Bohannon, Cook ignite Hawkeyes to needed 95-85 victory against UAB

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands — There is one team that is leaving the Cayman Islands Classic without a win, and it's not Iowa.

Iowa center Luka Garza goes up for a dunk that punctuated a 27-6 run to end the first half of Wednesday's game against Alabama-Birmingham in the Cayman Islands Classic.

Jordan Bohannon made sure of that. He got a big assist from fellow sophomore Tyler Cook.

Usually, it's the other way around.

Bohannon scored a career-high 30 points, igniting a first-half flurry that turned around the Hawkeyes' fortunes, and Iowa hung on to beat the University of Alabama-Birmingham, 95-85, Wednesday at John Gray Gymnasium.

The Hawkeyes had lost games here Monday and Tuesday and clearly were embarrassed to find themselves in the tournament's seventh-place game. They were ready to claw for a win.

Bohannon helped deliver it, shaking free of a harassing Blazer defense time and again to bury big shots. He made 6 of 8 attempts from 3-point range, including three on back-to-back-to-back possessions in a crucial first-half surge. 

"This is where good teams are made is the beginning of the season and down when adversity hits you. We had a really good win here and it's going to really help us out later in the season," Bohannon said. "We needed this one to bounce back and let us know that everything's OK."

Cook added 29 points, also a career-high. The ambidextrous forward showed off good range on his left-handed hook shot and also bolted inside for his usual assortment of dunks.

When the Blazers (3-3) couldn't keep up with him, they fouled him, sending him to the free-throw line 16 times. Cook made 13 of those, by far the best showing of his young career.

"Coach (Fran McCaffery) challenged me (Tuesday) to just be better, be a leader. And so offensively I just tried to make sure I helped my team out anyway I could," Cook said.

"When I'm in that kind of mindset I want to take it to the rack, trying to go through guys and I'm going to get to the line."

Freshman Luka Garza added 14 points, including a key 3-point play in the final minute, in his best performance of this tournament.

Maishe Dailey came off the bench for his strongest game in an Iowa uniform, scoring seven points, including a big late 3-pointer.

Freshman Jack Nunge started in place of Ahmad Wagner, who was out with a shoulder injury, but was held scoreless. Dailey picked him up.

Iowa played its best stretch of basketball this season late in the first half. Bohannon got it started, draining a trio of 3-pointers — each farther out than the last — to help the Hawkeyes climb out of a 31-22 hole.

That led to a Cook fast-break basket, a Garza dunk, an Isaiah Moss jumper. Soon, Iowa was on a 27-6 run to grab a 49-37 halftime lead.

"They came after him. They rotated guys on him. They were physical with him," McCaffery said of the UAB defense on Bohannon. "We wanted to go inside to Luka and to Tyler and those guys both had big games. But it all starts with your point guard."

Bohannon said he second-guessed himself after taking only five shots in Tuesday's loss to South Dakota State.

"I wish I would have been more aggressive because the team needed me to step up," he said. "I knew that if we got down like we did that I needed to step up and hit some shots. And my teammates did a really good job of screening for me."

After two sluggish and dispiriting days, it was just what Iowa needed.

Iowa next plays at Virginia Tech at 8 p.m. Tuesday as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.