NEW YORK — Nearly 60 NBA scouts were on hand to watch Bol Bol make his Madison Square Garden college debut Thursday night, but Bol and his Oregon teammates could not deliver a win on the big stage.
Iowa outrebounded and outshot the Ducks from deep en route to a 77-69 victory in the 2K Empire Classic Benefitting Wounded Warrior Project. A smattering of "Let's go Ducks" chants broke out in the final minutes, but by then the game had been decided.
The No. 13 Ducks (2-1) will play No. 15 Syracuse (2-1) in the consolation game at 1:30 p.m. Friday, with the loser likely to drop out of The Associated Press Top 25 poll. Iowa (3-0) will face UConn (3-0) in the championship game right after.
Led by first-year coach Dan Hurley, UConn stunned Syracuse, 83-76, in the first game of the doubleheader, a Big East throwback affair played in front of a raucous crowd.
The 7-foot-2 Bol, a projected top 10 pick in the NBA draft, has drawn comparisons to new-age NBA big men like Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks. Knicks President Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry were among the NBA executives on hand to watch Bol and the other prospects.
Bol entered as Oregon's leading scorer averaging 17.5 points per game to go with 12.0 rebounds. He finished with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting with five rebounds and four blocks. He went to the bench early in the second half after going up soft for a layup that he missed. A trainer worked on his right calf several times during the second half.
"I think he's alright," Ducks coach Dana Altman said. "Like the rest of our team, we just didn't compete tonight. I'm very disappointed in the way that we did compete. Right from the start, we weren't ready to play, that's my fault. We didn't play as hard as we needed to. We didn't play together like we needed to. I'm very disappointed in myself and the team. That's not the way we want to play."
Still, Bol made an impression on the Hawkeyes.
"The guy's like 7-9 with an 8-foot wingspan with ball skills as well," Iowa junior forward Tyler Cook joked. "I know personally I haven't seen anybody like that. Anytime you play against guys who are unique in their own way, it presents challenges."
Said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery of Bol: "He's a very unique talent. He affects the game in a lot of ways. You know he's going to do it defensively. He had a couple blocks early. I thought we did a better job taking it to him as the game went on, trying to get him in foul trouble.
"He's going to get stronger. We tried to be a little physical with him at times, but he's a competitor. He doesn't back down. He fights. He's a very gifted offensive player. He has a real soft touch around the basket. If he gets it deep it's really hard to stop him. We tried not to let him do that. That takes a collective effort. It's hard to guard that guy one-on-one."
Oregon did not make Bol available for interviews.
Oregon's Ehab Amin led all scorers with 25 points on 7-of-16 shooting, including 5-of-8 from deep. Payton Pritchard, who entered as Oregon's second-leading scorer at 16.0 points per game, was 1-for-9 from the field and 0-of-4 from beyond the arc. He finished with five points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Oregon closed to within 61-53 with about five and half minutes remaining on a pair of free throws by Pritchard, but couldn't cut the deficit under seven points. Luka Garza drained a three-pointer to put Iowa up 66-55.
"Here we are on a big stage against a ranked team and they performed really well," McCaffery said.
Iowa got balanced scoring with Jordan Bohannon notching 16 points, Garza 12 and Ryan Kriener 11. Cook had nine points and nine rebounds.
Iowa stormed out to a 21-9 lead thanks to four three-pointers and seized a 39-28 halftime lead. For the game, the Hawkeyes shot 19-of-54, making 10-of-28 from beyond the arc.
Oregon, meantime, converted 23-of-62 field goals and 6-of-18 from deep, with just 10 assists. Iowa outrebounded Oregon, 46-34.
Iowa also made 29-of-33 from the line.