Cook’s 28 points not enough for Iowa’s first B1G win
IOWA CITY, Iowa – A pair of Big Ten teams met Tuesday night in Iowa City, each riding a five-game winning streak into the contest. One team played much better than the other, even if though the final score suggests a back-and-forth slugfest.
The Michigan Wolverines beat the Iowa Hawkeyes by a final score of 75-68 to improve to 2-1 in Big Ten play. In reality, they played a lot better than a seven-point margin of victory.
The Hawkeyes simply did not defend well enough to come away with a conference victory, and especially hindered their chances of winning in the first half.
Michigan went on two separate scoring runs that effectively put the game out of Iowa’s reach. One run was good for a 19-4 Wolverine advantage. Another was 13-3.
No matter how close the Hawkeyes got, they could never get back over the hump. As cliché as it sounds, that’s exactly what happened on a handful of occasions.
When Iowa cut the lead to eight, Michigan would hit a big shot and bang out a 9-0 run of its own. The largest Michigan lead in the first half got as high as 18.
Iowa gave Michigan too many open looks in the fist half. The Wolverines were 18-of-29 (62.1 percent) from the field and 8-of-15 (53.3 percent) from three-point range.
Off the bench, Zavier Simpson provided a huge spark for the Wolverines, knocking down four field goals and two three-pointers in the first half, leading the team with 11 points at the break. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman also hit a pair of threes in critical spots.
At the half, Iowa trailed 48-36. It felt like more.
Clawing their way back, Iowa got energy boosts from Cordell Pemsl, Maishe Dailey, and Tyler Cook, and again got as close as eight points from tying the game.
Michigan went on another 9-0 run. This was with nearly seven minutes still to play in the contest.
After that, Michigan scored just four points and made just one field goal – a last-minute breakaway dunk by Charles Matthews. The 71-54 Michigan advantage with six minutes to play ended up being just a 75-68 victory. The 14-4 run was too little too late for Iowa.
While the defense was lacking, so too was the Iowa offense. Only one aspect of the offense as working on Tuesday night, and that was Tyler Cook.
Cook scored 28 points and grabbed eight rebounds – both game highs – to keep the Hawkeyes from getting blasted off their home court. Cook was 10-of-15 from the field and 8-of-11 from the free throw line.
Cook was attacking the rim all game, and Michigan had no one who could match his size and ability on the block. Cook led the Hawkeyes with 34 minutes, leaving the floor just for quick breathers.
Simpson and Abdur-Rahkman led a foursome of Wolverines who finished in double figures. Simpson – who averaged 4.4 PPG in the first 15 contests – and Abdur-Rahkman finished with 15 points each, while Charles Matthews and Isaiah Livers scored 14 and 13, respectively.
Simpson and Livers contributed to Michigan’s 37-17 advantage in bench points.
Aside from Cook, nothing seemed to go right for the Hawkeyes. Jordan Bohannon was 4-of-7 from three, but missed all four of his attempts from inside the arc. Bohannon was the only other Hawkeye in double figures with 12.
Dailey, fresh off a hot finish to 2017, was unable to get into a rhythm against the Wolverines, finishing with just five points in 16 minutes. Luka Garza also managed just six points in 21 minutes.
If there’s a positive to build off, the Hawkeyes only lost by seven on a night they were undeniably outplayed. Shots weren’t falling, defense was a step behind, and Michigan was constantly going on scoring runs.
Even still, the Hawkeyes kept it close on effort alone. The heart was there for all 40 minutes. The challenge now is to channel that into production.
Now 0-3 in the Big Ten, the Hawkeyes (9-7) get their next chance at a conference win on Thursday when the Ohio State Buckeyes visit CHA. Tipoff is set for 6:00pm CT on ESPNU.