Your No. 21 Iowa basketball team scored the final 13 points in a tug-of-war against the HATED Minnesota Gilded Rodents to come away with yet another Big Ten victory, 58-55.
The Hawkeyes started big with the absence of CJ Fredrick. Ryan Kriener got the nod and Iowa absolutely pounded the paint before Minnesota could sniff out a strategy to stop or slowdown Luka Garza and Kriener. The two combined for 34 points and 15 rebounds and proved useful in slowing Minnesota’s Daniel Oturu, a guy who took advantage of his opportunity to go up against the best big man in the country.
Iowa amassed what seemed like a comfortable 8-0 lead at the time, thanks to Garza. Four minutes into the game it was 10-2 Iowa with Garza accounting for all Hawkeye scoring.
Oturu did his best to assert himself on equal footing as Garza, and eventually found a way to slow down Iowa’s big man while generating scoring himself. He and Alihan Demir broke Iowa’s interior game and chiseled away as Iowa was forced to look outside for scoring.
Based on Iowa’s 1-6 clip from three in the first half (and an abysmal 4-13 overall) the Hawkeyes were not able to find it there.
The lead that Iowa’s bigs assembled finally crumbled with 4 1⁄2 minutes to play in the first, during a stretch where the Gophers went on a 14-0 run and effectively slammed the door on Iowa’s scoring opportunities for the remainder of the first frame, taking a 31-26 lead with them at the break.
The second half featured more see-sawing as Garza once again kept the Iowa team afloat. Connor McCaffery, Joe Wieskamp and Joe Toussaint’s talents were rendered mostly ineffective for the entirety of the game. Toussaint was benched in favor of Bakari Evelyn for the final 15 minutes, and the graduate transfer guard had the chance to vindicate that decision.
Things seemed hopeless after an Oturu slam over Cordell Pemsl halfway through the second half to give Minnesota a 41-33 lead, but Pemsl and Evelyn found a 7-0 run themselves and turned up the heat in the barn.
With 7 minutes left in the game, Oturu drew Garza’s fourth foul sending him to the bench. Connor McCaffery then hit a three to tie the game and put some life back into Iowa. Oturu, Gabe Kalscheur and Payton Willis then went on an 8-0 run and the knife found a place back near Iowa’s heart.
Luckily Iowa has Luka Garza, and he’s really good.
He drained a 3 with 2:21 on the clock to make it 55-54 Minnesota. Kriener and Evelyn then drew fouls following two defensive stops for the Hawkeyes to give Iowa a two point lead. Marcus Carr had a chance to tie it up with 3 seconds on the clock but Kriener blocked the shot. Garza fouled out on Oturu during the rebound, but Oturu missed the front end of a 1&1, and that’s all she wrote.
Iowa now has 18 wins on the season, and is 9-6 in the conference. There are five big games left in the year, and even in the face of incredible adversity, this Iowa team just doesn’t quit.
- Iowa is currently without three starters, which is absolutely wild.
- This was perhaps the worst game I’ve ever seen out of Joe Wieskamp. He finished with just two points on 1-7 shooting (he did pull down 8 boards, all on the defensive end) but it didn’t seem like Fran was doing anything to create opportunities for Wieskamp. Without Fredrick, I don’t think Iowa can survive another game where Joe’s game is rendered so ineffective.
- Pemsl and Evelyn had really solid games, with the former opening the door for Iowa’s comeback and the latter closing it out by drawing a foul and sinking his shots.
- Garza had his 11th straight game of scoring at least 20 points. He ended with 24, 8 boards and a big block.