INDIANAPOLIS – Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon couldn’t recall how many times he tried a long, game-winning 3 in his backyard. Or how many times the shots went in.
No matter. Because when it came to the real thing, he made it.
With the shot clock running down in a tie game, a berth in the Big Ten Tournament championship at stake and the ball in his hands, Bohannon did what he always does – took the shot, this time from just inside the midcourt logo.
And in the blink of an eye, the ball banked off the backboard and through the net with 0.8 seconds to give No. 24 Iowa an 80-77 victory over Indiana in the first of Saturday’s two semifinals.
“It’s something that can’t be put into words,” Bohannon said. “You dream about it in the backyard when you’re throwing up shots there or at the YMCA or wherever it might be. So when it went in, I just started running in circles because I didn’t really know where to go.”
Iowa fans know where the third 2,000-point scorer in school history belonged — shooting himself out of a slump.
Bohannon scored just 12 points against the surprising ninth-seeded Hoosiers. But he made three big 3s in the final 2 1/2 minutes to give the fifth-seeded Hawkeyes (25-9) their third win in three days. Next up, they’ll face No. 9 Purdue on Sunday and try to clinch their first conference tourney crown since 2006, which is part of the reason Bohannon returned this season.
While they may not have advanced without Bohannon’s late-game shots, they still needed all-conference forward Keegan Murray to do some work, too. He finished with 32 points and nine rebounds and put himself in position for another board, just in case Bohannon missed.
But the final shot didn’t even go the way coach Fran McCaffery drew it up.
“He was supposed to get a shot in the corner but they jammed it up, credit to them,” McCaffery said. “But he just kept coming. You know as long as he’s shooting, I think it’s better than anything I can draw up anyway.”
Bohannon made sure of it despite going 4 of 10 from the field and trying to rally the Hawkeyes, who trailed for all but 122 seconds until Murray’s 3 gave them a 74-73 lead with 1:56 to play.
Bohannon’s next 3, with 50.1 seconds left, made it 77-73 and appeared to seal the victory.
Instead, Xavier Johnson made two free throws and when Indiana (20-13) forced a turnover, Johnson scored on a breakaway layup to tie the score with 30.7 seconds to go. Johnson finished with 20 points and nine assists.
And that’s how it stayed until Bohannon’s bank shot. Johnson’s desperation heave from 60 feet bounced high off the backboard, sealing Iowa’s victory.
“I knew he was going to launch one and it banked in, sometimes that happens,” said Trayce Jackson-Davis, who had 31 points and 10 rebounds for Indiana. “It’s March Madness. That last shot, the ball doesn’t always bounce your way and, obviously, we were about 1 second away from going into overtime.”
Indiana: If two wins in two days, over the 2020-21 Big Ten regular-season champs and 2021-22 conference co-champs, weren’t enough to secure a spot in the 68-team NCAA Tournament field, Saturday’s game should have done the trick. Indiana was in control most of the game against one of America’s most proficient scoring teams but came up just short.
Iowa: There’s no doubt the Hawkeyes shooters cause most teams trouble. But after scoring 196 points in two games, Iowa needed a late flurry to secure this one. After Sunday’s game, there will be no more back-to-back contests on the schedule – allowing Iowa to go full throttle the rest of this season.
Given the surprises that occurred Thursday and Friday in Indianapolis – and throughout the other conference tournaments around the country this weekend – the Hawkeyes should move up in the final Top 25 rankings. The more interesting question will be whether the Hoosiers’ breakthrough weekend sends them into the poll for the first time this season.
Indiana: Race Thompson had 11 points and seven rebounds. … The Hoosiers were just 5 of 19 from 3-point range in their third game in three days. … Indiana reached the semifinal round for the first time since 2013 and won multiple conference tourney games for the first time 2003.
Iowa: Murray was 11 of 17 from the field and 8 of 10 on 3s. The rest of the Hawkeyes were 6 of 22 on 3s. … Patrick McCaffery finished with 16 points. … Tony Perkins, who played high school ball in Indy, had eight points and five assists.
Indiana: Will find out Sunday night if they’ve made their first NCAA Tournament since 2016.
Iowa: Faces Purdue, the No. 3 seed, in Sunday’s championship game.