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Hawkeyes outlast Rutgers, 85-80

It got interesting down the stretch but counts the same in the win column

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The #19 Iowa Hawkeyes (14-5, 5-3) didn’t make it easy but were able to beat the newly ranked #24 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (14-5, 5-3), 85-80, in a game which featured 12 ties and 7 lead changes.

Iowa traded punches with the Scarlet Knights in the opening stanza, which didn’t have a stoppage in play until the first TV timeout, where Rutgers led 14-10. Iowa scored 10 straight points to go up six, capped by a Ryan Kriener 3, and Carver was rocking. Rutgers responded and were able to lead at half 43-38 behind a combined 23 points on 9/11 shooting from Ron Harper, Jr. and Akwasi Yeboah. Both teams shot near 60% in the half and Iowa was paced by Luka Garza in the first half with 14 points, followed by Joe Toussaint’s 8.

Despite yielding free throws and a set play to open the half, Iowa went on a quick tear to open the half to take the lead quickly behind an assertive Joe Wieskamp, who scored a 7 points in the first seven minutes of the half. Kriener and Garza made themselves known as Iowa was able to get to the line after shooting just four free throws in the first half.

After an acrobatic Joe Toussaint layup with 10:29 on the court which stretched the lead to 10, Iowa couldn’t get another basket (seven free throws, though) as Rutgers was able to gain a 77-76 lead. Iowa was able to get to buckets (a contest CJ Fredrick layup and top-of-the-key three from Joe Wieskamp with 1:30 left), and they were able to ice the game from there. Credit Connor McCaffery for scoring his only 4 points at the line, going 4/4 inside of a minute.

It was Iowa’s sixth QUAD ONE win, as Dave Revsine mentioned in the post game show, second in the country.

Joe Toussaint had his best game in black and gold

After a series of tough games, JT put together his most complete outing for the Hawkeyes. He went 5/8 from the field, scoring 14 points and added 7 rebounds plus 4 assists to just 2 turnovers. He was often times the most energetic guy on the court and was able to get to the rim multiple times. He also was the “first to the floor” multiple times and continued to hustle in transition defense. Early in the second half, Montez Mathis had a clean shot at a layup before JT fouled him. Mathis missed both free throws.

Luka Garza continues his march

He scored 14 points in each half - 11/17 shooting with 2 threes - and tallied 13 rebounds (a ho-hum 5 offensive boards), four blocks, two steals, and drew a charge. The one failure was that Iowa couldn’t get the ball to him down the stretch. Credit to Rutgers, here: Iowa was doing their damndest in setting plays up for him but the passing lanes were quickly closed off.

The stats don’t show it, but the defense was pretty good

Iowa forced just 9 turnovers (3 steals) and 5 blocks but they played with VERY active hands and affected plenty of Scarlet Knight passes. On the first possession of the game, Fredrick notched two deflections himself. Problem was, Rutgers was red hot from deep to open the game before cooling off in the second half: after going 6/11 from deep in the first half the Scarlet Knights made just one in the second half.

Additionally, could somebody please stop Ron Harper, Jr. next time he comes to Carver? He went 10/14 en route to a career-high 29 points. Better outcome this time.

Fran McCaffery knew what he was doing in drawing that technical

After the first half featured just 7 fouls from both teams combined and zero called on the last possession where Iowa seemingly fouled thrice, Fran had seen enough. He was the last guy off the court, lambasting the refs for swallowing their whistle which allowed an easy layup on Rutgers last possession.

The refs adjusted in the second half, and it was to Iowa’s benefit. They were quickly in the bonus and double-bonus, which allowed them to sustain their offense when they couldn’t hit a basket for about 8 minutes in the second half. The refs called 31 total fouls in the second half (17 on Rutgers) and were able to go 17/21 from the free throw line in the second half.

Closing got ... interesting

Iowa had a 76-70 lead out of the final TV timeout. Yeboah made two free throws and then Bakari Evelyn immediately threw the ball away which led to a layup. (on which BK allowed an and-one; tough stretch for him) Then a five-second call with three timeouts in the holster and a Fredrick foul which sent Harper to the line. (tough stretch for Fredrick) And Iowa was down one within 16 game seconds.

Thankfully Fredrick and Wieskamp made those buckets. But this felt like the first time in a long while since Iowa missed Jordan Bohannon. I trust they’ll learn.

Next up: Monday, January 27th vs. Wisconsin Badgers