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Iowa made the most of 7th place game and closed the Cayman Islands Classic with a win

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Iowa Hawkeyes finally notched a win in the Cayman Islands behind strong performances by Tyler Cook and Jordan Bohannon, 95-85, over the UAB Blazers.

Cook and Bohannon had career highs of 29 and 30 points, respectively, on 17/23 shooting (6/8 from three, all Bo) and 19/22 from the free throw line. Iowa made a concerted effort to get the big men involved early, as Luka Garza and Cook had 11 of Iowa’s first 15 points. Garza and Isaiah Moss added 14 and 12, each.

A win is better than a loss, and I certainly feel better about this team leaving the Caymans at 4-2 than 3-3. There’s plenty of time to dissect the overall tournament performance, but here are some thoughts I came away with after today’s W:

  • The offense looks much better when Iowa goes down low to open the game. Not only did they score points and put the Blazers in a precarious foul situation (Iowa went 27/35 - 77.1% - from the line today), but it gave the Iowa guards room to operate. Bohannon’s threes came much more in the flow of the offense than hunting shots early in the shot clock.
  • The defense had stretches where they were much better, despite giving up 85 points. They forced 44.9% shooting from the field and 28% on three. By contesting these shots, however, they allowed 14 offensive rebounds, good for an ORB% of 35.8%. You’d like that last number to be down below 30%, but they were able to manage it well enough.

Lineup-wise, there were a couple interesting tidbits:

  • Iowa went with Cook at the three for extended minutes in both the first and second half. It worked much better in the first, when Bohannon caught fire from deep, and Cook was aggressive from the perimeter. It’s a look I really liked, especially as they had to manage Ahmad Wagner’s absence as well.
  • Iowa closed with a three guard lineup of Bohannon, Moss, and Maishe Dailey. After starting Jack Nunge played only 14 minutes, by my count, and Dailey had nearly 20. Maishe did well, draining a three in the second half and four free throws in the first. Both Wagner (unclear timeline) and Nicholas Baer (hopefully for Virginia Tech) will be welcome additions. I wonder if this is almost Fran’s preference (many games in prior years closed with three guards
  • There were only 10 bench points. The injuries and Christian Williams departure have really thrown this team into a funk. Roles don’t seem particularly well-defined and are ever-changing. A reminder that again, they’re young and not at full strength. They’ll look much different in February than they do now.