IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — It had been over three decades since Iowa had last finished its non-conference team schedule undefeated.
But the 24th-ranked Hawkeyes will resume Big Ten play next week at 0-2 in the league — and coming off one of their ugliest wins in years.
Tyler Cook scored 19 points with 12 rebounds for his fourth double-double in seven games and 24th-ranked Iowa held off lowly Bryant 72-67 on Saturday night.
Jordan Bohannon had 17 points for the Hawkeyes (11-2), who swept their out of league opponents for the first time since 1986-87.
"It's great," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "But we recognize what's coming."
Iowa hardly looked like it was ready for what's coming.
The pesky Bulldogs (3-8) pestered the Hawkeyes with a slow tempo — and even tied it at 66-all with 3:08 left. Cook gave Iowa the lead back with a layup, and the Hawkeyes forced a subsequent shot-clock violation.
Bryant's Adam Grant then missed an open look at a potential game-tying 3 with 24 seconds left, and Bohannon sealed it at the free throw line.
Bryant showed it was ready to give the Hawkeyes a game from the get-go, as Grant scored 12 of the Bulldogs' first 13 points — and buried a 3 at the buzzer — to help keep them within 43-34 at the break.
The Bulldogs then opened the second half on a 10-2 run to get within a point of Iowa's lead, and Grant's 3 with 5:37 left cut the lead to 64-62. Joe Kasperzyk then tied it up on a layup.
"They made some really tough shots. They've got some really good guards," Bohannon said of the Bulldogs. "They ran some stuff that we weren't ready for...they slowed the game down and they did a lot of different things."
Grant had 20 of his 23 points in the opening 20 minutes for Bryant. The Bulldogs hit 10 3s after shooting just 27.8 percent entering play.
"The kid Grant can really play," McCaffery said.
THE BIG PICTURE
Iowa: The Hawkeyes played a relatively ambitious non-conference slate, going up against the likes of Oregon, Connecticut, Pitt and Iowa State — and their first two Big Ten games were against No. 15 Wisconsin and No. 8 Michigan State. It's understandable, then, that coach Fran McCaffery would finish December with Western Carolina, Savannah State and Bryant. But the Hawkeyes looked lost at times against a team they might beat by 40 if they played again.
Bryant: The Bulldogs might have raised some eyebrows in their Northeast Conference by hanging with a Big Ten team for 40 minutes.
Iowa could be at risk of dropping out of the Top 25 on Monday after barely beating a team that Yale thumped by 42 points.
BRYANT'S POST PLAY
The Bulldogs and Hawkeyes each grabbed 32 rebounds, despite the fact that Bryant didn't start a player bigger than 6-foot-5. The Bulldogs enjoyed some generous bounces to be sure, grabbing 13 offensive boards, but missing starting center Luka Garza (sprained ankle) shouldn't have had that much of an impact on the glass. "It's about toughness," Bryant coach Jared Grasso said. McCaffery said Garza's status for Purdue will be a game-time decision, adding that the Hawkeyes won't rush the sophomore back onto the floor.
Once again, underrated Iowa senior Nicholas Baer helped the Hawkeyes avoid disaster. Baer scored 12 points with two assists, two steals and a career-high five blocks.
LIES, DANG LIES AND STATISTICS
Iowa's team stat sheet wasn't indicative of one for a squad that could only beat one of the worst teams in America by five points. The Hawkeyes shot 46 percent from the floor, 36 on 3s and 67.7 on free throws — not great numbers, but not terrible ones either. Iowa also forced 13 turnovers and had 16 assists on 21 baskets.
Iowa travels to Purdue on Thursday.
Bryant hosts St. Francis (Brooklyn) on Thursday.