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SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Iowa was forced to tighten its lineup before its men's basketball game at Syracuse Tuesday, then it tightened its performance after halftime.
Thus, the Hawkeyes (6-2) powered away from the Orange (4-4) before 20,844 fans at the Carrier Dome, earning a 68-54 win in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Iowa played without starting guard CJ Fredrick and reserve forward Cordell Pemsl. Fredrick (11.1 points per game) had a sore quadriceps muscle and Pemsl had a sore back. The Hawkeyes played like they were short-handed in a first-half slog, but led 30-29 at the break despite making eight turnovers and shooting just 34.4 percent from the field and 5-of-18 from 3-point range.
The second half was the big tighten-up. Iowa made 15 of 29 shots (51.7 percent) from the floor, and didn't commit a turnover in the half until 2:46 remained. Syracuse, meanwhile, remained cold and careless. The Orange ended with 36.5 percent shooting and 16 turnovers.
'I thought defensively we really took them out of what they wanted to do,' said Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery in a Hawkeye Radio Network interview.
With the two missing players and second-half foul trouble to starting forward Ryan Kriener and backup point guard Joe Toussaint, Iowa went most of the final 13 minutes with the lineup of Jordan Bohannon, Bakari Evelyn, Luka Garza, Connor McCaffery and Joe Wieskamp. All played their season-high in minutes. Things clicked.
Bohannon, who continues to deal with hip soreness, played 37 minutes and scored 17 points after getting held to three points in 23 minutes last Friday in Iowa's 83-73 loss to San Diego State in Las Vegas.
'It's feeling OK,' Bohannon said on the aforementioned broadcast. 'I was pretty sore and it hurt a little bit after the San Diego State game.'
Bohannon was 1-of-8 from 3-point distance in the first half of this one, 4-of-6 after that.
'It took me a little while to get going,' he said. 'I was a little frustrated with myself.'
'You know J-Bo wasn't going to go 1-of-8 again,' Fran McCaffery said. 'He makes four in the second half. That's what he does.
Garza had a game-high 23 points and matched Wieskamp's game-high nine rebounds. Wieskamp had 13 points. He and Connor McCaffery had four assists apiece.
'Quite honestly,' Bohannon said, 'I don't think we took a really bad shot the entire night.'
Bohannon had two 3-pointers in the 12-0 Iowa run that gave it a 56-38 lead with 8:57 left. The game had been tied less than 10 minutes earlier.
Evelyn, a senior guard, played a sound floor game. Junior forward Riley Till also played a season-high in minutes with 10. He had two of Iowa's 12 offensive rebounds.
'Riley Till was spectacular,' Fran McCaffery said. 'It was a good game for him.'
It was a good game for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa's next outing is its Big Ten opener, Friday at 5:30 p.m. (Iowa time) at fourth-ranked Michigan. The Wolverines (7-1) lost Tuesday at No. 1 Louisville, 58-43.