No. 3 Iowa 93, No. 14 North Carolina 80: Here's what we learned

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The third-ranked Iowa men's basketball team had its first big test of the season Tuesday, on prime time with a national TV audience.

No. 14 North Carolina came to Carver-Hawkeye Arena with more size than the Hawkeyes will see most of the winter, and with an array of highly touted freshmen.

Iowa raced to a large lead, watched the Tar Heels erase  it and then had every answer in the final 10 minutes to secure a hard-fought 93-80 win. 

The Hawkeyes' trio of talented long-range shooters were on target, taking the pressure off of center Luka Garza, who was surrounded in the paint all night and finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds.

Jordan Bohannon scored 24 points. CJ Fredrick added 21. Joe Wieskamp had 19. They combined to make 17 of their 30 3-point attempts.

Iowa (4-0) forced 18 North Carolina turnovers, using the team's youth against it, turning them into 23 points. The Tar Heels (3-2) took a brief lead in the second half, but the veteran Hawkeyes didn't fold.

Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon (3) makes a 3-point basket during a NCAA non-conference men's basketball game in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge against North Carolina, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Here's what we learned:

BENCH SCORING ARRIVES JUST IN TIME: Iowa coach Fran McCaffery used nine players in an intense, physical matchup, but had only two points from his reserves until midway through the second half. That's when sophomore guard Joe Toussaint drove for aa pair of layups and freshman forward Keegan Murray burst into the lane to rebound a Garza miss and bank it home while being fouled. Suddenly, there were seven vital points at a time when the Tar Heels had finally taken a one-point lead. It was an important sequence for the Hawkeyes, who soon restored a double-digit lead.

BOHANNON WAITING FOR THE BRIGHT LIGHTS? Jordan Bohannon was unusually quiet offensively in Iowa’s 3-0 start, making just 3 of 12 3-pointers. He seemed content to test out his surgically repaired hip and be more of a facilitator than scorer as the Hawkeyes trampled three overmatched opponents. The fifth-year senior has always been a big-game player, and you sensed that he was waiting for the competition to ramp up before searching out his own offense. Sure enough, Bohannon nailed three first-half 3-pointers Tuesday as the Hawkeyes took a 43-31 lead. Bohannon added three assists without a turnover. He was the Bohannon of old.

CLEANING UP THE GLASS: North Carolina is a poor shooting team (27.1% from the 3-point arc) that makes up for it by dominant offensive rebounding (17.8 per game). The Hawkeyes spoke of the need to make that a priority, not letting the Tar Heels off the hook for a missed shot by letting them gather the rebound and score anyway. In the first half, the Hawkeyes delivered a clinic in blocking out. North Carolina missed 20 shots but collected only five of those rebounds, good for a mere two points. Center Luka Garza had five defensive rebounds, but got plenty of help. Joe Wieskamp had three; Connor and Patrick McCaffery had two apiece.

Iowa next hosts Iowa State at 8 p.m. Friday.

Mark Emmert covers the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Register. Reach him at memmert@registermedia.com or 319-339-7367. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkEmmert.