker than five guys with the ball. We couldn’t do it. We couldn’t do it when we made a basket. They went at us. They are a very well coached team, a very good team.”
Aaron White led Iowa with 17 points. Peter Jok and Zach McCabe added 14, both off the bench. Roy Devyn Marble, who scored 30 points in an overtime win over Xavier Thursday, took only six shots and scored seven points. The Hawkeyes didn’t need him on this night.
The Miners will regroup and get ready to play in the tournament’s third place game against Kansas on Saturday at 5 p.m. MT. NBC Sports Network will televise the game to a national audience.