By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team fought off pesky UMKC to post a 77-63 season-opening victory in a preliminary game of 2K Empire Class Benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project on Thursday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Kangaroos closed an eight-point halftime deficit to 35-33 with 18:12 remaining when head coach Fran McCaffery went to his reserves with a five-player line change. The move provided the Hawkeyes with a spark as Connor McCaffery converted a three-point play to spark an 8-2 spurt as Iowa opened up a 43-35 lead.
“That group came in and really picked us up,” said Fran McCaffery. “I thought the first group came back and did what they were supposed to, so I was proud of that.”
Iowa’s run extended to 19-6, including an 8-0 spurt that included a Jordan Bohannon 3-pointer at the 12:49 mark — his first field goal of the game that made the score 50-38. The Hawkeyes led 54-39 with 11:01 remaining.
“We needed to bring the intensity,” said junior Maishe Dailey. “We felt like we got hit in the mouth in the first half, so we wanted to bring the fight and reciprocate that in the second half.”
Four Hawkeyes reached double figures in the game with freshman Joe Wieskamp leading the team with 15 points. Juniors Tyler Cook and Jordan Bohannon scored 12 points each, while Cook also led the team with eight rebounds and five assists. Dailey added 11 off the bench.
After shooting 32 percent in the first half, the Hawkeyes rebounded to shoot 59.1 percent (13-of-22) in the second half, finishing with a 44.7 (21-of-47) field goal percentage for the game.
UMKC’s Xavier Bishop and Brandon McKissic scored 14 points apiece, but Iowa limited the Roos to a 35.9 field goal percentage for the game.
QUOTING HEAD COACH FRAN MCCAFFERY
“The first half we took 17 3s and eight two-point shots, so I was disappointed in that aspect. I felt like we had an advantage in the post offensively and wanted to exploit that and we were jacking 3s. That said, we had good shooters shooting open 3s and they didn’t go.
“Ultimately, the difference when you look at the stats was 38 free throw attempts. We missed 10 shots and made 28. You have to throw it inside and drive the ball and you can’t settle for 3s when a team is competing and being up in your face.”
WEISKAMP COMES OUT FIRING
Wieskamp scored Iowa’s first points of the season when he hit a 3-pointer from the left corner 16 seconds into the game. The freshman made 4-of-5 3-point field goals in the first half and finished 4-of-6 from 3-point range in the game.
“It was a good start, anytime you make your first shot, you know it’s going to be a good game,” said Wieskamp. “You have to stay confident and aggressive and that’s what I tried to do.”
STAT OF THE GAME
Iowa stayed afloat in the first half by converting 13-of-16 free throws, helping the team build a 34-26 halftime lead. The disparity widened in the second half, as the Hawkeyes made 28-of-38 attempts, taking advantage of 27 fouls whistled against UMKC. The Roos finished 8-of-12 from the line.
- Ten of Cook’s 12 points came in the second half. The forward’s first field goal didn’t come until 8:57 mark in the second half on a put-back layup.
- Iowa finished with six blocks in the game with three coming from Cook.
- The Hawkeyes committed 16 turnovers and had only 15 assists. UMKC had 11 steals in the game.
ON THE HORIZON
Iowa returns to action Sunday, hosting Green Bay at 2:01 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court.