By RICK BROWN
DES MOINES, Iowa — Jordan Bohannon never got to play in the Iowa High School Boys’ State Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena.
His Linn-Mar teams never made it, including a crushing loss to Cedar Falls as a senior despite his 44-point effort. The Tigers’ star guard was a sophomore named A.J. Green.
So there was a little revenge on Bohannon’s mind heading into No. 22 Iowa’s game against Northern Iowa on Saturday in The Hy-Vee Classic at Wells Fargo Arena. Bohannon put the clamps on Green defensively in the Hawkeyes’ 77-54 victory.
“I think any time I go against A.J. Green there’s going to be a little bad blood,” Bohannon said after his team improved to 8-2. “He’s a good player. He’s going to be special in the coming years.”
Bohannon limited Green to just two points. He made just 1-of-8 shots. He had been averaging 15.8 points a game, and scored in double figures in seven of Northern Iowa’s first nine games.
“We did a really good job, right from the start,” said Bohannon, who made three 3-pointers of his own and played 23 minutes without a turnover. “I knew I wanted to pressure him and make it as tough on him as possible. I couldn’t have done it without the big guys helping out on ball screens.”
Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said that he could tell Bohannon was dialed in early in the game.
“You could see at the start, his energy level,” McCaffery said.
Bohannon’s teammates knew about his past history with Green. They knew he was motivated.
“We knew, for sure,” said center Luka Garza. “Jordan set the tone at the start of the game, picking him up and pressuring him.”
With defense as the ignition, Iowa took a 39-18 halftime lead. After Joe Wieskamp opened the second half with a 3-pointer, the Hawkeyes led by at least 20 points for all but one possession the remainder of the game. The Panthers shot just 21.4 percent from the floor in the first half and 36.4 percent for the game.
Iowa took advantage of its size advantage in the form of Garza and Tyler Cook. Both scored 17 points. Cook added 13 rebounds for his 12th career double-double.
It was also a milestone night for Cook, a junior forward. He became the 47th player in Iowa history to score at least 1,000 points. He now has 1,003.
“It’s cool, but the most important thing is we won the game,” said Cook. “I couldn’t get to this point without players like Jordan and the coaches for getting me in position to score the ball.”
QUOTING FRAN MCCAFFERY
“It (Cook reaching 1,000 career points) didn’t really mean anything to him. When you have a guy who is your best player, does he think that way? Is he a team guy? Does he put winning first? You look at his numbers. Five assists, 13 rebounds.”
Junior forward Cordell Pemsl, expected to miss the season and have surgery on his leg, was a surprise performer against Iowa State on Dec. 6. He finished with eight points and four rebounds in 16 minutes.
Pemsl didn’t play against Northern Iowa Saturday, and season-ending surgery is still a possibility.
“He just didn’t feel good,” McCaffery said. “It’s literally day-to-day with him. If he feels good, he can play, if he doesn’t, he doesn’t. I trust him to be able to make that decision and say, ‘Look, I can’t go.’ He knows if he’s going to be effective or not. He felt like he could be against Iowa State.”
- Jordan Bohannon became the seventh player in Iowa history to make at least 200 3-pointers. He made 3-of-5 attempts and now has 202 for his career. Jeff Horner (2003-06) leads that list with 262, followed by Matt Gatens (239), Chris Kingsbury (226), Peter Jok (216), Kent McCausland (214) and Adam Haluska (212).
- Iowa entered play Saturday leading the nation in free-throw makes per game (24.0) and attempts (31.3). The Hawkeyes made just nine of 14 free throws against the Panthers, both season lows.
- Tyler Cook recorded his third double-double in the last four games with his 17-point, 13-rebound effort.
- The Hawkeyes shot well from the floor for the second straight game against an in-state opponent. Iowa shot 53.7 percent against the Panthers Saturday, after a 57.4 percent outing against nine days ago.
ON THE HORIZON
Iowa returns to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday for a nonconference date with Western Carolina. Tip time is 8 p.m. (CT) and the game will be televised on BTN.