By Pat Harty
AMES, Iowa – Jordan Bohannon had it scripted perfectly.
He would miss one of Iowa’s first 10 games, which proved to the Cal Poly game on Nov. 24th, and that would allow him to face Iowa State in the 11th game without exhausting his eligibility for next season.
Bohannon faced the Cyclones on Thursday at Hilton Coliseum, and if it truly was his final game for this season, he went out in style, helping Iowa to an 84-68 victory in a place where Iowa hadn’t won since 2003.
When the game ended, Bohannon took off his shoes and wrote “To ISU, thanks for the memories” before leaving them on the court. He also blew a kiss to the fans before leaving the floor.
“It was all in good fun,” Bohannon said. “That was just something to get them a little wired up. I’m always about trolling. I’m always about getting little stuff stirred up. That’ something I said to my teammates that I was going to do if we pulled out a win tonight.”
Bohannon said he came up with the idea to leave his shoes on the court after having interacted with former Iowa State player Georges Niang on Twitter on Wednesday. Bohannon also was inspired by former Iowa State point guard Monte Morris, who apparently had threatened to leave his shoes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena after a game a few years back.
“I texted my brother and said, is this a good idea or is this too classless,” Bohannon said. “That’s just what makes college sports so great, little stuff like that. I won’t be back in this place and that’s something Iowa fans can hold on to a little bit.”
Bohannon said he still is taking his situation day by day and he didn’t give a time table for a final decision.
Iowa has nine days off before its next game against Cincinnati on Dec. 21st at the United Center in Chicago.
Bohannon had hip surgery in late May but now his other hip is reportedly bothering him to where it might require surgery.
“Obviously, we’re playing really good basketball now, so we’ll see how the next couple days go,” Bohannon said. “Like after finals, if I’m feeling good there’s a good chance I might still be able to play.
“I’m going to enjoy this tonight and worry about that next week.”
Iowa never trailed in Thursday’s game and dominated the first half, leading by as many as 21 points, and then withstood Iowa State’s comeback to begin the second half.
All five of Iowa’s starters scored in double figures, led by junior center Luka Garza with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Garza had a tooth knocked loose in the second half after colliding with teammate Joe Wieskamp, but that still didn’t stop Garza from returning to the game.
“We all know the significance of this rivalry,” Garza said. “Obviously, coach hadn’t won here and we hadn’t won here eight straight times. And we all knew that coming in to today. And we had a big focus that we were going to end that streak today and we did."
Iowa State started the second half on a 13-5 scoring run and cut the deficit to 44-37 on a basket by Solomon Young with 16 minutes, 27 seconds left to play.
But then Iowa countered with a 21-6 scoring run that started with sophomore guard Connor McCaffery making a 3-point basket.
"It's a great feeling," Connor McCaffery said. "We came out and we pretty much dominated the game for 38 minutes. I mean we really did. They had that one run to start the second half, but other than that, that was all us.
"I think we had a really good game plan and I think we executed it very well."
Redshirt freshman guard C.J. Fredrick made a trey that expanded Iowa’s lead to 63-43 and forced Iowa State coach Steve Prohm to call a timeout with 11:30 remaining.
The Cyclones overcame a 20-point halftime deficit to defeat Iowa in 2015 at Hilton Coliseum, but that Iowa State team also had star point guard Monte Morris running the show.
Iowa State has another standout point guard in sophomore Tyrese Haliburton, and he certainly had his moments in Thursday’s game.
But for most of the game, Iowa State’s offense was stagnant and out of sync.
Iowa improved to 8-3 with the victory, while Iowa State fell to 6-4.
It is widely assumed that Bohannon will now shut it down after having played in 10 games in order to be eligible for a medical redshirt for next season.
Bohannon could play in up to 10 games in the first semester and still receive a medical redshirt.
That seems to have been his plan since the start of the season, with Iowa State possibly being his last stand for the season.
And what a stand it was as Iowa dominated the game pretty much from start to finish, turning Hilton Magic into Hilton Tragic.
The home team had won 14 of the last 16 games in the series, dating back to 2004.
Wieskamp had a solid all-around game with 13 points, eight rebounds and two steals, while Bohannon finished with 12 points and five rebounds.
Iowa bolted to a 14-4 lead, thanks mostly to four 3-point baskets by four different players, and then kept building on the lead until the Cyclones made a late run right before halftime.
Freshman point guard Joe Toussaint made a traditional 3-point play that expanded Iowa’s lead to 28-10 with 9:57 left in the first half.
Iowa State then answered with a 6-2 scoring run, but then Iowa answered back with a 7-0 scoring run and took a 37-16 lead on a Garza basket with three minutes left before halftime.
Iowa State then closed the first half on an 8-2 scoring run that trimmed the deficit to 39-24 at halftime and also shifted the momentum ever so slightly.
Iowa dominated most of the first half despite Bohannon only making 1-of-8 field goal attempts.
It helped that the Cyclones only made 11-of-32 field-goal attempts in the first half, including just 2-of-13 from 3-point range.