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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Iowa men’s basketball can add bad luck to its early season ups and downs.
The Hawkeyes will be without their starting center and marquee freshman Tyler Cook for approximately three weeks after the St. Louis native fractured his right index finger, requiring surgery Tuesday in Iowa City. Cook injured the finger during practice for the Emerald Coast Classic in Destin, Fla. on Thanksgiving Day, but was able to play in both the Virigina and Memphis games with what they thought was just a jammed finger.
"The guy had 17 and 7 against Memphis with a broken finger. That’s a pretty tough kid,” McCaffery said after Iowa's 92-78 loss to Notre Dame on Tuesday. “It’s like anything else. We’re all sick for him. We want him here, he wants to be here, but it’s an opportunity for somebody else. Cordell (Pemsl) stepped up and made the most of it.”
When the team returned to Iowa City, Cook and McCaffery were forced to make the decision that will keep Iowa without its second-leading scorer and rebounder for just shy of a month.
“After discussions with Tyler and the medical staff, it was determined that surgery was the best treatment for Tyler in terms of proper healing and recovery time,” McCaffery said via news release. “We expect Tyler to make a full recovery and look forward to him rejoining his teammates on the court soon.”
Cook’s surgery meant he did not travel with the team to South Bend to play in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
We gon keep it pushin. Coming back another animal— Tyler Cook (@KingCook_25) November 30, 2016
Pemsl, a freshman from Dubuque Wahlert, was placed into the starting lineup in place of Cook, who averages 13.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Pemsl tied his career-best against the Irish, finishing with 18 points on 8 of 9 shooting.
Cook started each of the first six games of the season, and was shooting 56.4 percent from the field. While senior guard Peter Jok has been the team’s primary offensive weapon, Cook was the Hawkeyes’ main weapon inside. He averaged 25.7 minutes per game, and headed into Tuesday’s game against Notre Dame, had been used on 25.3 percent of Iowa’s offensive possessions, both second only to Jok (27.8 minutes per game; 28.5 percent).
Cook is the second Iowa player to fall victim to injury already in the young season. Senior Dale Jones fractured his right wrist against Seton Hall and is expected to be out eight weeks.
Cook's time sidelined likely means he will miss both the Iowa State and Northern Iowa games in December, which are the Hawkeyes' two marquee games left before the conference season begins.
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