Jordan Bohannon was the old Jordan Bohannon, and Iowa was the same old Iowa when it came to playing Northwestern.
The 10th-ranked Hawkeyes got their fifth-straight men’s basketball win over the No. 19 Wildcats Tuesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, 87-72. Iowa improved to 8-0 at home, 8-2 overall, and 2-1 in the Big Ten. Northwestern slipped to 3-1 in the conference, 7-2 total.
Bohannon shot a chilly 22.6 percent from 3-point distance (7 of 31) over Iowa’s previous five games, but knocked down 6 of 9 treys Tuesday and scored a game-high 24 points, 19 in the second half.
It was a tonic for the Hawkeyes’ 102-95 overtime loss at Minnesota last Friday. Bohannon missed all but one of his seven 3-point attempts in that game.
“I really haven’t gone through this long of a stretch when I felt like I couldn’t get anything going,” Bohannon said this week on the podcast he co-hosts. "So it’s been real frustrating for myself just knowing every shot I shoot feels right there. I feel like I haven’t taken any bad shots this year.”
The fifth-year senior guard made a bomb with 6:14 left to give the Hawkeyes a 76-62 lead, their biggest of the game to that point. He added another 3-pointer with 3:40 left to make it 81-67, and yet another with 2:36 remaining.
Bohannon played the entire second half, partly because he was playing so well and partly because backup point guard Joe Toussaint sprained an ankle in the first half. Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said he didn’t think it was a long-term injury, and held Toussaint out of the second half as a precaution.
McCaffery had a talk with Bohannon earlier in the week, and the player said it helped.
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“Fran brought me into his office a couple days ago,” Bohannon said. “He just was preaching what he always has since I’ve been here. He has the most confidence in me and that’s why he recruited me because of how I play on the court and my swag, how much different we are on the court when I’m like that.”
But Bohannon didn’t have his swagger lately.
“I didn’t feel like myself in the first seven, eight games,” he said.
“I’ve been through two hip surgeries in a year-and-a-half to two years. Not to use that excuse, but I know I have a lot of kind of catching up to do, just getting my rhythm back. It’s going to take a couple games. I think that kind of helped talking to Coach McCaffery and him kind of giving me the nudge a little more to realize that I’m a really good player, and the things I’ve done at the University of Iowa and the things I can do in the future for this team.”
McCaffery has repeatedly said this season that he wants Bohannon to keep shooting. Tuesday, you saw why. But the coach saw a need to boost the confidence of the player who has scored 1,396 points at Iowa.
“When you’re a fifth-year senior who has made over 300 3s he probably doesn’t need as much,” McCaffery said, “but I gave it to him anyway. I had a long talk with him and just reminded him how great he is, who he is, what our team needs, and just go out and play with that kind of confidence and sort of reckless abandon, while at the same time running the show.”
Iowa played good defense. Bohannon played good defense. He took the scoring reins from backcourt mate CJ Fredrick after halftime.
“He’s a gamer,” Fredrick said. “Everybody knows that.”
Fredrick scored 17 of his 19 points in the first 20 minutes when Iowa built a 45-36 lead. He made 3 of 4 treys in the half. It was a carry-over from his play at Minnesota last Friday when he scored 16 points after halftime and a career-high total of 23.
Fredrick made a last-second jumper to give Iowa a nine-point lead at the break.
Iowa’s Luka Garza had 18 points, ending his streak of 18 straight Big Ten games with at least 20 points.
Northwestern closed to within 47-45, but Iowa scored the next seven points, the last five from Bohannon on two free throws and a 3-pointer.
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The ‘Cats never again got closer than four points, and Iowa’s lead grew as large as 18.
Nance had a career-high 21 points.
Iowa’s next game is Saturday at 1 p.m. (CT) at No. 14 Rutgers (7-1, 3-1), an 81-76 winner Tuesday at home against Purdue despite the absence of their leading scorer this season, Ron Harper Jr. (23.4 points per game), because of an ankle injury.
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