What makes Iowa a No. 1 seed in its quadrant of the NIT? The Hawkeyes (19-14), who host TCU (20-15) in Sunday’s second-round matchup (4 p.m., ESPN2), have won four games this season against opponents ranked in the Top 25 on game day, including an 83-78 victory over Purdue, the Big Ten champion, on Jan. 12.
TCU, by comparison, has defeated only one opponent that was ranked nationally on game day. But it was a doozy: an 85-82 triumph over top-ranked Kansas, the Big 12 champion, in the conference tournament.
Beyond the difference in victories over Top 25 opponents, both teams have similar resumes and lean on lots of young players. Three of Iowa’s top four scorers are freshmen: forward Tyler Cook (12.1 average), guard Jordan Bohannon (10.5) and forward Cordell Pemsl (9.0). TCU’s top six scorers are underclassmen expected to return next season, including freshman guards Jaylen Fisher (9.9) and Desmond Bane (6.8).
Iowa does have a senior, go-to scoring option at the end of games that TCU lacks. Peter Jok, a 6-foot-6 guard/forward, averages a team-high 19.8 points per game and makes 91.6 percent of his free throws. He also contributes 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per contest.
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TCU men’s basketball coach Jamie Dixon says Jok is a unique talent and a big concern heading into Sunday’s matchup.
“They’ve got a very experienced senior in Jok,” Dixon said. “He’s a scoring guard (or) a scoring wing … Jok can put it on the floor. He can shoot the mid-range jumper. He runs off screens well. He can shoot the ball from 3-point range. If you’re averaging 20 points a game in the Big Ten, you’ve got to score in a variety of ways. And he does that. But his free throws are what really stand out. We’ve got to keep him off the foul line.”
In regard to the team overall, Dixon said: “They’re a very good offensive team. They really push the ball, make or miss, and play a variety of defenses. Nothing we haven’t seen. But there’s a lot of motion offense and a lot of depth. They play a lot of guys and they’ve been playing well lately.”