Iowa freshmen shine in Iowa's 87-75 NIT win vs. South Dakota

Iowa freshmen shine in Iowa's 87-75 NIT win vs. South Dakota

(AP) Iowa viewed the NIT as a chance in part for its youngsters to get their first taste of the postseason.

The Hawkeyes survived the first round thanks to standout performances from three of its most promising freshmen.

Freshman Jordan Bohannon scored 19 points with 11 assists, fellow newcomer Tyler Cook scored 18 with eight rebounds and Iowa opened the NIT with an 87-75 win over South Dakota on Wednesday.

“I go to those guys because they produce. I don’t consider those freshmen anymore anyway,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.

Senior Peter Jok had 20 to lead the Hawkeyes (19-14), one of four top seeds in the 32-team event.

But for about 30 minutes Iowa couldn’t quite shake South Dakota, which excelled at crashing the offensive glass and getting to the free-throw line. The Hawkeyes finally took a double-digit lead on Ahmad Wagner’s layup with 8:31 left, and Wagner’s layup a minute later made it 68-54.

“Right when we needed it,” McCaffery said.

Iowa, one of the last four teams left out of the NCAA Tournament, got 59 points from first-year-players – with Isaiah Moss adding 16.

Matt Mooney had 23 points for the Coyotes (22-12), who earned an NIT bid after winning the Summit League regular-season crown.

“I felt really good at halftime,” South Dakota coach Craig Smith said. “We just had some inexperienced plays out there.”

BIG PICTURE

Iowa: The Hawkeyes are one of the few teams that could argue that the NIT might actually be better for them than the NCAA Tournament. Iowa started four underclassmen nearly all year, and a long run in this tournament would give the Hawkeyes valuable experience heading into 2017-18 – when a trip to the NCAA Tournament will again be expected.

South Dakota: After finishing with a losing record in ’15-16, the Coyotes won the conference title this year. Losses in the conference tournament and the NIT shouldn’t take away from the fact that South Dakota improved greatly under Smith, now in his third season. “Played super hard. Just made some mistakes,” Smith said.

J-BO ON THE GO

In his last two games, Bohannon has averaged 21.5 points and 10.5 assists – and his 3 with just over a minute left made it 82-70. However Iowa sets its roster in the next year and beyond, there’s little doubt that Bohannon will be a key part of it. “He really had to work, especially in the first half. But he just kept going,” McCaffery said. “He’s a tough guy, and he’s also really smart.”

DICKERSON RETURNS

Trey Dickerson, a point guard, played one season at Iowa before transferring to South Dakota. He had 10 points and three rebounds in 21 minutes.

THE NUMBERS

South Dakota grabbed 12 offensive rebounds and went 18 of 25 from the free-throw line. But Iowa shot 57 percent from the field and 10 of 23 on 3s. … Tyler Flack had 16 points for the Coyotes. … After turning the ball over 10 times in the first half, Iowa cut that number down by four in the second half. … Iowa drew nearly 13,000 to the 15,000-seat Carver Hawkeye Arena, an impressive number considering both its disappointing loss to Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament and the fact that its students were on spring break.

UP NEXT

Iowa hosts TCU in the second round on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. CT.

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