Iowa Men's Basketball

Riley Till Time? Iowa reserve could factor in game at Indiana Thursday

Hawkeyes face Hoosiers without backup forward Cordell Pemsl

Iowa forward Riley Till (20) steals the ball from Michigan State guard Conner George (41) and scores at Carver-Hawkeye A
Iowa forward Riley Till (20) steals the ball from Michigan State guard Conner George (41) and scores at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 24, 2019. (The Gazette)

Junior forward Riley Till has played 32 minutes in Big Ten men’s basketball games this season for Iowa.

Fellow frontcourt player Luka Garza has averaged 32 minutes over Iowa’s 13 conference games.

Till, however, must likely pick up some of the slack Thursday night when the No. 21 Hawkeyes (17-7, 8-5 Big Ten) play at Indiana (15-8, 5-7).

Junior forward Cordell Pemsl, part of Iowa’s usual player rotation, is suspended for this game because of his arrest early Monday morning for driving with a revoked license after an OWI citation last September.

“He recognized immediately he just made a big mistake,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said Wednesday morning. “If you have a suspended license, you don’t drive. It’s pretty simple.

“College kids get hungry, he wanted to go to McDonald’s, it’s very close to his house, he didn’t think anything would happen. So he made a mistake and he’s going to pay a price for it and he’ll be back Friday.”

Like Pemsl, the 6-foot-7 Till is a fourth-year junior from Dubuque Wahlert. He walked on at Iowa and was put on scholarship last May after playing in 16 games for the Hawkeyes last season.

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He made an impact early last season when he had three offensive rebounds, an assist and a blocked shot in six midgame minutes during the Hawkeyes’ win over then-No. 13 Oregon in New York.

“Riley Till will be the next man up and the other guys will just absorb (Pemsl’s) minutes,” McCaffery said.

“Riley’s got good size, he’s bouncy, he’s smart, he really has a keen sense of what we need.

“I have full confidence in him.”

Iowa’s player rotation had already been reduced to eight players because of Jordan Bohannon redshirting this season for hip surgery, Patrick McCaffery sitting out because of health issues, and Jack Nunge’s early-season, season-ending knee injury.

The loss of Nunge cut Iowa’s core of true post players to three: centers Luka Garza and Ryan Kriener and the 6-9 Pemsl, who had knee surgery last season that led to him taking a redshirt year.

Pemsl’s averages of 2.4 points and 2.8 rebounds are lower than those of his freshman (8.9, 5.0) and sophomore (5.7, 4.5) seasons. He averages 11 minutes per game. Garza’s 32-minute average in Big Ten games is a large number for someone who is 6-11 and 265 pounds, so Iowa has needed Pemsl for those 11 minutes.

Now Iowa heads to Indiana without Pemsl. Kriener may need to add a few more minutes to his normal playing time. He’s averaging 19.6 minutes in league games, up five minutes from last season.

Garza and Kriener must contend with Indiana freshman big man Trayce Jackson-Davis, who made Hoosier fans happy last week by declaring he’s returning for his sophomore season.

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The 6-9 Jackson-Davis was recruited by Iowa and many others. He is averaging team-highs of 13.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.

“He’s consistently producing,” McCaffery said. “He plays with energy and skill. He’s got length and size. He’s got a lot of qualities that are really effective.”

Iowa is 1-5 on the road in Big Ten games. That has to change for the better if the Hawkeyes are to hang around on the periphery of the conference title race.

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

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