Iowa Men's Basketball

Iowa Hawkeyes' starters finished big this time against Minnesota

Luka Garza has 33 points, Jordan Bohannon 14 assists in 86-71 win

IOWA CITY — Christmas might as well have been Halloween for the Iowa men’s basketball team in general and Hawkeye senior guard Jordan Bohannon in specific.

Iowa lost 102-95 in overtime at Minnesota, and Bohannon was getting called out in cyberspace for poor shooting and defensive lapses. He was 1 of 7 from 3-point range in the game and had been shooting 27.9 percent from deep for the season. Meanwhile, “same old Hawkeye defense” was uttered a time or two outside the Iowa camp.

Zip ahead 16 days to Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The No. 5 Hawkeyes (11-2, 5-1 Big Ten) toppled No. 16 Minnesota (10-4, 3-4), 86-71, for their fourth-straight win since that game in Minneapolis.

Bohannon? He had 19 points, a career-high 14 assists, a career-high seven rebounds, and zero turnovers in 36 minutes. Over those four post-Christmas contests, he is averaging 18.5 points and has made 19 of 30 treys. Simply put, he’s playing great ball.

“It’s fun to look and say we had 27 assists on 31 field goals and he’s 14-and-0 (assists to turnovers),” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “I haven’t seen too many lines like that: Nineteen points, 14 assists, no turns, seven rebounds.”

Bohannon said the zero turnovers was his favorite part of that line, but the way he kept setting up Luka Garza in transition wasn’t too shabby.

“If it wasn’t for Luka making layups, I wouldn’t have 14 assists,” Bohannon said.

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Were it not for Bohannon setting up Garza, the nation’s leading scorer wouldn’t have had 33 points. He had 12 in the first 8:43 of the second half when the Hawkeyes bumped a 39-37 halftime lead all the way up to 63-45.

“Jordan was really finding me in the right spots in transition,” Garza said. “It helps me. It takes a lot of the double-teams away because they can’t double-team when we’re pushing it.

“It’s awesome to play on a team like this with that many unselfish guys.”

After an 89-67 win at Maryland last Thursday in which four subs joined guard Connor McCaffery for a 20-0 first-half run, this was a game for the vets. The starters had 77 of the 86 points. Junior Joe Wieskamp had 20, going 7 of 9 from the field and drilling all three of his 3-pointers.

“Twenty points on nine shots, that’s impressive,” Garza said.

Wieskamp had been struggling. He had made just 11 of 36 shots and 3 of 16 3-pointers over his last four games, and played a season-low 17 minutes at Maryland.

Fran McCaffery said Wieskamp’s practice performance on Saturday was the sign of what was to come Sunday.

“I knew I had to earn a little bit of respect back,” Wieskamp said, “and had to go prove that in practice. I tried to set the tone and let (McCaffery know) what I’m capable of and why I need to be on the floor and things like that.”

Minnesota chopped Iowa’s lead to 68-63 with 5:32 left. McCaffery called a timeout, and Garza scored on the Hawkeyes’ next two possessions. Iowa closed things out with the game’s last eight points, with the final two scores fittingly coming on 3-pointers by Wieskamp and Bohannon.

Wieskamp passed the 1,000-point career mark in the second half, the 50th Hawkeye to get there. 

Bohannon had the most assists by a Hawkeye since B.J. Armstrong’s 15 in 1989. The Iowa record is 16, set by Cal Wulfsberg in 1976. Can he top that before the season’s over?

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“If Luka keeps making layups, I’m definitely going to get there at some point,” Bohannon said. “He better keep shooting it if I pass to him, that’s all I’m saying.”

Iowa’s next game is here Thursday at 8:05 p.m. against Michigan State.

Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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