By JAMES ALLAN
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Hawkeyes were short-handed Tuesday at the Carrier Dome, but it didn’t matter.
Playing without redshirt freshman CJ Fredrick and redshirt senior Cordell Pemsl, who were out nursing injuries, the University of Iowa men’s basketball team rolled to a 68-54 Big Ten/ACC Challenge victory over Syracuse.
The Hawkeyes clung to a 30-29 lead at the half after shooting just 36.4 percent, committing eight turnovers, and attempting 19 3-pointers (six makes) in the first half. The second half was a different story, as exceptional ball movement saw the Hawkeyes beat the Orange’s 2-3 zone and take control.
“Our ball movement in both halves was good,” said Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery. “(Jordan) Bohannon goes 1-for-8 (in the first half) and turns around and makes 4 3s in the second half. I figured he would come back, that’s what he does. He makes big shots.
“We got Garza going in the second half. You have to be able to establish that you can make 3s and establish an inside game, which is what we did.”
A Jordan Bohannon 3-pointer made the score 40-36 at the 16-minute mark before the Hawkeyes scored 16-of-18 points to build a 54-38 lead. Bohannon made two 3-pointers during the stretch and the Hawkeyes held the Orange scoreless for a 5:21 stretch.
“Our defense was good in the second half, in particular, (Joe) Wieskamp on (Elijah) Hughes,” said McCaffery. “Joe really locked in on defending him.”
Junior Luka Garza led a trio of players in double figures, scoring 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting to go along with nine rebounds. It was Garza’s fourth 20-point game this season.
Bohannon made a season-high 5 3-pointers (6 total field goals) to score 17 points and Joe Wieskamp scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Iowa shot 51.7 percent in the second half, making 15-of-29 field goals and six 3-pointers. The Hawkeyes shot 42.6 percent for the game and made 11 3s in 34 attempts.
Defensively, Iowa limited the Orange to nine second-half field goals and 19 field goals for the game, where they shot 36.5 percent. Syracuse was 6-of-21 from the 3-point range and committed 16 turnovers.
Marek Dolezaj scored 12 points to lead the Orange, while Hughes added 10 points.
QUOTING HEAD COACH FRAN MCCAFFERY
“We stayed together, stuck to the game plan. You go on the road and win a game, now you go back on the road, that’s what this level is. I was pleased with the ability to stay the course, regardless of what happened.”
ASSISTS FOR ALL
The Hawkeyes finished with 17 assists on its 26 field goals. All eight Iowa players that saw action had at least one assist, including a team-high four assists from Wieskamp and Connor McCaffery.
Iowa was limited to eight scholarship players with redshirt freshman CJ Fredrick (quad) and redshirt junior Cordell Pemsl (back) missing Tuesday’s game at Syracuse.
“We thought about it today at shoot around then we made the decision right before the game,” said McCaffery. “He was dressed then put his street clothes back on. I like his chances Friday, but we’ll see.”
- Senior Riley Till played a season-high 10 minutes, grabbing three rebounds and tallying an assist.
- Iowa limited Syracuse to 54 points — the fewest by a Hawkeye opponent this season.
- The Hawkeyes played in front of a crowd of 20,844 — the fourth-largest crowd for an Iowa regular season game.
- Iowa scored 15 second-chance points on 12 offensive rebounds.
The Hawkeyes open Big Ten Conference play Friday, traveling to Ann Arbor to face fourth-ranked Michigan at 5:30 p.m. (CT).