Joe Toussaint couldn't resist.

Toussaint smiled as he saw Iowa guard Bakari Evelyn talking to the media after Saturday's 77-70 win over Cincinnati.

"Yessir, BK!" the freshman guard shouted at Evelyn before laughing.

Evelyn smiled, and kept talking. It was the biggest night so far of what will be his one-year career with the Hawkeyes.

Evelyn had 15 points in almost 29 minutes in a stabilizing role for the skittish Hawkeyes, who had 24 turnovers and let a 15-point second-half lead get away before prevailing.

"It was great to see him have a night like this," center Luka Garza said. "He deserves that. And just really proud of him and looking forward to see what he continues to do for us."

"We love him, and we have tremendous confidence in him," guard CJ Fredrick said. "And I think you saw, like, he brings a little bit of everything to the game, and I think you saw, he's a big-time player."

"Tonight he stepped up and was huge," coach Fran McCaffery said.

Evelyn was 4-of-7 from the field, 3-of-4 in 3-pointers. He also had seven rebounds and four assists.

"I just want to do whatever the team needs," he said. "Tonight it just happened to be that."

Evelyn, a graduate transfer from Valparaiso, came to Iowa because the Hawkeyes needed an experienced player for the backcourt, especially considering the uncertainty of the status of senior guard Jordan Bohannon, who had offseason hip surgery.

But as Bohannon tried to play to start the season — he played in 10 of Iowa's first 11 games — Evelyn's minutes were limited. He had played just 137 1/2 minutes in 11 games, and was averaging just 1.5 points per game.

He was needed on Saturday. With Bohannon out for the rest of the season because of another hip surgery, Evelyn's minutes figured to increase.

"(McCaffery) told me this week I was going to have opportunities," Evelyn said. "Just be ready and go out there and play my game."

Toussaint got the start against the Bearcats, but after two turnovers and a foul on Iowa's first three possessions, Evelyn entered the game. He hit two 3-pointers and had an assist on Iowa's other field goal as the Hawkeyes took an early 8-7 lead.

His play wasn't a surprise to the Hawkeyes.

"He's just been doing everything Coach has asked of him, so far, playing different positions, just working hard, waiting for his opportunity, and he got it tonight and stepped up to it," Garza said. "That's what he presents to our team — he's just a hard worker who is going to come in and do his thing. And we all have confidence in him and we have seen this in him since the start of the season, and even in the summer, he's been playing really well for us."

Evelyn played different positions throughout the game for the Hawkeyes, whether it was at point guard, the '2' guard, or at the win.

"I've been saying this since he got here, and I think you guys think I'm just saying it. I'm only saying it because I'm seeing it," McCaffery said. "You heard what Luka said. Since the summertime, he's been a really good player, OK? He can play the point, he can play the '2,' he can make threes, he can make plays, he's good in ball screens, he defends, he plays the '3' spot, he knows all 3 spots."

Evelyn also has the experience, and it showed. He started 46 games in his two seasons at Valparaiso, averaging 10.5 points.

"I've played in big games before," he said. "So it helped me stay poised and just be ready, I guess."

Iowa was down 64-62 with 4:49 to play, but took control of the game with three consecutive 3-pointers, the second one coming from Evelyn.

Toussaint struggled all game — he played just 3 1/2 minutes and didn't score while committing three turnovers.

McCaffery said Toussaint changed shoes at halftime because of his early stumbles.

"I really wanted to get him back in, but he'll settle down, he's a really good player, this is all part of the growth process," McCaffery said. "He's really, he's young, but he's a competitor, he'll have an opportunity in the next one."

The opportunities are there now for Evelyn and Toussaint. Connor McCaffery will still do a bulk of the ball-handling for the Hawkeyes, but they'll need help, especially if teams try to copy the Bearcats' blueprint of pressuring the Hawkeyes.

Toussaint will continue to grow into his position. But Evelyn's experience is something the Hawkeyes will need, and they've known that since the summer.