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The Hawkeye coach says he saw improvement despite allowing 92 points to Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Two Iowa freshmen made huge contributions Tuesday in a 92-78 loss at Notre Dame. Meanwhile, senior star Peter Jok couldn't find his shooting stroke.

Jordan Bohannon scored 23 points and Cordell Pemsl added 18 in their first starts as Hawkeyes to help Iowa hang tough for 30 minutes in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchup before an announced crowd of 7,660 at the Joyce Center.

Jok was held to 15 points — he was averaging 25.3 — and the Hawkeyes just didn't have enough firepower. Jok made only four of his 20 shots.

The Fighting Irish (7-0) were led by Bonzie Colson's 24 points.

“I thought they were really locked into him. (Notre Dame coach) Mike (Brey) was rotating guys and they were switching out on him, and they really worked hard defending him,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said of the defense on Jok. “He’s going to see that pretty much the rest of the year. We’re always going to give him the green light. The only thing I told him is what you might have to do is do a little more off the dribble to create for other people.”

Jok made only 2-of-9 shots from inside the arc, and finished with one of the Hawkeyes’ 22 assists.

The Hawkeyes (3-4) unveiled a new starting lineup for the first time this season and got immediate results. A closer look at each of the three first-time starters:

Pemsl powers through

Pemsl started at forward for the injured Tyler Cook and scored Iowa’s first four points.

But it was his stretch at the outset of the second half that was particularly impressive. Pemsl scored all 10 of Iowa's points in a sequence that ended with the visitors holding a 52-50 lead.

"I was a little passive when I got it in the post. I was picking up my dribble and kicking it out," Pemsl said of the first half. "My teammates were telling me, 'Hey, if you go in there they're going to have a hard time stopping you. If we work inside out, we're going to have a really easy time getting the ball in the basket.’ ”

Pemsl was so aggressive that he picked up a technical foul after scoring on a post-up move against Notre Dame star Colson, a junior. They appeared to jaw at each other and made slight contact under the basket. Pemsl, playing the first road game of his college career, quickly became the Hawkeye that Irish fans loved to jeer.

“He scored on me and that kind of got me going, so I ran and I had great position and I got the ball and I scored and I just let my emotions get the most of me. But the contact was all incidental. No one was bumping each other,” Pemsl said.

As for the booing, Pemsl claimed not to hear it.

“It was just like that in high school (at Dubuque Wahlert), too. Everywhere I went. But that’s OK for me. I don’t mind that. It makes me play a little harder.”

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The Hawkeye forward talks about the 10 points he scored in just 5 minutes of Wednesday's 92-78 loss to the Fighting Irish. Mark Emmert / The Register

Bohannon takes the reins

Bohannon made his first career start at point guard and promptly connected on four 3-pointers in the first half. He added three more in the second half, and also had seven assists against one turnover while playing 32 minutes. All were career-highs for the Linn-Mar product, who seems to have overtaken sophomore Christian Williams as Iowa’s lead guard.

"I got more comfortable as the game went on," Bohannon said. "After that first 3 went down I was like, 'OK, I can do this. It's just another game.' ”

Bohannon said he was most proud of cutting his turnovers down after having 15 in his first six games. His leadership showed as the Hawkeyes finished with 22 assists on 27 made field goals, with only six turnovers. They had 18 turnovers in each of their past two losses.

“It’s hard being a freshman and coming in here, first true road game and coach has been on me about turning the ball over and that’s something I want to continue throughout my career is limit my turnovers and create more assists for my teammates,” Bohannon said.

Moss answers the call

Redshirt freshman Isaiah Moss got the starting nod over junior Dom Uhl and made both of his first-half field goals, adding three assists in 12 first-half minutes. He finished with five assists and no turnovers.

The 6-foot-5 guard was averaging only 9.5 minutes per game coming in.

“I wanted to shake up the lineup. I wanted to go small. So I thought, he’s got the speed and quickness and size and length that would match up better with Notre Dame than going with the bigger lineup,” McCaffrey said. “He was really nervous in the beginning. I think that was obvious. I told him in the one timeout, I said, ‘Look, I need you to be aggressive. That’s who you are. You’re a scorer. You’re a shooter.’ And he went and got two buckets.”

Cook on the mend

Cook has a broken right index finger and is expected to miss the next three weeks, McCaffery said.

The 6-foot-9 native of St. Louis had started each of the Hawkeyes’ first six games and was second on the team with averages of 13.7 points and 5.3 rebounds.

He broke the bone during the team’s practice on Thanksgiving in Niceville, Fla., but played games Friday and Saturday anyway. He scored 23 points and had 13 rebounds in two Iowa losses in the Emerald Coast Classic.

It was then that he decided to have surgery.

McCaffery said Cook’s presence was missed Tuesday, especially on the offensive end. Iowa was outrebounded 45-32 despite a career-high 12 boards from sophomore forward Nicholas Baer.

“He can go get an offensive rebound. He’s going to demand attention that maybe somebody else can go in there and get a rebound,” McCaffery said of Cook. “He gives you another scoring threat. The guy had 17 (points) and seven (rebounds) against Memphis (on Saturday) with a broken finger. I mean, he’s a pretty tough kid.”

The timeline means Cook will miss Iowa’s Dec. 8 home game against rival Iowa State and likely its Dec. 17 contest in Des Moines against Northern Iowa.

Iowa next hosts Omaha at 1 p.m. Saturday.

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