Here's how you know Iowa basketball is excellent: the team won 85-71, and all you can think after watching it is "wow, how was that only a 14-point game?"
Peter Jok shook off an early shot to the face and led the Hawkeyes with 26 points in just 22 minutes of court time, and Jarrod Uthoff chipped in 23 of his own. Jok scored 22 points after halftime, including three straight three-pointers that helped Iowa put the game away after Northwestern climbed back to within nine points.
Northwestern struggled mightily against the Iowa zone, especially when Iowa's starters were on the floor. Iowa went on an 18-2 run where the Wildcats missed 12 of 13 shots (the only make coming on an easy drive to the hoop), and Northwestern committed 16 turnovers trying to navigate the trapping defense.
The Hawkeyes led by as many as 29 points in the second half before Northwestern went happy-go-jacky on Iowa's subs in the final minutes, but even before that, Iowa missed enough open looks and shots at the rim that Fran McCaffery won't be lacking for teachable moments for his starters. And the kids... yikes. It's not often you see a coach call a timeout in the middle of garbage time just to get the game back under control, but an easy 12-1 run caused some understandable panic on the sidelines. If that's a preview of next season, well, uh... it's good they'll have an off-season to improve.
But really, the day belongs to Jok, who not only bombed on the Wildcats but got to the free throw line at will. He's arguably the most ambitious driver to the basket on the team, for better or worse, and it worked against Northwestern's matchup zone on Sunday. It was also nice to see that Uthoff's struggles with his jumper were isolated to the Maryland game; he's fine.
Uthoff is now scoring 19.1 ppg vs. Big Ten teams, while Peter Jok isn't far behind at 17.7.— Matt (@TitoHwk) January 31, 2016
Northwestern, meanwhile, is on a freefall of stunning proportions even by its own meager standards; the Wildcats have lost five straight B1G games by an average of 18.2 points, and it'll take a minor miracle for the Cats to finish at .500 in the Big Ten. This is going to shock you, but they're probably not going to the NCAA Tournament. They're just Northwestern.
Iowa moves to 17-4 and 8-1 at the midpoint of Big Ten play, which, let's check the numbers... is very good. Even against a relatively strong Big Ten schedule, Iowa has outscored its conference opponents by 10.3 points per game, and Dave Revsine of the Big Ten Network noted that the Hawkeyes lead the nation with seven conference wins by double digits. They're a mortal lock to remain in the Top 10 in Monday's AP poll, they'll be a 1-seed on most of the week's bracket projections, and no serious outlet will have them lower than a 2. Life is good.