Iowa men’s basketball wards off second-half comeback, beats Clemson to advance to Emerald Coast Classic championship game

Despite being outscored, 25-14, over the game’s final 7:24, the Hawkeyes hung on to defeat the Tigers, 74-71, and move to 5-0 on the season.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa forward Patrick McCaffery dunks the ball during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and North Carolina A&T at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022. McCaffery scored 21 points in the game. The Hawkeyes defeated the Aggies, 112-71.

Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

The just under 7:30 left on the game clock of Friday’s Emerald Coast Classic semifinal game between No. 25 Iowa and Clemson in Niceville, Florida, the Hawkeye men’s basketball team was in firm control of the contest. 

Iowa was up, 60-46, and was on a 19-9 scoring run.

But, after a Clemson timeout, the Tigers came roaring back. 

A put-back dunk by Clemson’s Hunter Tyson started a 10-0 Tiger run to cut Iowa’s advantage to 60-56. 

With 3:34 left in the game, Clemson would climb all the way back from the previous 14-point deficit to tie it up at 62 apiece. 

With 1:07 remaining, Clemson’s Ian Schieffelin had a chance to knot the score at 66 but missed his second free throw, and Iowa maintained a 66-65 lead. 

Thanks to a 6-of-6 free throw performance from junior guard Tony Perkins over the game’s final 20 seconds Iowa would lead the rest of the way and eke out a 74-71 victory.

“I think that’s what these tournaments are for,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said postgame. “To play really good teams like Clemson, very well coached, very physical, deep, quick. It gives you an opportunity, us and them, to find something out about yourself. You play in a close game, you play in a tight game, they made some big shots coming down the stretch, so did we. 

“We executed, for the most part, we didn’t execute a couple times at both ends, and that’s what helps you get better. So overall, is very pleased with the fact that we were able to maintain our composure and get the win.”

Iowa junior forward Patrick McCaffery, who led Iowa in scoring with a career-high-tyling 21 points, said Perkins was only supposed to go 5-of-6 from the foul line over the final stretch. 

“He made all of his free throws, even though he was supposed to miss the last one because we wanted them to not have a set out-of-bounds play, but, you know, he made it anyways, and I guess you can’t be mad at him for making a free throw,” Patrick McCaffery said of Perkins. “But yeah, you know, obviously he was huge.”

Perkins, who sat out the Hawkeyes’ last game against Omaha on Nov 21 with a thigh injury, scored all 11 of his points in the second half and nine in the final 3:47 of the game, after beginning the game 0-of-6 from the floor. 

RELATED: Kris Murray’s career night lifts Iowa men’s basketball over Omaha

Overall, Perkins converted 9-of-10 free-throw attempts. 

Patrick McCaffery ties career high

Earlier this season, after a season-opening victory over Bethune-Cookman on Nov. 7, Hawkeye senior forward Filip Rebraca said Iowa’s roster was built so the Hawkeyes could have a different leading scorer every night, and his prediction is proving accurate. 

After junior forward Kris Murray topped the Hawkeye score sheet with a career-high 30 points against Omaha, junior forward Patrick McCaffery led the Hawkeyes versus the Tigers. 

The junior forward converted seven of his 14 field-goal attempts and made six of his seven free throws on the night.

Patrick McCaffery is Iowa’s third different leading scorer in the first five contests of the season.

Friday marked the third time in the first five games of the season Patrick McCaffery has shot at or above 50 percent from the field. He has only missed two of his 22 free throw attempts over the last four games.


“His stamina is way better,” Fran McCaffery said of his son. “He’s able to sustain effort, I used to have to go get him, now, when he’s cooking, I can leave him out there. Playing with great confidence,  on the glass, playing bigger, playing more physical, really pleased with how he’s playing.”

Big picture

With the win, Iowa improved to 5-0 on the season and 2-0 against Power Five opponents, picking up an 83-67 win over Seton Hall on Nov. 16. 

RELATED: Iowa men’s basketball defeats Seton Hall in first road test of season

2022-23 marks the third straight season the Hawkeyes have started the schedule with at least five consecutive victories. 

Up next

Iowa will face the winner of the Cal-TCU game, set for 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 25, on Nov. 26 at 6 p.m. for the Emerald Coast Classic title. A television channel for the championship game has yet to be announced.