The Iowa Hawkeyes used another strong second half to beat Belmont Abbey 96 to 64.
It got off the a pretty fun start, as they sprinted to an 11-0 lead on the back of the Tyler Cook and Luka Garza Show. The big men combined for Iowa’s first 20 points and had three-fourths of the team’s first half points.
Iowa faced many of the same struggles as the first exhibition, as Fran McCaffery struggled to find the perfect replacement for Isaiah Moss throughout much of the first half. The Crusaders were able to dribble drive with relative ease against the larger Iowa team.
After starting Brady Ellingson and Ahmad Wagner, Nicholas Baer, Maishe Dailey, and Dom Uhl all came off the bench for minutes at the 2 in the first half. The backcourt combination which seemed to click most was in the second half when Connor McCaffery ran point with Jordan Bohannon beside him.
Tyler Cook looked like a man possessed throughout much of his time on the floor. While it seemed like Iowa allowed the post-ups to stagnate the movement of the offense, Cook muscled his way to 24 points on 7-12 shooting and 10-16 free throws in 23 minutes. He added 7 rebounds and 4 assists and I particularly liked his assertiveness the handful of times he brought the ball up the court.
Cook’s running mate down low, Luka Garza, tallied 18 points in 21 minutes. He made the first basket of the game (a three!) and went 7-11 the rest of the way. Oh thank heaven! He also demonstrated a real ability to follow shots and be positionally ready (watch him trying to rebound free throws on offense) on his way to 12 boards.
Cordell Pemsl added 13 points off the best (9-12 from the line) with Ellington, Baer, and Jack Nunge each adding 9 points a piece. Baer was a spark plug going into half, as he hit two straight threes to to give Iowa a 44-39 lead at the break.
All and all, another win with clear things to work on. The early returns also suggest Garza and Cook will be a force down low for any opponent they play.