By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team limited Belmont Abbey to 25 second-half points in a 96-64 exhibition victory Thursday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes led 44-39 at the half following two late 3-pointers from junior Nicholas Baer before putting the clamps on in the second half. Iowa’s defense limited the Crusaders to 27 percent shooting over the final 20 minutes and 35.7 percent for the game.
Iowa opened the second half on a 22-9 run to open an 18-point lead at the 13:34 mark. Hawkeye big men Tyler Cook and Luka Garza had back-to-back three-point plays to make the score 58-45 and back-to-back 3-pointers from Baer and Brady Ellingson pushed the lead to 66-48.
Three Hawkeyes reached double figures — Cook (24), Garza (18), and sophomore Cordell Pemsl (13). Nine of Pemsl’s points came at the free throw line.
Iowa shot 61.3 percent in the second half and 48.6 percent for the game. Iowa out-rebounded Belmont Abbey, 54-38, and assisted on 25 of the team’s 34 field goals.
Iowa’s starting frontcourt of sophomore Tyler Cook and freshman Luka Garza gave the Hawkeyes a strong 1-2 punch. The forwards combined to score Iowa’s first 20 points and they had a combined 42 points in 43 minutes.
“They both know how to play and they’re both unselfish,” said McCaffery. “Their skill sets complement one another.”
Garza tallied a first-half double-double and he finished with 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Five of his 12 rebounds came on the offensive glass. Cook led all scorers with 24 points, making 7-of-12 field goals and 10-of-16 free throws. He had seven rebounds and four assists.
“We gelled as soon as he got here,” said Cook of Garza. “He’s a smart player. He knows what he can do and he’s efficient in everything he does. Playing with him is easy because I know if he’s down there I can space the floor and get it to him because he’s going to score.
“It’s the same with me. We’re both capable of shooting on the outside. It works well together.”
QUOTING IOWA HEAD COACH FRAN MCCAFFERY
On Nicholas Baer coming off bench
“I like him off the bench. He hadn’t been feeling well. Ahmad’s (Wagner) energy level at the start of the game is good and that worked for him last year, that combination. I might keep doing that, we’ll see.”
On second half success
“We ran the fast break better in the second half, we mixed our in-and-out better in second half. We got a lot of good play from a lot of different people.”
Sophomore Isaiah Moss did not suit up for the Hawkeyes against the Crusaders, nursing a foot/ankle injury. Moss played sparingly in the first half of the exhibition opener against William Jewell before shutting it down for the second half.
“He isn’t ready yet,” said McCaffery. “I don’t think it will be much longer. He wasn’t ready to go tonight.”
STAT OF THE GAME
The Hawkeyes finished with 18 offensive rebounds and they capitalized, turning them into 23 second-chance points. Iowa had a 23-3 advantage over Belmont Abbey in the game.
- The Hawkeye reserves scores 43 points and 48 of Iowa’s points came in the paint.
- Iowa made just 6-of-22 3-point field goals and went 22-of-35 from the free throw stripe.
- The Hawkeyes committed just seven turnovers in the game. Iowa had a 12-3 advantage in points off turnovers.
Iowa opens the regular season Nov. 10, hosting Chicago State at 8 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It is the nightcap of an Iowa women’s and men’s basketball doubleheader.