No. 24 Iowa returns to work against Bryant

No. 24 Iowa closes out the nonconference portion of its schedule on Saturday when the Bryant Bulldogs invade Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Iowa (10-2) has had a week off since demolishing Savannah State 110-64. In Bryant, the Hawkeyes face a team that is 3-7 and scores less than 68 points per game.

The challenging news is that Bryant takes care of the ball, ranking 14th in the country in fewest turnovers per game (12.4).

On the other hand, the Bulldogs are last nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.455).

But the Bulldogs come to Iowa with a bit of momentum, having posted a 68-67 win over Dartmouth on Dec. 21. The Bulldogs rallied from a 15-point deficit and won on SaBastian Townes' 3-pointer with 18 seconds remaining.

"We still have a long way to go, but we're moving forward," Bryant first-year coach Jared Grasso said. "That's all I can ask for right now. Today was about competing and fighting and being gritty."

Iowa will be a good measuring stick, but for at least one day, the Bulldogs coach was happy with how hard his team played.

Joe Kasperzyk scored a career-high 19 points and was named Northeastern Conference Co-Rookie of the Week for his efforts.

"He played like the Joe Kasperzyk I recruited," Grasso said of the freshman guard. "Aggressive going to the rim, guarded the ball and played with that swagger that we talk about."

Kasperzyk is a nice complement to the three Bulldogs who average in double figures. Adam Grant (15.8), Byron Hawkins (14.3) and SaBastian Townes (13.9) lead the way on offense.

Entering play on Saturday, Iowa comes in having won 58 of its last 62 nonconference home games dating to 2012.

The Hawkeyes have won four in a row and during the streak four Hawkeyes are averaging double figures.

Tyler Cook leads the way with 19.3 points per game. Joe Wieskamp follows at 12.8 and Isaiah Moss and Luka Garza are each scoring a clip of 12.0 per game.

The starters will be well-rested as second-teamers and the end of the bench saw plenty of action against Savannah State.

"It was nice to see the young guys come in at the end of the game," Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon said. "The walk-ons got a lot of reps. It was good for them to come in the game and get their feet under them. They did a good job when they got in there."

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery liked what he saw from this backups.

"We have tremendous respect as a program for (the walk-ons) and the job they do in preparing us for the scout team," McCaffery said. "They take great pride in it and they're great people. It's a great feeling as a coach to see (the bench) react the way they did."

If there is major question about Iowa this season, it has been about the team's depth. A few players have had minor injuries, which have allowed the backups to shine. It's also not a bad idea to give as many of these players as much experience as possible.

Conner McCaffery is expected to play after missing the game against Savannah State because of concussion symptoms. Iowa is 13-2 in games he has played since last season.

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