AMES — Jordan Bohannon is a provocateur, and doesn’t hesitate to admit it.
“I’m always about trolling,” the Iowa senior guard said Thursday night at Hilton Coliseum. “I’m always about getting a little stuff stirred up.”
Legendary baseball pitcher Dizzy Dean famously said it ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up. Well, Bohannon could blow a kiss late in Iowa’s 84-68 win over Iowa State — when did Hawkeye athletics become a moving kiss-cam? — and he could sign his shoes and leave them on one of Hilton’s free-throw lines with a message.
It ain’t trollin’ if you can back it up.
“To ISU: Thanks for Memz :)” Bohannon wrote on one of the shoes, then autographed it. The shoes sat on the court long enough for photographers to record it for posterity, then were returned to the Iowa locker room. Iowa State didn’t want them for some reason.
A present from Jordan Bohannon.
"To ISU: Thanks for the memz" pic.twitter.com/KaSIte2Gbo
— On Iowa (@GazetteOnIowa) December 13, 2019
This game meant the world to the Hawkeyes, and they played like it. Fran McCaffery had never coached a winner here. The Iowa program hadn’t won here in its last eight tries.
You knew Bohannon was amped when he got in a Twitter back-and-forth Wednesday with former Cyclone star Georges Niang, now of the NBA’s Utah Jazz. Bohannon started it by calling Ames “Lames.”
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Niang — never afraid to troll himself when it comes to the Hawkeyes, and a kiss-blower himself in the Cyclones’ 2014 win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena — responded with put-downs.
“It’s all good fun,” Bohannon said after this game. “I respect Georges Niang a lot, and hopefully he respects us a little more after tonight.”
As for the shoes, that idea was put in Bohannon’s head by former Iowa State star guard Monte Morris.
See, Hawkeye and Cyclone players talk to each other. They even become friends. Quite a concept, right? Anyway, Morris had promised to leave his shoes at half-court of Carver after the 2016 ISU-Iowa game there if the Cyclones won. But they didn’t, and Bohannon remembered the threat.
“So I had to do it, right?” Bohannon said.
“After last night when Georges Niang said something, I texted my brother. ‘Is this a good idea? Is this too classless?’”
To Hawkeye World, it was a fun twist to a fabulous evening. To Cyclone Country, as an indignity it didn’t begin to compare to the way their team got thumped.
The Hawkeyes’ offense came and went, but when it was good it was very good. Bohannon had 12 points, and Iowa’s other four starters scored at least 11. Their defense was a constant, excellent for the second time in four nights.
“We pretty much dominated the game for 38 minutes,” said Iowa guard Connor McCaffery. “We really did.”
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Iowa State had a 7-0 run to pull within 44-37 with 16:27 left, and the “Here we go again” murmurs had to be echoing across both fan bases. Iowa led by 20 points in the second half here four years ago and lost.
But McCaffery, without hesitation, nailed a 3-pointer to push the lead back up to 10 points, and it was double-digits the rest of the way.
“I’m sure I’ve made more (3-pointers) than last year as a whole,” McCaffery said. He has, nine this season to six over 34 games a season ago.
Freshman CJ Fredrick made three 3-pointers. Sophomore Joe Wieskamp had his second-straight terrific game. And, big man Luka Garza was Luka Garza, with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Garza appeared to be in excruciating pain on the court late in the game after taking an elbow from Wieskamp. He said it was because he was told he’d lost a tooth and he was “freaking out.”
The tooth was shoved back in his mouth, “a little loose. I still got it, though.”
Garza wasn’t going anywhere. Is Bohannon? He insisted Wednesday that he doesn’t know if his season will continue or if he just played his last game of the season and will take a redshirt to come back next season, presumably in good health.
“I think this one meant a lot to him,” Wieskamp said.
As for the shoes, “I’m not really sure the significance of it,” Wieskamp said. “But he can do what he wants.”
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