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Iowa Basketball Squeezes Orange in ACC-B1G Challenge

December 3, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

BOX SCORE

Iowa visited a historic venue Tuesday night and put on a clinic. The Hawkeyes cruised by home-standing Syracuse, 68-54, at the Carrier Dome.

While the building has witnessed years of classic games, this was not one of them, particularly for the hosts. They shot 19 of 52 (36.5 percent) from the floor and committed 16 turnovers.

Junior center Luka Garza paced Iowa with game highs in points (23) and rebounds (9). Senior guard Jordan Bohannon complemented that effort with 17 points aided by five three-pointers.

The Hawkeyes improved to 6-2 on the season. Syracuse fell to 4-4.

The visitors held a 30-29 lead at halftime despite shooting 11 of 32 from the field, including 5 of 18 from behind the arc. That changed when they attacked the Orangemen’s tricky 2-3 matchup zone after the intermission.

Iowa knocked down 15 of 29 field-goal attempts in the final 20 minutes. Bohannon canned four of his treys in that stretch. The Hawkeyes led by as many as 19 points.

Their victory was made even more impressive when considering they played without two key pieces of the rotation. Starting guard CJ Fredrick (quad) and reserve forward Cordell Pemsl (back) sat out with injuries.

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery expected Fredrick back for Friday’s Big Ten opener at Michigan. He was encouraged with how his team looked even while short-handed.

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“I don’t know that we made many (halftime) adjustments,” he said. “I thought our defense was really good in the second half, in particular (Joe) Wieskamp on (Elijah) Hughes. Joe really locked in on defending him.”

Hughes came into the action leading Syracuse in scoring at 19.0 points per game. He managed just 10 on Tuesday, shooting 3 of 13 from the floor.

The Hawkeyes began a seven-game stretch against high-major programs last week at the Las Vegas Invitational. They upset then-No. 12 Texas Tech there before running out of gas in the championship against San Diego State. Traveling all the way to the other side of the country and upsetting Syracuse showed some grit.

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“From a coaching perspective, you’re always proud of your team,” McCaffery said. “We got home late. We’ve got a couple of guys hurt. But we stayed together; we stuck to the game plan. I was just really pleased with our ability to stay the course tonight.”

The Orange tied the game at 33-33 early in the second half but Iowa responded. It steadily built the lead to 11 points with 12 minutes remaining. They pushed it to 18 at the 8:57 mark.

After turning the ball over eight times in the first half, the Hawkeyes committed just one after the break. That didn’t occur until the final minutes when victory had been secured.

The lack of bodies required more playing time from the guys who suited up Tuesday. Bohannon and Wieskamp both played 37 minutes, while Garza and Connor McCaffery each logged 36.

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Wieskamp helped Iowa during its cold-shooting first half. He dropped in 3 of 5 three-point tries and scored nine of his 13 points before the break.

Connor McCaffery and Wieskamp each handed out a game-high four assists. Wieskamp also delivered three steals and matched Garza with nine rebounds.

Senior Ryan Kriener drew the start in Fredrick’s absence, the third of his career. The Hawkeyes received solid minutes from graduate transfer guard Bakari Evelyn, who scored three points and was +11.

Riley Till saw the biggest bump in minutes, playing 10. He grabbed a couple of key offensive rebounds in the first half.

In a return to his home state of New York, freshman point guard Joe Toussaint overcame some early yips to score five points, grab three rebounds, hand out two assists and swipe a pair of steals in 13 minutes. He finished +7.

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