Jordan Bohannon's last-second three sends Iowa basketball to Big Ten Tournament final
INDIANAPOLIS — Iowa's men's basketball team's historic run in the Big Ten Tournament continued in legendary fashion. And the signature moment of Saturday's 80-77 win over Indiana belonged to sixth-year senior guard Jordan Bohannon.
The school's all-time leader in assists, games played and 3-pointers added another memory to his storied career: a prayer of a triple — off the glass — with 1.1 seconds left, which sent Iowa to its first Big Ten Tournament final since 2006.
"Something that can't even be put into words," Bohannon said afterwards. "You dream about it as a little kid, throwing up shots in the backyard, throwing up shots at the local YMCA when you're a kid and hoping one day you get to this stage. And I was running in circles, I didn't know where to go because I was so excited. To be in that moment, it's been so much fun."
In the face of harassing Indiana defense with precious seconds left, the Hawkeye sharpshooter banked in a deep 3-pointer for the 80-77 game-winner in Indianapolis. That play capped off a furious 22-10 run in the final five minutes to secure the comeback victory.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery nearly called a timeout seconds before the shot. Good thing he didn't.
"Almost used it, thought about it and then (Bohannon) raised up," McCaffery said. "He was supposed to get a shot in the corner. They jammed it up. Credit them for that. He kept coming, Connor (McCaffery) hit him. Now he's on the open floor. He's pretty good up there. He looked up and he just raised up and drilled it.
"As long as he's shooting it, it's probably better than anything I could have drawn up anyway."
At the 5:29 mark, it looked like it would be Indiana's day. To that point the Hoosiers led 67-58 and held the lead for the nearly the entire second half. Iowa's first lead of the game didn't come until Bohannon's game-winner. Still, Iowa never stopped believing.
Belief has been at the center of Bohannon's career. He's stated numerous times that most college coaches didn't believe in him out of Linn-Mar in Marion, Iowa, but Fran McCaffery did.
On Saturday, with 5:29 remaining, an online win probability gave Iowa only a 7.5% chance to win. Bohannon, who returned to Iowa for a sixth season for moments like this, helped spark a run then delivered the shot to send Iowa to a potential title.
"It starts with coach (McCaffery)," Bohannon said. "From Day 1, he knew obviously what we lost last year, but he also knew what we had in that locker room before he started that first game of the year. And I think his belief from Day 1 had us around the locker room, put our hands around each other and kind of bring this team in one direction.
We got down five and coach just continued to keep us calm and steady and keep playing our game, and that says a lot about him. He let us play, let us get back. We got the lead."
Bohannon's star teammate, Keegan Murray, continued his postseason dominance on Saturday, leading all scorers with 32 points and eight 3-pointers of his own.
"I've played with some phenomenal teammates," Bohannon said. "(Murray) is going to be (an NBA) lottery pick. Luka Garza, Tyler Cook, Joe Wieskamp, you just go down the line of all the phenomenal teammates I've had. And that's what makes this year so much fun too, because we lost some of those guys last year and we have a guy like Keegan step back up into the role and I don't think he got enough acknowledgment for what he just did (on Saturday against Rutgers). He broke Luka Garza's single-season (scoring) record.
"That's what makes this group so special. We have a lot of guys that just want to work and want to win."
In the Big Ten title bout Sunday, the Hawkeyes (25-9) will play No. 3 seed Purdue. And not long after that game ends, Iowa will hear where it has been selected for the NCAA Tournament.
Also, Iowa's making a strong case for a No. 5 (or even No. 4) seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. A Big Ten championship would certainly help that case.
But Iowa has one more goal before Selection Sunday: Cutting down the nets in Indy.
Kennington Lloyd Smith III covers Iowa Hawkeyes football and men's basketball for the Des Moines Register. You can connect with Kennington on Twitter @SkinnyKenny_ or email him at email@example.com.