By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The 21st-ranked University of Iowa men’s basketball team completed its nonconference schedule undefeated for the first time since the 1986-87 season, but it didn’t come easy.
The Hawkeyes survived an upset bid, downing Bryant, 72-67, in their nonconference finale Saturday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“That was tough, a credit to that Bryant team, they came to play,” said junior Tyler Cook, who paced Iowa with 19 points and 12 rebounds. “They have a heck of a squad. Whoever hit the floor made a great impact for them and they made it tough on us defensively.
“Thankfully we were able to pull it out.”
Iowa led by as many as eight points twice in the second half, but the pesky Bulldogs wouldn’t go away.
Following a Joe Wieskamp 3-pointer that gave Iowa a 64-56 lead with 6:32 remaining, Bryant reeled off eight straight points to tie the game at 64. Wieskamp put the Hawkeyes up 66-64 with 4:01 left before Jordan Kasperzyk’s lay-up knotted things up at 66 with 3:08 to play.
The bucket would be Bryant’s final field goal of the game. The Bulldogs missed their final seven field goal attempts.
“We were able to get those key stops in the second half and get some easy buckets toward the end and separate just enough for us to win the game,” said Cook.
Cook’s driving layup put Iowa up 68-66 with 2:23 to play and Cook made 1-of-2 free throws, giving Iowa a 69-66 lead with 48 seconds remaining. On Bryant’s ensuing possession, Connor McCaffery blocked Adam Grant before forcing a Grant miss on an off-balanced 3-point attempt.
Senior Nicholas Baer secured the rebound and got the ball to junior Jordan Bohannon, who was fouled and hit two free throws to essentially seal the Hawkeyes’ 11th win.
Cook posted his fourth double-double in seven games, while also leading the team with a career-best six assists. He was 5-of-8 from the field and 9-of-13 from the free throw line.
Bohannon made five 3-pointers en route to a 17-point night, while Baer and Wieskamp finished with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Iowa shot 45.7 percent from the field, making 21-of-46 field goals. The team made nine 3-pointers and 21-of-31 free throws.
Bryant shot 43.1 percent and made 10 3-pointers, but went just 7-of-12 from the free throw stripe. Grant led the team with 23 points, leading a trio of Bulldogs in double figures.
- Tyler Cook joins Peter Jok and Aaron White as the only Hawkeyes in the Fran McCaffery era to total 15+ points and 5+ rebounds in seven straight games.
- In his second start of the season, senior Nicholas Baer reached double figures for the fourth time this season, finishing tonight’s game with 12 points. Baer was credited with a game and season-best five blocks, marking the second time in three games that Baer rejected four or more shots.
- Jordan Bohannon made five 3-pointers in tonight’s victory. The junior guard has made a combined 11 triples the last two games for the Hawkeyes.
- Iowa won its second game of the season by five points or less.
- Starting center Luka Garza missed his second straight game (sprained ankle).
- Iowa has won 59 of its last 63 non-conference home games, dating back to 2012.
ON THE HORIZON
Iowa resumes Big Ten Conference play at Purdue on Jan. 3. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. (CT) at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana.