Quick thoughts from Iowa's impressive 84-68 win at Iowa State

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

AMES, Ia. — This Hilton Coliseum lead was safe for the Iowa men's basketball team.

Comfortable even.

Ultimately, it was a manhandling for the visiting team.

The Hawkeyes showed no fear, no hesitation and had no worries Thursday, crushing the Cyclones 84-68 before a passionate soldout crowd that was eventually cowed.

Iowa (8-3) hadn't won in this building since 2003, an eight-game losing streak. The Hawkeyes held halftime leads in the past three trips here.

In 2013, Iowa State went on an 8-0 run over the final 78 seconds to secure an 82-77 win. In 2017, the Cyclones erased a five-point halftime lead to win 84-78. The 2015 game was the cruelest for the Hawkeyes, who led by 20 points in the first half, by eight with 1:42 left ... and still lost 83-82.

This one was revenge for all of those.

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery used nine players, and seven of them came up with big shots to help quell any Cyclone momentum.

Center Luka Garza led the way again, with 21 points and 11 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. Joe Wieskamp added 13 points, Connor McCaffery 12 and CJ Fredrick 11.

BOHANNON FINALE? The fifth starter was Jordan Bohannon, and he, too, was in double-digits with 12 points. But there's much more to the story than that. The backdrop of Iowa's early season, and of this game, was whether it would be the last of the season for the senior guard. It was the 10th and final one he can play if he wants to seek a medical redshirt after offseason hip surgery. The native of Marion took to Twitter on Wednesday to needle fans of his in-state rival, referring to their city as "Lames." His statistical line might indicate it was a subpar outing for Bohannon. It wasn't. He made big 3-pointers in each half, and was the player with the ball in his hands late, as he so often is, making all six of his free throws to offset a 2 of 11 shooting night. He also added five defensive rebounds. His coup de grace came after his final free throw, when he blew a kiss to the crowd that had been razzing him all night.

And then he left his shoes on the court as he walked off. That's a pretty clear signal of his near future.

STRONG OPENINGS TO EACH HALF: Iowa State coach Steve Prohm called a timeout with his team trailing 14-4 with 16:23 left in the first half after a Bohannon 3-pointer. In the second half, he waited until 12:36 left to call the timeout. That came after Fredrick and Wieskamp nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to build Iowa's lead to 60-43. By the time Fredrick buried another open 3 on the other side of the timeout, the Hawkeye lead was 20 points and the fans, finally, were quieted for the first time. Iowa did a great job of handling a terrific college basketball environment, not allowing the Cyclones to go on any extensive run.

Iowa center Luka Garza goes for a dunk as the Hawkeyes take on the Cyclones at Hilton Coliseum in 
Ames Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019.

GARZA CONTINUES HIS DOMINANCE: Iowa opened the game with a second-chance basket, thanks to a Garza offensive rebound. It set a tone for the game, with Hawkeye post players continually keeping possessions alive. Garza, continuing to play like an all-American candidate, had 13 points and five rebounds in the opening half. Four of those were offensive rebounds. Ryan Kriener had two others and Cordell Pemsl. The Hawkeyes scored 11 second-chance points in the first half. Garza made 6 of 9 field-goal attempts, including a pair of dunks. The dunk he missed? Kriener was there to follow it up with a rebound and layup. Garza lost a tooth late in the game, bloodily heading to the bench. He returned moments later. That's toughness.

IOWA TAKES CARE OF THE BALL: The Hawkeyes entered the game averaging only 11.1 turnovers. That was good for 17th-best in the nation. In the first half, there were only two. That, combined with the offensive rebounds, allowed Iowa to attempt seven more shots than Iowa State. The Hawkeyes had attempted more shots than their four previous opponents, as well. That’s a positive trend.

CYCLONES LOOK HESITANT TO ATTACK: Iowa’s defense appeared to confuse the Cyclones, particularly in the opening minutes. The post players, even when they had the ball and a significant size advantage on Iowa guards Bohannon and McCaffery, were passing up shots while their teammates stood around on the perimeter and the shot clock wound down. It enabled Iowa to jump to an 18-4 lead. Iowa State didn’t score its second basket in the lane until 11 minutes into the game, when point guard Tyrese Haliburton, tired of being a spectator on the perimeter, drove in to score. Credit the Hawkeye defense for keeping the Cyclones out of sync.

Iowa next plays Cincinnati on Dec. 21 in Chicago.

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.

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