The Iowa Hawkeyes lost Saturday in their first game without leading scorer Piere Pierce who was kicked off the team, and coach Steve Alford says they’ll continue working to find someone to fill the void. Two freshmen, Alex Thompson and Carlton Reed, could eventually fill that role. Alford says both will develop and he says Thompson needs more playing time. Alford says Thompson is better playing along the baseline right now, as physically he’s not ready yet. He says Reed is the same way, as he says Reed looks like Pierce looked when Pierce was a freshman. Iowa is 3-5 in the Big Ten, and the conventional wisdom has been that a team had to finish at .500 to get into the N-C-A-A Tournament. Alford says he’s not gonna set that goal for his team. He says he’s not putting a number on it, as he doesn’t want to put more pressure on this team. He says there have been major conferences where a 7-9 record in conference play has been good enough. He says that’s not something he’s figured out. Alford says they have 12 strong non-conference wins, which should help. He says he just wants the team to finish out the conference schedule strong. He says he knows and can sense that there’s enough pressure on them and he doesn’t want to put more pressure on them. Alford says they have eight regular season games left and then the conference tournament, so they have plenty of games left and they just have to go out and win some. Iowa — which is 15-6 overall — plays at Wisconsin Wednesday.