IOWA CITY — Jordan Bohannon is the last guy you would expect to have a confidence problem.
Iowa’s junior point guard has a brash, freewheeling way about him that gives you the idea he never, ever has the slightest doubts about himself.
But he does. He admitted it Saturday. There have been moments this season when that confidence that always has been part of his game began to slip away just a little bit.
He appeared to get it back Saturday, though. Playing Savannah State will do that for you.
Bohannon fired in six 3-point field goals in 14 attempts and scored a season-high 18 points as the Hawkeyes romped to an easy 110-64 victory over a team that has allowed more than 100 points per game for the season.
“My shot felt good,’’ Bohannon said. “I was really open. I’m not really used to shooting that open shots. But it was nice to see some go in.’’
It’s the ninth time in his college career that Bohannon has made six or more 3s in a game, but he hadn’t done it since late last season. He was shooting only 32-percent from 3-point range going into the game and hadn’t made more than three in a game this season.
And it was starting to bother him. He needed a breakout game like Saturday, even if it did come against a team that sits back in a 2-3 zone and dares opponents to beat them from beyond the arc.
“I’ve been struggling with my confidence,’’ Bohannon admitted. “It’s something that ever since I started playing basketball I’ve never had a struggle with.’’
He said his older brother, Zach, who played at Wisconsin has frequently told him the day would come when his confidence took a hiatus.
“I thought it would be last year, but I kept my confidence, as hard as it was to do it last year,’’ he said. “I never really had that period where I doubted myself completely. I think I was going through that these last few games where I just wasn’t myself.
“Coach (Fran) McCaffery has done a great job of keeping my confidence. All my teammates said to just keep shooting the ball tonight so that’s what I did.’’
Those teammates watched Bohannon rain in a few hundred 3s over the past two years. They knew what they were watching in the early part of this season was temporary.
“I knew that was coming,’’ Isaiah Moss said. “He’s too good a shooter to keep going the way he was.’’
The shooting slump seemingly started to bleed into other parts of Bohannon’s game, too. He set the Iowa record for most assists by a freshman two years ago and he had even more assists last season, but he is third on the team in that statistic this season.
Earlier in the season, he had back-to-back games in which he didn’t record a single assist, something that had happened to him in only one previous game at the college level.
On the other hand, he has become a vastly improved defensive player. He played the leading role in holding down Northern Iowa’s A.J. Green a week ago Saturday and was very good at that end of the court again Saturday.
But there’s no question Bohannon’s greatest asset is his ability to put up points three at a time from 20 feet and beyond. The Hawkeyes definitely are a better team when he’s doing that.
“We’re a lot better,’’ said freshman Joe Wieskamp, who made five 3s of his own Saturday in helping the Hawkeyes set a single-game record. “He really spreads the floor, opens up a lot of things for me personally as well as the paint, for (Tyler Cook). We’re just a lot better team when he’s hitting.’’
Of course, perfectionist that he is, Bohannon wasn’t completely satisfied with what he did Saturday.
“I didn’t shoot that well,’’ he said with a smile. “I should make at least nine if I’m going to put up 14.’’
He’s been there: McCaffery admitted to feeling a certain amount of empathy for Savannah State, one of those low-major programs that is forced to criss-cross the country playing vastly superior opponents in the early part of the season in order to collect much-needed paychecks.
McCaffery was in a similar situation in the years he coached at UNC Greensboro.
“I’ve coached at one institution where we were totally reliant on guarantee income to pay the bill,’’ he said. “So I respect what that team is going through.’’
Dropping again: For the second straight week, Iowa dropped one spot in the Associated Press Top 25 despite winning all of its games during the week. The Hawkeyes are at No. 24 now.
Fine at the line: With conference play about to resume next week, Iowa leads the Big Ten in free throw percentage at 74.6.
Three Iowa players rank among the top 12 in the league individually: Luka Garza is fifth (84.2), Connor McCaffery tied for 10th (82.5) and Bohannon 12th (81.1). Isaiah Moss would be leading the league with his 90.5 mark if he had enough attempts to qualify.