Iowa knocked off #7 seed Cincinnati 79-72 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday afternoon and...
NEVER A DOUBT!
OK, maybe a few doubts. Like when Iowa started dismally and trailed Cincinnati 18-5 in the early going. Or even late when Iowa was nursing a lead and Cincinnati, previously ice cold from deep for pretty much the entire game (they were 4/20 from long range at one point), started draining ridiculous 3s and Iowa struggled to get the ball inbounded and visions of the Nebraska meltdown started to creep into the back of our heads. But Iowa slayed those demons. Joe Wieskamp drained two free throws, Nicholas Baer threw home a dunk after Iowa broke the Cincy press, and Jordan Bohannon and Tyler Cook each went one and one at the free throw line in the final minute. Collapse averted. Dancing shoes still firmly affixed to our feet. LET'S GOOOOO.
After that rotten start to the game, Iowa clawed back into things in the first half thanks to Joe Wieskamp and Luka Garza, who each had 10 points for Iowa in the opening 20 minutes. Wieskamp was magnificent in this game, finishing with 19 points on 6/8 shooting, including 4/6 from the 3-point line. His made 3 with 6:44 to go tied the game at 59-all. His made 3 with 1:47 to go extended Iowa's lead to 70-64, giving us much needed breathing room -- and the belief that Iowa might actually pull off this comeback and win the game.
Early onions. pic.twitter.com/5Ov9I3RnpF— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 22, 2019
Luka Garza was also brilliant, scoring a game-high 20 points on 8/11 shooting while also hauling in a game-high 7 rebounds. He was an efficient scoring machine in the post and was a critical part of Iowa's offense, especially as they were clawing their way out of their big early deficit in the first half and early in the second half. He won the match-up with Cincy's bigs, fouling out Nysier Brooks with four minutes to go. His contributions were particularly important because Tyler Cook struggled with fouls all game (he picked up two early in the first half and a third early in the second half). He also struggled to find his touch, scoring just 5 points on 1/9 shooting from the floor. He did grab five rebounds (including a key defensive rebound late) and dished a team-high four assists. Hopefully his scoring touch can return in Iowa's next game.
Jordan Bohannon gave Iowa 13 points on 5/10 shooting, including number of crafty finishes on drives to the basket. I don't recall seeing Bohannon finish that well near the basket ever in his Iowa career, let alone in the biggest game he's played in at Iowa. That more than made up for his 2/4 shooting from the free throw line and 1/4 display from outside. The one three that he did hit, though, was an absolute bomb:
Jordan Bohannon FROM THE NEXT COUNTY! pic.twitter.com/PMLO6AwL8v— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 22, 2019
Iowa also got great minutes off the bench from Nicholas Baer, who played his sixth man role perfectly in this game, scoring 10 points on 4/6 shooting, while also grabbing four rebounds and handing out an assist. His 3-pointer with 5:47 to go gave Iowa a 62-59 lead they would not relinquish for the rest of the game. Baer isn't ready to end his Iowa career just yet.
And we're not ready to call time on this Iowa season, either. Things looked grim after that start, but Iowa kept chipping away at Bearcat lead and kept it at a manageable distance. And then the offense absolutely caught fire in the second half.
Iowa advances 79-72. Garza led the Hawkeyes with 20 points and 7 rebounds. They shot 65% from the floor and 64% from three in the second half.— Jerry Palm (@jppalmCBS) March 22, 2019
That molten-hot shooting display led to 48 Iowa points after the break, which is what Iowa used to turn a 5-point halftime deficit into a 7-point victory. Iowa became the first team all season to beat Cincinnati after trailing at halftime.
You make sure they remember FOREVER the day they played the Hawkeyes. pic.twitter.com/1qFKhmPbPp— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) March 22, 2019
WE ARE THE ONE IN 23 AND ONE.
For the game Iowa shot 54.7% from the floor, including an absolutely scorching 50% (11/22) from 3-point range. That works out to 1.18 points per possession for the Hawkeyes, which is *checks notes* very, very good offense. The shots started falling and Iowa started winning. That's a combination we'll take every single time.
So there's only one thing to do at this point, and that's to keep MOVING OUR FEET
GO MARCH MADNESS AWESOME