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Game Report: The Hawkeyes Finally Finish at Iowa State

December 12, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

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AMES, Iowa – Iowa State delivered its run. And for the first time in a long time, rival Iowa turned it away Thursday here at Hilton Coliseum. The Hawkeyes ended an eight-game skid at the venue dating back to 2003 with an 84-68 victory.

The visitors led by 21 points in the first half before the Cyclones cut it to seven early in the second half. Connor McCaffery calmly hit a three-pointer on Iowa’s next trip down the floor and Iowa led by double digits the rest of the way. It enjoyed a 22-point bulge halfway through the second half.

McCaffery pointed to defense being the key to victory. Fellow guard C.J. Fredrick and center Luka Garza credited the team’s toughness. Teammates Joe Wieskamp and Ryan Kriener, both in-state guys, felt the difference was Iowa’s will.

They all were correct. It took everything Iowa had to win in a place that caused it nightmares for 16 seasons.

The rivalry is healthy. That includes the smack talk between former Iowa State standout Georges Niang and Hawkeye point guard Jordan Bohannon on Wednesday night.

Bohannon fueled it more when he left his shoes on the Hilton court after Thursday’s game. He wrote on them, “To ISU, thanks for the memories.” It was in response to former Iowa State point guard Monte Morris saying a few years ago that he was going to place his sneakers on the Carver-Hawkeye Arena floor after winning in Iowa City.

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“It’s all in good fun,” Bohannon said. “I have a lot of respect for Georges Niang. I hope he respects us more after tonight.”

The media surrounded Bohannon after the game. The questions ranged from his shoe game to blowing a kiss to the Cyclones students to his impending decision.

The senior from Marion (IA) Linn-Mar has played the maximum 10 games he can and still retain a redshirt this season. A hip surgically repaired in May has been barking to the point where he can’t practice. His other hip has been hurting. If you’ve watched him, you’ve seen the struggle.

But the surprising Hawkeyes moved to 8-3 with another big road victory. What looked like a rebuilding year has the potential to be one ending in the NCAA Tournament. This outfit has been connected and locked in on the game plans.

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Garza has proven unstoppable so far, torching the Cyclones with 21 points and 11 rebounds, his sixth double double of the season. He’s led the Big Ten in scoring and ranked among its top rebounders all year.

Wieskamp has played great defense and found his scoring the last two contests. He contributed 13 points and eight boards Thursday.

McCaffery and Fredrick combined for 24 points against Iowa State. Freshman point guard Joe Toussaint continued getting more comfortable with six points and a team-best four assists Thursday. Kriener added eight points and six rebounds off the bench.

Pieces are there. Now we wait to see if Bohannon remains one of them.

He called it a tough decision Thursday. He spoke about waiting until late next week after finals to see how he’s feeling.

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Iowa is off until Dec. 21 against Cincinnati in Chicago. He has some time to reflect, weigh the pros and cons.

If he pushes through and the injury becomes worse, his career could be over and he’ll be on the sidelines anyway. But he could continue on and experience the highlight of his already impressive career.

It’s hard to say where Iowa will be without out him. It’s playing well without Jack Nunge and Patrick McCaffery.

It also won with Bohannon shooting 2 of 12 from the floor and turning the ball over three times with three assists Thursday. But make no mistake, his presence was felt.

No matter what happens, Bohannon and the Hawkeyes have removed the Hilton gorilla off their backs. They led the game from start to finish and dominated on both ends of the floor.

They’re good. They’re tough. They’re intriguing.

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