No. 24 Iowa staves off a spirited upset attempt from one of the worst teams in men's college basketball.
Iowa completed an undefeated non-conference schedule by outlasting the Bryant Bulldogs, 72-67, on Saturday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Tyler Cook led the way with 19 points, and Jordan Bohannon hit five of his 12 three-pointers en route to 17 points of his own.
- BRYANT FACT! Bryant falls to 3-8 on the season, and went 3-28 last season.
By all accounts, the game shouldn't have been anywhere near that close. Iowa was favored by 29.5 points, and KenPom.com projected a final score of 93-65. Alas, Iowa's largest lead was only 12 points, at 43-31 late in the first half, and the Bulldogs responded with a 10-0 run. Iowa never brought the lead back to double digits, and Bryant even tied the game at 66-66 with 3:12 left in the game.
- BRYANT FACT! Bryant came into the game ranked 335th out of 353 D-1 men's college basketball teams in the Ken Pomeroy rankings.
Iowa's defense clamped down in the final minutes, as Bryant missed its last seven shots from the field, but the game could have been put away to a greater degree. Iowa missed five consecutive free throws down the stretch (three by Cook, two by Joe Wieskamp (?!)) and allowed three offensive rebounds in the last two minutes to the diminutive Bryant team.
- BRYANT FACT! Bryant's previous games included a 22-point loss to Columbia and a 103-61 loss to Yale.
Nicholas Baer was a difference-maker. He blocked five shots to increase his season total to 18 — nobody else on the team has more than seven (Garza) — and added two steals to go along with his 12 points on the offensive end. He was also the only Hawkeye other than Bohannon to make more than one three-pointer.
- BRYANT FACT! Bryant was ranked dead last in the nation in 3-point defense, at 45.5% allowed.
Let's be clear: the Bulldogs played the game of their lives and absolutely menaced the Hawkeyes, even without taking a lead after 5-3. That was a significant outperformance of their expectations. That all said, if Iowa plays like this against any Big Ten team (aside from maybe Illinois, who is god-awful this season), it will lose. And probably handily.
But this goes into the same win column as all the rest, so there you go. Now let us never speak of this game again.