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By RICK BROWN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Tyler Cook, dressed in sweat clothes, started his sophomore season Sunday night by getting shots up in the University of Iowa’s practice gym.
His mission to improve on a season that earned him a spot on the All-Big Ten freshman team, was already under way.
Cook had good and bad moments earlier Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. He scored 16 points, including a basket with 11 seconds remaining in regulation that forced overtime. He was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field, giving him 18 consecutive made field goals going back to the second half of the Indiana game in the Big Ten Tournament on March 9.
But he also had seven turnovers and missed 3-of-5 free throw attempts in a 94-92 overtime loss to TCU in a second-round NIT game at sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“I’m a big fan of Kobe (Bryant),” said the 6-foot-9 forward. “One thing he preaches when things don’t go your way is to just lock yourself in a gym and change the outcome. That’s what I’m doing (Sunday night).”
It was turnovers and free throws that cost the Hawkeyes on Sunday. Iowa had 12 first-half turnovers, leading to 21 TCU points. The Hawkeyes missed 10-of-17 free-throw attempts the second half, and 11 for the game. That created too high a mountain to climb for a team that shot 54 percent from the field and made 16 3-pointers in 30 attempts.
“There are so many things to be proud of with this team all year long, but particularly this game,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “We make 16 3s. You make 16 3s, you out-rebound your opponent, shooting 54 percent, you’re supposed to win. But they got 21 points off those turnovers in the first half and we missed 11 free throws. That just completely changed the game.”
Freshman point guard Jordan Bohannon led Iowa with 25 points and 13 assists, both career highs. The 13 assists were the most for a Hawkeye player in postseason play. The member of the All-Big Ten freshman team ended the year with three straight double-doubles and had 34 assists in those games.
Sophomore forward Nicholas Baer also had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. And he blocked three shots.
The loss ended Iowa’s season at 19-15. And it closed the book on the career of All-Big Ten guard Peter Jok. The Big Ten’s leading scorer averaged 19.9 points a game. He also moved to 15th on the program’s career scoring list with 1,508 points. Jok finished fourth all-time at Iowa in career 3-pointers with 216.
“It’s been a long journey for me the last four years,” Jok said. “The main thing I think I did most is mature from freshman year to where I am now. I’m two different people.”
As Jok walked off the floor for the last time, he raised his hands to the crowd.
“I was mad we lost,” Jok said. “At the same time I wanted to thank all the fans. To sell out an NIT game…the fans really supported us the last two games.”
Iowa trailed at halftime, 44-40, to a Horned Frog team that advanced with a 21-15 record. The deficit grew as large as 11 points twice the second half, the last time at 75-64 with 9-minutes, 22-seconds remaining.
But Iowa rallied to take an 82-81 lead on a Cook basket with 1:41 left in regulation.
Baer was called for a Flagrant 1 foul on TCU’s Desmond Bane with 50 seconds to play. Bane made the second of two free throws to tie the game. The Horned Frogs also got possession of the ball, and Vlad Brodziansky scored to put his team in front at the :26 mark. Cook tied it, 84-84, on Iowa’s next possession to force overtime.
The Hawkeyes never got the lead in the extra session, but had a chance to force a second overtime on their last possession. But Cordell Pemsl’s jumper hit the front of the rim as time expired.
“I knew we didn’t have much time,” Pemsl said. “I got a look, one I’m capable of making.”
Pemsl was one of four freshmen to score at least 20 points in a game this season, along with Bohannon, Isaiah Moss, and Cook. Five rookies scored in double figures in a game, when you add Ryan Kriener to the list. Those five freshmen combined for 61 double-figure games offensively.
“I’m proud of them, I love them and we have to get back to work,” McCaffery said. “We’re not going to take any time. We’re going to get back in the gym. We have an opportunity to have a really good team, but the only way that’s going to happen is if we keep fighting and keep working, and it starts immediately.”
Sunday night, Cook got a head start.