116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Jordan Bohannon, who grew up in Marion and is in his sixth season as a member of the Iowa men’s basketball team, is an East Coast guy.
“I love playing on the East Coast for whatever reason,” Bohannon said Sunday. “I don’t know if it’s the 10:30 p.m. starts for TV recently.”
That was an intentional exaggeration, which Bohannon enjoys. Wednesday’s Iowa-Rutgers game at the newly named Jersey Mike’s Arena (better known as the RAC) starts at 8:37 p.m., Eastern time.
“We’re trying to get ourselves in a position to get a double-bye (in the Big Ten tournament) and I think we still have the chance to do that even though every single person in the entire country wrote us off,” Bohannon said.
That claim would appear to be inflated by 333 million or so people, but you don’t need to fact-check any love Bohannon professes about playing at Rutgers.
The Hawkeyes are 3-1 in Piscataway with Bohannon in the lineup. He has averaged 17.8 points and 3.8 assists at Rutgers, and has made 16 of 28 3-pointers in the school’s 8,000-seat gym.
The problem for Iowa is some other players who have performed very well recently in the RAC. Those would be Rutgers players, particularly seniors Geo Baker and Ron Harper Jr.
After wheezing through nonconference play, including losses to Lafayette and Massachusetts, the Scarlet Knights have been better in Big Ten play, going 4-2.
They have beaten Purdue and Michigan at home. They’re fresh off a 70-59 win at Maryland last Saturday after trailing the Terrapins by 11 points at halftime.
“They’re playing really well,” said Bohannon, and that’s no exaggeration.
Harper, a fourth-year senior, made six 3-pointers and scored 31 points at Maryland. His 16.6 points per game tops the Knights. He has averaged 18.4 points in his five games against Iowa, four of them losses.
Baker is a point guard who decided to return for his fifth season in July, a little over two months after Bohannon opted to come back to Iowa for his sixth season. Baker has averaged 11.7 points and 5.4 assists in six games against the Hawkeyes.
Baker and Bohannon are friendly rivals. They, with former Michigan player Isaiah Livers, led the #NotNCAAProperty campaign last spring, calling for change around the NCAA’s control over their marketing opportunities.
Baker and Harper are two-fifths of a starting five that once was common, but now looks like a rarity. Those two along with Caleb McConnell, Paul Mulcahy and Clifford Omoruyi have played college ball nowhere but Rutgers, and have a combined 307 games started.
Last year, they were part of the Scarlet Knights’ first NCAA tournament victory since 1983. But their last two home games against Iowa — in 2019 and 2021 — were two-point losses.
Iowa goes to Jersey in a better head space than it was in a week ago today. The Hawkeyes beat Indiana last Thursday in Iowa City, then earned an 81-71 win at Minnesota Sunday to square their Big Ten mark at 3-3.
“No one thought we were going to be a good basketball team this year,” Bohannon said. “I think we’re kind of showing with these last two wins that we beat some really good teams.”
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