By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Six Hawkeyes landed in double figures as the University of Iowa men’s basketball pulled away midway through the second half to post a 93-82 victory over Green Bay on Sunday afternoon in a preliminary game of the 2K Empire Classic on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Senior Nicholas Baer’s 3-pointer at the 13:17 mark broke a 59-all tie and it ignited a Hawkeye run that moved Iowa to 2-0 heading to New York.
Sophomore Luka Garza connected on a hook shot to push the lead to 68-63 before junior Tyler Cook scored the team’s next five points, including a thunderous dunk (and one) over Green Bay’s Cody Schwartz to give Iowa a 74-65 lead with 7:06 to play.
After the Phoenix closed the gap to 74-70, Cook made two free throws and Jordan Bohannon’s three-point play pushed the lead to 79-70. Iowa’s advantage stretched to double figures for the first time on Bohannon’s 3-pointer from the left corner, giving the Hawkeyes an 84-73 lead.
Iowa’s inside duo of Cook and Garza propelled the Hawkeyes to the victory. Cook scored 17 points, making 4-of-6 field goals and 9-of-11 free throws and he grabbed six rebounds. Garza finished with 17, making 8-of-12 field goals and grabbing five boards.
“We grinded it out in the end and kept getting (the ball) inside,” said Garza. “Early on we were getting it to me inside then we were starting to get it to TC (Cook) because we knew we had the advantage there and they couldn’t stop us down low.
“The guards did a good job of feeding us and we did a good job when they started feeding us, kicking it out. It was a good game.”
Bohannon scored 13 points — all in the second half — making 4-of-8 field goals (three 3-pointers). Baer scored 12 points off the bench, including a block and coast-to-coast dunk in the first half, redshirt freshman Connor McCaffery scored a career-high 11 points, and freshman Joe Wieskamp added 10 points and had a team-high seven rebounds.
The Hawkeyes shot 50.9 percent (27-ofo-53) from the field, but went just 5-of-18 (27.8) from 3-point range. Iowa out-rebounded Green Bay, 38-32 and had a 19-11 advantage in fast break points.
Green Bay shot 46.4 percent (32-of-69) from the floor, including a 7-of-26 effort from 3-point range. The Phoenix committed 20 turnovers.
“We did a pretty good job defensively,” said Garza. “We held them to 26.9 percent from the 3-point line and this is typically a great 3-point shooting team.”
The Phoenix’s Sandy Cohen III and Manny Patterson scored 17 points apiece. Cohen III also had team-highs with six rebounds and eight assists.
QUOTING HEAD COACH FRAN MCCAFFERY
“These two games presented different challenges, both teams. They were both small and quick, but this team pressed us all over the place. They were going off the dribble. You have to be able to adjust to things that are going on in the game.
“We have to adjust; Cohen went off in the first half, we have to recognize who’s hurting us and who’s not. That has to happen over the course of a season. These two games are games we knew would challenge us.
“When you watched this team on film, you knew it wasn’t going to be a blowout, you knew they’d challenge us.”
STAT OF THE GAME
For a second straight game, Iowa had a decided advantage at the free throw line. After making 28 of 38 free throw attempts in Thursday’s win over UMKC, the Hawkeyes made 34 free throws (in 45 attempts) against Green Bay.
Every Iowa player that saw action made at least one free throw, including a 9-of-11 effort from Cook.
“We shot 45 free throws; that’s what happens when you have an advantage,” said Connor McCaffery. “You have to keep going at it, and eventually you’ll pull away.”
- Iowa finished with 16 assists to 17 turnovers. It was the team’s second straight game with more turnovers than assists.
- Junior Cordell Pemsl didn’t play after coming down awkwardly in practice. Pemsl is day-to-day.
ON THE HORIZON
Iowa returns to action Thursday, facing No. 14/16 Oregon at 8:15 p.m. (CT) from Madison Square Garden in New York.