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Iowa brought it in their first game against top competition

NCAA Basketball: Empire Classic-Oregon at Iowa Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Behind impressive free throw shooting and solid defense, the Iowa Hawkeyes’ (3-0) add their first feather to the 2018-19 season with a 77-69 win over the #13 Oregon Ducks (2-1) in their return to Madison Square Garden.

It was a sleepy opening minutes after the raucous crowd for Syracuse/Connecticut filed out, and the Hawkeyes capitalized on Oregon’s lack of energy by sprinting to an 8-0 lead en route to a wire-to-wire victory.

The story, to be honest, was the defense. Iowa looked ready to play throughout the opening period, where they held Oregon to 25.8% shooting, and Tyler Cook was regularly clapping his hands in anticipation of the defensive possession. The only downside to the energy was the fouls.

One by one, Fran McCaffery sat players on the bench with two fouls. First it was Isaiah Moss who hit a couple threes to help Iowa jump to the lead. Then it was Joe Wieskamp who, once again found himself on the wrong end of a charge call. Connor McCaffery was next after a couple ticky-tack ones. Then Garza. Then Cook.

At 6:30 to play, it felt like Iowa had little hope to hold onto their four-point lead at 26-22. Especially when the man to replace him was Riley Till. (Sorry Riley)

That’s when things got crazy. One of Till’s first plays was a block for which he didn’t get credit. Ryan Kriener did some really mean things to Bol Bol. The defense looked incredibly connected in a zone Fran rode into halftime. Iowa drained some threes - they were 8/17 in the half. Oregon closed it down the stretch but Iowa was able to extend the lead by seven points to 39-28.

Crisis averted.

For now.

In the second half, Iowa struggled to get any offense going. Oregon clamped down their defense but fell victim to the same fate as Iowa in the first: foul trouble.

A Tyler Cook dunk. A Wieskamp three. Another really mean thing from Kriener. And a three from Luka Garza which all but put it away were the only four buckets Iowa made in the half.

Interspersed throughout was a steady stream of free throws, where Iowa was able to mitigate any long scoring drought. They finished 29/33 on the game with 28/30 coming in the second half.

It was a true team effort as everyone who played made an impact. When Jordan Bohannon was declared the player of the game it seemed a he led the team in scoring and assists with 16 points (3/10 shooting and 9/10 from the line) and 3.

Garza and Kriener joined Bohannon in double figures with 12 and 11 respectively. Tyler Cook had nine points and 10 boards to lead the team but it feels like he is coming into his own with a slightly more perimeter-oriented role, despite the three turnovers.

And yeah, those weren’t really a problem, as Iowa had just 14 on the game. They only forced eight out of the Ducks but six were steals which seems good.

Anyways, the Hawks will play the Connecticut Huskies in the championship everyone thought would be the consolation tomorrow at 5:30 PM Central if everything runs on schedule. The game is above Penn Station so it won’t - we’ll see you around 6:00 PM.

Let’s get a chip.