IOWA CITY — You remember them, if you’re old enough.
There was Roy Marble, B.J. Armstrong, Ed Horton and Bill Jones. There was Brad Lohaus, Jeff Moe, Gerry Wright and Al Lorenzen.
Coach Tom Davis and his full-court pressure defense. Running and gunning.
The 1986-87 Iowa Hawkeyes were special: ranked No. 1 nationally at one point, a 30-win team, an Elite Eight team, one of the best in school history. That group got brought back up Saturday night after Iowa’s 72-67 escape of Bryant at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
That’s because these Hawks matched them in one way, finishing the non-conference portion of their schedule perfect. Been over three decades since that’s been done around here, and it wasn’t lost on them.
“I’m proud of the guys,” said Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon. “We did something tonight that hasn’t been done in 32 years. That shows the type of team we have. From day one, we said we wanted to change the position of this program. That just says it all. To do something like that, it’s pretty special.”
“It’s the first of many achievements for the year,” added Iowa’s Tyler Cook. “It’s good to get that.”
They didn’t get that easily. This was a tied game with three minutes left, as Bryant (3-8) ran the shot clock down on virtually every offensive possession, then dribble-drove and 3-pointed Iowa (11-2) to death.
Cook’s driving bucket put the Hawks ahead for good, 68-66, with 2:21 to go, and Iowa finally got defensive stops from there. Cook played all 40 minutes, scoring 19 points, hauling in 12 rebounds and adding six assists.
Bohannon added 17 points, Nicholas Baer 12.
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“They ran some stuff we probably weren’t ready for,” Bohannon said. “Looking back at all of their games, we watched every single game, and they played more like Savannah State played. Pressing and moving the ball. But they slowed the game down tonight, did a lot of different things. We had to adjust a little bit, and I thought we did a good job of that towards the end of the game. We got some huge stops.”
“I thought (Bryant) really competed,” said Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery. “They’ve got a bunch of guys who can score off the dribble. They ran the clock down every possession. Defensively, I thought we were OK at times. We really weren’t good until the stretch.”
Iowa went into a half-court trap a handful of times, but chose to let Bryant run clock most of the time. McCaffery said he wanted to see his team defend.
Iowa played again without center Luka Garza, who has an ankle injury. McCaffery said his availability for Thursday night’s Big Ten Conference re-opener at Purdue literally will be a game-time decision.
“We are not going to rush him back, I’ll tell you that,” McCaffery said.
Bryant got 23 points from guard Adam Grant, 20 in the first half. Tanner Johnson added 16 points, 13 in the second half.
“Very proud of our guys’ effort,” said first-year Bryant Coach Jared Grasso. “I thought we controlled the tempo, like we talked about. Our kids really competed. For us, it’s a building block.”
For Iowa, it was an achievement.
“It’s great,” McCaffery said. “But we recognize what is coming: 18 big games. We’ve already lost twice. We didn’t play well against Michigan State, played fairly well against Wisconsin but couldn’t close it out. That’s what the Big Ten is. You’ve got to play better. Right away, we’re on the road. It’s a big challenge for us ... You’re pleased, but not satisfied, I guess.”
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