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Iowa defeats UConn to win 2K Empire Classic at MSG

Two games in two nights were no problem for the Iowa Hawkeyes as they won the 2K Empire Classic.

Day 2 of the 2K Empire Classic took place at Madison Square Garden on Friday. Fans saw the 3rd place and Championship games at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

In the 3rd place game, Oregon defeated Syracuse 80-65 in front of a pro-Syracuse crowd. The title game of the tournament saw Iowa lead almost wire-to-wire and beat UConn 91-72. Here are the three takeaways from Friday’s games:

Bol Bol Is Man Among Students

When Manute Bol hit the scene in the 1980’s, he was the first-ever “unicorn” of the NBA. A big man with range and major personality. He was someone that many believe was the genesis of the big man that could shoot but also do standard big man stuff. Over two days, fans at Madison Square Garden saw the second coming of Manute Bol as his son Bol Bol took the floor for the Oregon Ducks.

The 7’2” center from Kansas scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds on Thursday against Iowa Against the Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 matchup zone on Friday, Bol finished with 26 points and nine rebounds in a Ducks win. He is avageraging17 points and12 rebounds in his first three games with the Ducks.

“He’s a good player, he’s big, he’s tough. He’s very good,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. “He can shoot from the perimeter, he can shoot from the high post–that’s a great combination.”

For Oregon in the always competitive Pac-12, having a weapon like Bol could be the blessing that coach Dana Altman has been looking for. However, he is a freshman, so it will be interesting to see how he handles the long season and the intensity of conference play. If his first three games are any indication, he should be all right.

Iowa May Be A Force In The Big Ten

In Iowa’s 91-72 win over UConn, the Hawkeyes outrebounded the Huskies 43-31 and held UConn to 4-for-26 shooting from the three-point line. Iowa was selected to finish 10th out of 14 teams in the Big Ten preseason poll. They had a chip on their shoulders going into the season.

Iowa is now 4-0 after winning their two games in New York and could be unbeaten when they take on Michigan State on Dec. 3rd. Tyler Cook looked like an NBA first-round pick finished with 26 points while Luka Garza finished with 22 points. Iowa may be a dark horse in the Big Ten, but also an exciting NCAA Tournament team. Iowa is a team to keep your eye on this season.

UConn Not Quite Ready For Primetime

After their 83-76 win over Syracuse on Thursday, UConn was flying high heading into the Championship game against Iowa on Friday night. New coach Dan Hurley inherited a team that is mostly Kevin Ollie recruits in the basketball-competition starved AAC. Against Iowa, the Huskies showed that the team isn’t quite ready to get back into the national spotlight.

Not to say that UConn did not play well against Iowa, but there were holes in their rotation. Add in the questionable shot selection, a lack of rebounding the game was over at the half. Hurley will bring in “his guys” and win in Connecticut down, but people should not hop on the UConn back to national prominence train quite yet.

2K Empire Classic All-Tournament Team

Jalen Carey- Syracuse

Bol Bol- Oregon

Eric Cobb- UConn

Tyler Cook- Iowa

Luka Garza- Iowa (Tournament MVP)

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Kahlil Thomas

Kahlil is the College Sports Editor for as well as a columnist, hosting the Bump 'N Run column once per week. He also co-hosts a weekly basketball podcast, The Box Out, every Thursday evening with fellow writer Jason Cordner.
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