IOWA CITY — It was career start No. 76 for Jordan Bohannon and career start No. 1 for Ryan Kriener. It felt like a fresh start for the two juniors and their team.
Bohannon had his best game of the season in Iowa’s 93-84 men’s basketball victory over Nebraska Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. He had all of his game-high/season-high 25 points in the game’s last 20:01.
After the Huskers’ James Palmer finished a three-point play with three seconds left in the half, Bohannon dashed downcourt and let a one-handed shot of about 30 feet fly. It caromed off the glass and through the net for a 44-40 Iowa lead.
“I did not call bank,” Linn-Mar High’s Bohannon said.
No, but he called about everything else from that point on, making four more 3-pointers and all 10 of his free throws. He also had five assists, and played with an aggressiveness that sustained his team over the final 20 minutes when it never relinquished the lead.
As a result, Iowa improved to 1-3 in the Big Ten, 12-3 overall.
As for Kriener, the forward from Spirit Lake had season-highs of 14 points and 25 minutes and made Coach Fran McCaffery look smart for starting him.
“I’m glad he told me in advance and not just dropped it on me before the game,” Kriener said. “When he told me, I tried not to freak out. Because this is kind of like something I always dreamed about when I was a kid coming to my dream school.”
Kriener popped in a 3-pointer for the game’s first points, 21 seconds into the affair.
“As soon as it went in,” he said, “all those jitters left and it was time to play ball.”
Bohannon and Kriener played a lot of basketball together over the years on AAU teams before becoming Hawkeyes.
“It was either him hitting me long in AAU or me getting him a transition ball-screen that I did a few times for him (today),” said Kriener. “That was awesome. That takes me back, man.”
Before this game, Bohannon hadn’t been the Bohannon of his first two seasons. His scoring average entering this game was 10.4 points, down 3.1 from last season. His 3-point percentage was .353, down .077 from his stellar .430 as a sophomore.
His first-half buzzer-beater was his first 3-point try of the game. It set off something good in him.
“When you make one,” Bohannon said, “the basket seems to get a little bigger. Something in your eye just makes it feel like every shot is going to go in.”
He was more than a shooter, though. There was a stretch of five straight second-half possessions when Bohannon’s assertiveness led to scores as Iowa turned a 49-47 edge into a 60-51 advantage.
“I’m really proud of the way he carried us during that one stretch,” McCaffery said.
All five Iowa starters scored in double figures. Guard Isaiah Moss had 12 points, five assists, and a career-high 10 rebounds. Tyler Cook scored 16 points and drew eight fouls.
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Then there was sophomore post player Luka Garza, who had eight first-half points in eight minutes after missing the previous three games with a sprained ankle.
“It felt amazing,” Garza said, referring to the game, not the ankle.
Garza is almost healed. That and the victory made for a lot of good medicine for the Hawkeyes.
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