By John Bohnenkamp
It looked like the type of shot that has defined Jordan Bohannon’s career at Iowa.
Bohannon pulled up for a 3-pointer in the second half of Saturday’s game at Penn State. The shot hit off the right side of the rim and the long rebound looked like it was heading out of bounds.
But guard Joe Toussaint was able to grab it, and he fired the ball back to Bohannon, who was 30 feet from the basket. Bohannon caught and shot without hesitation, hitting the 3-pointer.
It was a key moment in the Hawkeyes’ 68-51 win. Iowa led 35-29 after the Bohannon make with 17:46 to play, and the Hawkeyes steadily pulled away.
Bohannon’s career has never been about hesitation, but something, he said, had changed in the last couple of games.
Bohannon lamented the misses he had in the last week. He was 2-of-8 in 3-pointers in an 81-71 win over Minnesota, 2-of-10 in a 48-46 loss at Rutgers.
The confidence that has punctuated his career had turned into doubts.
So, that miss that turned into a make against Penn State was comforting.
“Huge, individually, for my confidence,” Bohannon said. “Minnesota, at Rutgers, I was hesitating to shoot that shot.
“Thirty feet in the basket, by the logo, that’s a shot I’ve made in my career. The last couple of games, I’ve been hesitant to shoot that. I think I’m starting to get my mentality back.”
Bohannon, who became the Big Ten’s all-time leader in 3-pointers earlier this season, leads the Hawkeyes with 43 3-pointers. He’s shooting 36.1% in threes after coming into the season as a career 40 percent shooter.
Bohannon had a strong start to the season — he had six 3-pointers in the opener against Longwood, and made seven in a win at Virginia.
But he’s made just 14 3-pointers in the six games since the Hawkeyes got back into Big Ten play at the start of the month, shooting 26.9 percent.
“This was probably one of the first times in my career where I kind of doubted myself,” Bohannon said. “Minnesota and Rutgers, I was getting the ball late in the shot clock, and I wasn’t my normal self.”
Especially frustrating was the loss at Rutgers, when one shot could have changed the outcome. Some of the threes Bohannon took were bad misses.
“The last two days, I thought if I make a three here or there, it’s a totally different game at Rutgers,” he said.
Bohannon is in his sixth, and last, season. That, he said, has made him put more pressure on himself.
“I want this final year to be special,” he said. “For some reason, I’ve been overthinking everything. I want this year to be so perfect, and I started out so great. For whatever reason, I haven’t been able to find a rhythm. Shots I normally make for my entire career haven’t been falling the last four or five games.”
It’s why assistant coach Kirk Speraw put together some of Bohannon’s greatest hits for him to watch before the Penn State game.
“He brought me in the office right before the game here, and he showed me some clips through the years, all the big shots I’ve hit, the cockiness and the swagger I played with,” Bohannon said. “I needed to get back to that. That’s myself. I haven’t been myself in a couple of games.”
THE MURRAY DYNAMIC
Twin brothers Kris and Keegan Murray scored 19 of Iowa’s 21 points late in the second half of Saturday’s game.
“Well, you kind of expect it from Keegan, and I don’t ever want to take it for granted, but I was just really happy for Kris the way he played,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
“We were just out there hooping,” Kris said. “It was pretty cool to see us contribute at the end of the game, and help us win.”
The biggest thing for Kris, McCaffery said, was keeping his confidence up. Late in the second half, McCaffery took him out of the game, talking to him on the sideline for a moment, then sent him back to the scorers’ table to check into the game seven seconds later.
Kris came up with a steal and was fouled on a fast break. He made both free throws to give Iowa a 60-49 lead.
“I thought he was a little bit sideways the other night (in the loss to Rutgers) and didn’t get anything going, and like I said to you guys, sometimes he gets down on himself,” McCaffery said. “Tonight he screwed up one play badly, and it’s like, just keep playing. He came back and he made a steal and another steal and a blocked shot and a bucket, made his free throws. Just really proud of him.”
Keegan is third in the nation in scoring at 22.8 points per game. Kris is fourth on the Hawkeyes in scoring at 9.9 per game.
Having both on the court at the same time gives Iowa’s offense a different dynamic.
“I just have to kind of play off him,” Kris said of playing with Keegan. “It’s more of a cutting game, with him on the court, because we don’t want to create double-teams for him, give him tough shots to make.”
A LONG ROAD FOR THE COYOTES
Western Illinois plays host to South Dakota on Monday night in a game rescheduled from Thursday.
Health and safety concerns with the Coyotes forced the postponement. The team was in Macomb for the game, then traveled to St. Paul, Minnesota for Saturday’s Summit League game against St. Thomas. South Dakota won, 90-79, then had to travel back to Macomb for Monday’s game. The Coyotes will head back to their campus in Vermillion, S.D., after the game.
It will be a 2,000-mile weekend for them.
Photo: Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon heads down court after making a shot in Saturday’s game against Penn State. (Brian Ray/hawkeyesports.com)