The Cayman Islands Classic has not been kind to Iowa, which will try to salvage a seventh-place finish Wednesday against UAB. The Hawkeyes were beaten for the second straight day, this time by South Dakota State 80-72 on Tuesday, and will need to rebound against the Blazers.
The Hawkeyes played better than they did in an opening-round loss to Louisiana and even limited the Jackrabbit’s top scorer to 10 points, but still it was not enough. “Even though we have a young team, we have to play like a veteran team in close games,” coach Fran McCaffery told the media. “We didn’t do that yesterday and we didn’t do that today. We could have won either game.” Isaiah Moss played a leading role on the offensive end for the second straight game by scoring 18 points, but the sophomore guard also had four of the Hawkeyes’ 15 turnovers. Chris Cokley registered his second 20-point game and fourth double-double of the season, but the Blazers suffered their second loss in overtime against Buffalo 96-91.
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ABOUT IOWA (3-2): There were some positives in the loss such as the play of Luka Garza and Ahmad Wagner, who rebounded from tough outings against Louisiana. Garza only had four points, but the freshman big man came up with 10 rebounds, and Wagner scored 11 points, three more than he had in the previous four games combined. “We’re spotty right now, great in some segments, not so great in some segments,” Wagner, a junior forward, told the media. “That’s something we have to fix - our consistency - if we’re going to be a great team.”
ABOUT UAB (3-2): Coach Robert Ehsan appears to have landed a good one in freshman guard Zack Bryant, who has scored 14 or more points in every game this season for the Blazers. Bryant, who wasn’t highly rated coming out of the Providence School in Jacksonville, Fla., broke the school record for points in a season, which was previously held by Duke’s Grayson Allen. “Scottie (Bryant) is the ultimate winner,” Ehsan, who went 17-16 in his first season with UAB, told the media. “Every single team he’s been on wins. He’s a natural leader.”
1. Moss (16-for-16) is one of five players nationally to be perfect from the foul line on 16 or more attempts.
2. Cokley has 13 career double-doubles.
3. After a break for Thanksgiving, the Hawkeyes play three of their next four games on the road, including contests at Indiana and Iowa State.
PREDICTION: UAB 74, Iowa 70