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NORTHWESTERN 89, IOWA 54: REVENGE OF THE NERDS

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Let’s just forget this ever happened.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

So that game was … uh … not ideal.

Northwestern set the tone right off the bat to the tune of an 8-0 run in the first 3 minutes of the contest. The Hawkeyes never truly recovered.

The first half featured some objectively terrible, November-esque defense from the Hawks to go along with sloppy offensive play and generally poor shooting (looking at you, Peter Jok). Iowa went over four minutes before connecting on a field goal in the first half and was hampered by scoring droughts all night.

The truly frustrating aspect of this game was the Hawks’ profound inability to “get over the hump.” About midway through the opening frame, Iowa whittled the Wildcat lead down to a mere three points at 25-22. Of course, that was followed up by a 14-1 run from Chris Collins’ squad that ultimately doomed the Hawkeyes to a 44-32 halftime deficit.

Overall, Iowa turned the ball over 9 times in the first half and was outrebounded 21-13, which frankly won’t get the job done, especially when Peter Jok is contributing four points and sub-par defense.

I wish I could say the second half featured a better performance, but no. Just no.

Northwestern jumped out to an 8-2 run in the first couple of minutes after the break, prompting Fran to immediately sub out all of his starters. No bueno.

On the bright side, the Hawkeye bench did perform admirably (hey Ryan Kriener, bravo) for the first few minutes, trimming an 18-point deficit down to 11 at one point early in the half.

Then that damned hump struck again.

The Hawks got within 9 at one point, but then promptly followed that up by allowing yet another substantial Northwestern run. Iowa would never really threaten again (if you could say they ever did) and surrendered a 33-7 run to the Wildcats to end the game.

On the Iowa side, Ryan Kriener was a walking (and shooting) silver lining, chipping in a career-high 14 points on 6-7 shooting and bringing some legitimate hustle to the table. Tyler Cook was the only other Hawkeye in double figures, also with 14; meanwhile, Peter Jok had a conspicuously silent performance, finishing 2-9 from the floor with 4 points, all coming in the first half. Honestly, that isn’t going to cut it against any more-than-mediocre team in the Big Ten.

For Northwestern’s part, Bryant McIntosh dominated Iowa’s guards all night and was a fixture in the middle of the defense, finishing with 20 points and 10 assists (plus only one turnover) on 9-11 shooting. Now, McIntosh is a good player, but he was shooting 35% from the field and averaging over 3 turnovers per game on the year—ouch.

Scottie Lindsey also showed up in a big way for the Wildcats, chipping in 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists on their way to the victory. I daresay Mr. Lindsey is a damn good player.

Next up on tap for the Hawks is a matchup with Maryland on Thursday in Carver, while Northwestern heads to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes in a week’s time.