By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Jordan Bohannon and Luka Garza posted double-doubles and five Hawkeyes landed in double figures to lead the University of Iowa men’s basketball team to a much-needed, 85-67, victory over Wisconsin on Tuesday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa led from start-to-finish, shooting 51.7 percent from the field to notch its second Big Ten victory of the season. The Hawkeyes even their record at 11-11 overall and are 2-7 in league action.
“We needed this,” said Garza, who posted his team-leading fourth double-double of the season, finishing with 17 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. “We have a group of guys that are determined in the locker room and we weren’t going to walk out of here with a loss.”
Iowa started the game strong, jumping out to a 9-0 lead to force an early Badger timeout and the lead grew to 18-6 courtesy of a Garza layup with 12:13 to play. Wisconsin missed all but three of its first 17 shots.
The tide turned for Wisconsin, as it made six straight and 7-of-8 field goals to trim the deficit to 31-27, but Iowa scored the final five points of the half — all by Isaiah Moss — to give the Hawkeyes all of the momentum.
“That was critical,” said Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery, who notched win No. 399 on Tuesday. “Isaiah got the big 3 and bucket at the buzzer. When you have a lead and the other team comes, you know Wisconsin is going to come back, what happens then?
“Do you soften defensively? We have done that in games. The reason it went from four to nine is because we got stops.”
Wisconsin got to within single digits just once in the second half — at 41-32 at the 17:45 mark — but Iowa kept its foot on the gas. The Hawkeyes pushed their lead to 19 on a Tyler Cook three-point play with more than 14 minutes remaining and Iowa led by as many as 22 on two occasions.
Cook shared the team lead with 17 points, making 8-of-13 field goals. Moss scored 15, Bohannon had 13 points and 11 assists, and Cordell Pemsl scored 11 with seven coming at the free throw line.
“(Tyler) had a monster game and we really went to him at the start of the second half,” said McCaffery. “He’s a big reason why we got the lead we got. He was aggressive with his offensive mindset throughout the game. He had 17 and he only played 24 minutes.”
Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ led all scorers with 21 points, making 8-of-14 field goals, and pulled down 10 rebounds for the double-double. The Badgers shot 40 percent from the field and went 4-of-18 from 3-point range.
ACTIVE DEFENSE; GARZA GOES TOE-TO-TOE WITH HAPP
The Hawkeyes limited Wisconsin to a 40 percent field goal percentage — the lowest by a Big Ten opponent this season and the lowest since Southern Utah on Dec. 19.
Garza was given the task of matching up with Happ — a point forward, who is Mr. Everything for Wisconsin. Iowa’s freshman made it hard on Happ, who finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds, but he committed four turnovers before fouling out.
“Luka was great,” said McCaffery. “He moved his feet, got his hands up, and used his length. He took advantage of his physicality; he’s a hard guy to score over. Luka slid his feet well and made it hard on (Happ).
“We were locked into what he wanted to do,” said Garza. “He’s a great player and is relentless. It was a tough cover, but I needed to match his intensity and it worked well for me.”
YOU PLAY, YOU SCORE
The Hawkeyes rotation was limited to nine players — Ryan Kriener and Brady Ellingson missed the game with concussions — but all nine contributed and scored. Iowa shared the load with five players reaching double figures.
- Iowa out-rebounded the Badgers, 41-32, including 10 offensive rebounds. The Hawkeyes had a 12-6 advantage in second-chance points.
- The Hawkeyes had 20 assists on their 31 field goals and committed just 11 turnovers.
- Iowa’s 18-point victory over Wisconsin is its largest margin of victory since beating the Badgers by 25 points (78-53) on Jan. 11, 1997.
- Bohannon registered his fifth career double-double in points and assists (13 points and 11 assists). His five career games with 10 or more assists ties B.J. Armstrong and Mike Gesell for second-most in program history (Cal Wulfsberg, 6).
- Iowa improved to 11-1 this season when scoring 80 points or more.
The Hawkeyes return to action Saturday, traveling to Lincoln for a 7 p.m. (CT) matchup at Nebraska.
“If you want to win in this league, this is how you have to play,” said McCaffery. “You can’t play like we did (against Purdue) and win in this league. It’s that simple because we have a great team coming up on Saturday in Nebraska. If you play this way, you have a chance to win; if you don’t you’re going to get beat.”