Iowa men’s basketball defeats Bethune-Cookman in 12th straight season-opening win

The Hawkeyes held the Wildcats to 27 percent shooting in the second half.


Grace Smith

Iowa forward Patrick McCaffery shoots a 3-pointer during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Bethune-Cookman at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. McCaffery shot 3-of-5 in 3-pointers. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 89-58.

Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

The Iowa men’s basketball team used a balanced scoring attack on its way to a dominant, season-opening, 89-58 victory over the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats on Monday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. 

All five Iowa starters scored in double digits and junior guard Tony Perkins recorded a game-high 16 points as Iowa won its first game of the year for the 12th straight season. 

Iowa led from the get-go and was up, 54-35, at the half before the Hawkeyes went on an 11-0 run over the first 5:52 of the second stanza. 

Defense turns up the heat. 

After his team’s 118-72 exhibition win over Truman State on Oct. 31, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said defensive consistency would be a focus leading up to Monday’s matchup with the Wildcats.

RELATED: Iowa men’s basketball set to open regular season Monday against Bethune-Cookman

The Hawkeyes showed improvement in that area after a week of prep. Iowa held Bethune-Cookman to 34.8 percent shooting overall and 27 percent in the final 20 minutes. 

“We did a good job with our ball-screen defense,” McCaffery said after Monday’s victory. “We had our defense back in transition, didn’t give up anything easy there.

“… [Bethune-Cookman] runs good stuff. [Head coach Reggie Theus] has been around. They run a lot of NBA sets, and he’s whistling and calling different things and they’re executing their stuff. So you gotta guard for a lot of times longer than eight or nine seconds. You gotta guard for 28 seconds and finish the possession off and get a rebound. We did a good job of that.”

Balanced offensive attack

Offensively, Iowa shot 50 percent from the field on the night and converted on 20 of their 34 field goal attempts in the first half. More important to McCaffery, and his players, however, was the Hawkeyes’ 25 assists on 34 made field goals. 

“You know, we’re an unselfish basketball team,” said senior forward Filip Rebraca, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds. “You know, we had 25 assists, I think tonight and that just shows that we can share it. 

“It doesn’t matter, you know, one night it’s going to be Tony [Perkins] who has the most points, another night it’s going to be Kris [Murray], Patrick [McCaffery], Payton [Sandfort], me. It’s who’s hot,  who’s feeling good that night. We feel like all of us can contribute and chip in and it’s just gonna be a different leading-scorer every night.”. 

Ulis impressive in return

Monday’s season-opener marked Hawkeye junior guard Ahron Ulis’s first action of the year after he was suspended from the exhibition game because of his role in an Oct. 2 altercation in Iowa City.

Ulis was the first player off the bench against Bethune-Cookman and tallied four points, four rebounds, and three assists in 22 minutes of play.

“I thought Ahron was terrific on both ends,” McCaffery said. “Driving the ball, defensively, sticks his nose in there on the glass, always has. He’s not a mistake guy, played like a veteran, that’s what we need him to do.”

Connor stays hot

Hawkeye graduate guard Connor McCaffery kept his hot 3-point shooting streak going on Monday night.

After a 4-for-5 performance from outside the arc in the exhibition game, the 6-foot-6, 215-pounder went 2-for-3 from deep in the season-opener. 

Last season, Connor shot the three at a 33.8-percent clip, knocking down 25 of 72 attempts. 

Up next

Iowa’s second regular season game is set for Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. when the Hawkeyes will take on North Carolina A&T at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.  

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