CHICAGO — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team overcame the turnover bug to post its ninth victory of the season Saturday night in the Windy City.
The Hawkeyes committed 24 turnovers and shot 66.7 (20-of-29) percent from the free throw line as they saw a 15-point lead evaporate in the second half. But Iowa kept its composure en route to a 77-70 victory over Cincinnati in a rematch of last season’s NCAA Tournament game at a Chicago Legends event at the United Center.
Redshirt freshman CJ Fredrick matched a career-high, scoring 21 points on 6-of-11 shooting with three 3-pointers against his hometown team. Sophomore Joe Wieskamp scored 16 and grabbed six rebounds, graduate transfer Bakari Evelyn had a season-high 15 points, seven rebounds, and four assists, and junior Luka Garza tallied a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Iowa took control of the game late in the first half, scoring eight points in a 38-second stretch — on a Fredrick jumper and back-to-back 3-pointers from Wieskamp and Garza — to turn a 27-27 tie into a 35-27 lead.
The Hawkeyes led 39-31 at the half before scoring 11 of the first 15 points of the second half to open a game-high 50-35 lead with 16:51 to play. Then the turnovers happened.
Cincinnati’s pressure forced the Hawkeyes into 14 second-half turnovers, causing the lead to shrink. The Bearcats cut the deficit to 10 points with 13:14 left and climbed to within 50-45 with 11:05 remaining.
Cincinnati tied the game at 62 on two Keith Williams free throws with 5:35 left before Williams no-look layup — with his back to the basket — gave the Bearcats their first lead — 64-62 — since the first half.
Wieskamp had the answer, hitting a 3-pointer with 4:24 on the clock to put Iowa up 65-64 and Evelyn followed with a 3-ball to push the lead to four. The Hawkeyes closed the game on a 15-6 run to notch their ninth victory of the season.
The Hawkeyes shot 46 percent from the field and made 11 3-pointers — from six different players — and Iowa dominated the action on the glass, 48-31. Cincinnati shot 34.7 percent and went just 6-of-24 from 3-point range.
Head Coach Fran McCaffery Says…
“It’s frustrating when you work as hard as we did on both ends of the court to get a 15 point lead. We got a little casual, which we warned against and were trying to guard against. Give credit to Cincinnati, they kept coming and balling. We met the challenge. We hit some big shots, got big stops, dominated the glass, forced them to low percentage shooting, and we moved and drove the ball enough to get the win.”
Evelyn entered Saturday’s game with three 3-pointers in Iowa’s first 11 games. He matched his season total in the United Center en route to a season-high 15 points. The Valparaiso transfer made 4-of-7 field goals, 3-of-4 3-pointers, and all four free throws in 29 minutes.
“I told him after the game, that’s why you came here, for nights like this, in a venue like this, on national television, to play this type of game,” said McCaffery. “He shot it from 3, drove the ball, defended, ran the point, off guard. I am thrilled for that kid, he has done everything we’ve asked him to do and it has taken a little time. He was the star tonight, and he’ll do that again.”
- Garza rejected a career-high five shots and he had a season-high 13 rebounds in the game.
- The Hawkeyes have won three straight games and four of their last six contests.
- Iowa’s 24 turnovers were a season-high, surpassing the 19 TOs in the home loss to DePaul on Nov. 11. The Bearcats scored 22 points off Iowa’s miscues.
Iowa returns to home Dec. 29 to host Kennesaw State in its nonconference finale. Tipoff is set for 3:05 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Tickets are available for purchase at hawkeyesports.com/tickets.