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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The top-seeded University of Iowa men’s basketball team pulled away from South Dakota in the second half to post an 87-75 National Invitation Tournament victory Wednesday night in front of a crowd of 12,864 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“This was a big win for us,” said redshirt freshman Isaiah Moss. “We followed the game plan and got the win. The crowd was great tonight; we couldn’t have done it without them.”
The Hawkeyes (19-14) advance to host fourth-seeded TCU on Sunday on Mediacom Court at 6:30 p.m. (CT). The Horned Frogs defeated Fresno State, 66-59, Wednesday in Fort Worth, Texas.
Iowa led 42-38 at the break following a back-and-forth first half before taking control in the first four minutes of the second half. The Hawkeyes used a 13-4 run, using Jordan Bohannon and Peter Jok 3-pointers to open a 51-42 lead.
Jok overcame foul trouble to lead Iowa with 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting and a triumvirate of freshmen accounted for 53 points.
Freshman Jordan Bohannon posted his second straight double-double, finishing with 19 points and 11 assists. Freshman Tyler Cook went 8-for-8 from the field en route to 18 points (and he collected eight rebounds), and Isaiah Moss scored 16 points — 12 coming in the first half.
“I go to those guys because they produce,” said McCaffery. “I don’t consider them freshmen any more. Those guys have been through a lot.”
The Hawkeyes shot 54.8 percent from the field and made 10 3-pointers (in 23 attempts). Iowa won the rebounding battle, 37-30, and assisted on 21 of its 35 field goals.
South Dakota, The Summit League regular season champion, didn’t go away, closing the gap to 53-50 on a Tyler Flack dunk with 13:05 remaining. The margin was three (55-52) until the Hawkeyes used a 13-4 run over a four-minute span to open a double-digit lead.
Bohannon scored seven points during the stretch, and sophomore Ahmad Wagner made two lay-ups, including a field goal at the 7:27 mark that gave the Hawkeyes a 68-54 lead. Iowa led by as many as 15 points down the stretch.
“Ahmad gave us energy right when we needed it,” said McCaffery. “He got on the glass defensively, made a couple of baskets, and the transition basket was huge… it got the crowd going. When he’s playing like that, we’re a lot better.”
South Dakota’s trapping defense kept it in the game in the first half. The Hawkeyes committed 10 turnovers over the first 20 minutes.
The Coyotes led 26-25 with 4:53 remaining before Moss went wild. The guard made three 3-pointers in 2:18 stretch to give Iowa a 38-32 lead. Cook’s tip-in at the buzzer made the score 42-38 at the break.
“I have been trying to be aggressive offensively and defensively,” said Moss. “Once I knew I was hot after the second shot went up, I kept shooting it.”
The Coyotes shot 42.4 percent for the game and went 7-of-17 from 3-point range. South Dakota went 18-of-25 from the free throw line (Iowa was 7-of-15) and scored 16 points off Iowa’s 16 turnovers.
Matt Mooney led all scorers with 23 points, making 8-of-19 field goals and 5-of-10 3-pointers. Former Hawkeye Trey Dickerson scored 10 points — all coming in the first half.
Iowa men’s basketball season ticket holders and I-Club members may sign into their accounts now to purchase tickets Sunday’s game against TCU. The presale ends Thursday at noon; general public tickets will go on sale at 1 p.m. (CT).
“I want to thank the fans for showing up the way they did tonight,” said McCaffery. “It had a great impact on our energy level and our ability to keep coming. It was an unbelievable atmosphere tonight and we are thankful.”