SPORTS

Hlas: Each had fab frosh, but Hawkeyes too green for Seton Hall

Pirates had too much for young Iowa squad

IOWA CITY — After using and abusing Kennesaw State and Savannah State in its first two games here, Iowa hosted someone that wasn’t from Division I basketball’s witness protection program.

But the fans, perhaps forgetting New Jersey’s Seton Hall was an actual team from an actual conference (the Big East, with a team you may recall named Villanova), mostly stayed home Thursday night rather than trekking to Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

There were 10,391 tickets sold. There were not 10,391 attendees. It was an 8 p.m. weeknight game, you know. They’re all right for television, not so good in the real world.

Those who did show up didn’t get the result they desired, since the Pirates of South Orange defeated the Hawkeyes, 91-83. But at least they were entertained, or should have felt they were.

This game had two teams with veteran, NCAA tourney-tested guards who can take over games and did at various stages Thursday. They were Khadeen Carrington of Seton Hall and Iowa’s Peter Jok.

Carrington had 20 points and his point guard play was the best to be seen here this night. Jok had a career-high 30 points, half of it between the 10:04 and 4:12 marks of the second half as he tried to keep his team in the game.

So that was fun. But in the Here’s Something You Haven’t Seen Here Every Year Department, both teams rolled out freshmen who were four-star recruits. Both played like it.

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Iowa’s 6-foot-9 Tyler Cook saved the best of his three college games to date for the brand-name competition. He had 24 points in 32 minutes, getting his first five points on jumpers, then doing all sorts of work inside.

Once, Cook drove down the lane, did a quick spin to his left, and left Seton Hall’s 6-10 Angel Delgado in the dust as he threw down a left-handed jam.

Free throws weren’t so friendly. Cook made just 5 of 12. It didn’t look like he was fundamentally flummoxed, he just didn’t shoot them very well.

“He’s got a nice stroke,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “I feel like they’re going in.”

Rare will be the game this season in which Cook isn’t the primo freshman. But he wasn’t this game.

Seton Hall’s 6-2 Myles Powell of Trenton put the Pirates on his back late in the game, scoring the last eight of his 26 points in a 1:40 stretch after Jok’s 3-pointer with 4:12 left cut Seton Hall’s lead to 77-72.

Powell didn’t start, and wasn’t on the floor when Iowa jetted to a 7-0 lead behind five Cook points. But when he played, oh how he played. He made 9 of 14 shots and repeatedly beat Hawkeye defenders off the dribble.

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Iowa had the home-court advantage, but it couldn’t overcome the Pirates’ whopping experience advantage.

Those guys won 25 games last year and returned four starters. Forward Desi Rodriguez (25 points of his own) worked over the Hawkeyes’ younger players, and the Hawkeyes’ inexperienced point guards paled compared to what Carrington gave the Pirates.

While Seton Hall is a fairly finished product, Iowa is just getting started. Senior Jok is surrounded by a bunch of sophomores and freshmen.

“The truth of the matter is we had a pretty experienced team out there,” McCaffery said. “Everyone wants to talk about youth. That was a pretty experienced team out there that did not defend.”

The seven guys he went with in the second half were Jok and six guys who either came off the bench last season or were in high school.

Some nights, this thing will click. Others, it will clunk, like Thursday’s second half when Seton Hall got a pile of easy baskets in shooting 65.5 percent.

“A lot of work to be done, yeah,” McCaffery said.

“Team shoots 66 percent, there’s a lot going on there.”

Still, for those who like basketball, Thursday’s game was a lot better than standard November fare.

For those who just like victories, relax. Something called the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley plays the Hawkeyes here Sunday.

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The Vaqueros are 0-3, lost to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi by 22 points Wednesday, and won’t be bringing any four-star recruits here.

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