The Daily Iowan

Hawkeyes display defensive dominance in win over Panthers

Jordan Bohannon shut down A.J. Green, as Iowa cruised to a big win in the final Hy-Vee Classic.

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Hawkeyes display defensive dominance in win over Panthers

Iowa's Jordan Bohannon guards UNI's A.J. Green during the Iowa/UNI men's basketball game at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Panthers, 77-54. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Jordan Bohannon guards UNI's A.J. Green during the Iowa/UNI men's basketball game at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Panthers, 77-54. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Lily Smith

Iowa's Jordan Bohannon guards UNI's A.J. Green during the Iowa/UNI men's basketball game at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Panthers, 77-54. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Lily Smith

Lily Smith

Iowa's Jordan Bohannon guards UNI's A.J. Green during the Iowa/UNI men's basketball game at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Panthers, 77-54. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

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DES MOINES, Ia. – A.J. Green is far and away Northern Iowa’s most prolific scorer, but that wasn’t true when he played Iowa Saturday.

The only Panther averaging double figures, scoring 15.8 points a game entering the contest, Green struggled to get anything going as the Hawkeyes put the clamps on its final Hy-Vee Classic opponent.

In its 77-54 win over the Panthers, Iowa figured out how to truly lock a team down, forcing Northern Iowa to shoot just 36 percent with a 21 percent mark from 3-point range.

Jordan Bohannon turned up the intensity when dealt the task of guarding Green. He didn’t let Green get loose and in the rare times that Green was open, he usually couldn’t convert.

Green finished the game with 2 points on 1-of-8 shooting, while also going 0-of-4 from beyond the arc.

“I knew I wanted to pressure him tonight and try to make his looks as tough as possible,” Bohannon said. “I thought I did a pretty good job of that to start the game and hopefully got him a little frustrated. Just make really tough baskets if he was going to make a basket.”

Perhaps it was Bohannon’s revenge from when Green hit a game-winner over Bohannon’s Linn-Mar team in high school, which eliminated it from the playoffs.

Whatever the case, it was clear the Hawkeyes found a way to stall the Panthers’ star.

“That game will always have an imprint in my brain for the rest of my life, so I think anytime I go against A.J. Green, it’s going to be a little bad blood,” Bohannon said.

In the first half alone, Iowa forced Northern Iowa to a 21 percent clip, including a 3-of-23 start from the field, along with forcing 7 turnovers.

Iowa held the Panthers to just 18 points in the first half – the fewest points allowed by a Hawkeye team in the first since Northern Iowa put up 16 in 2016.

“We just wanted to disrupt their offense,” forward Nicholas Baer said. “UNI’s really good when they can get into their flow, get into their dribble hand-off stuff. I thought our bigs did a nice job of just kind of disrupting that and Jordan did a good job being a deterrent with the guards as well.”

The victory proved to be a big step forward for Iowa not because of the opponent, but because it showed the kind of defense it can play.

Stellar performances on that end of the floor were few and far between last season, as 3-point defense played a big role in wrecking Iowa’s season.

But after keeping the Panthers to just 21 percent from behind the arc and shutting them down as soon as tip-off came around, it’s evident things have improved.

“I think we’re playing a bit more sure of ourselves,” forward Nicholas Baer said. “We’re not second-guessing ourselves. I think we have a better understanding of our concepts of our rotations, things like that. I think we’re just playing really good team defense right now. If we’re going to be where we want to be in March, we’re going to have to keep playing that way.”

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About the Writer
Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @PeteyRuden

Pete Ruden is the Sports Editor at the DI, where he has worked since the beginning of his college...

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