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Iowa 96, Northwestern 73: Buckets

These Hawks, man

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Northwestern Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Five Hawkeyes scored in double figures in route to No. 5 Iowa’s ... rout of Northwestern, 96-73—the largest margin of victory in the Big Ten this season.

Wildcat point guard Chase Audige worked Iowa’s interior for an easy lay-in to make it 2-0 bad guys, but then Luka Garza, CJ Fredrick, and Joe Wieskamp combined for six straight Iowa points to remind everyone that Iowa has Luka Garza, CJ Fredrick, and Joe Wieskamp, while Northwestern... does not.

And really, that’s the story of this game. When Northwestern was throwing everything it had at the Hawkeyes—in the form of an 11-2 run midway through the first half, thanks to three consecutive threes from Boo Buie—Iowa threw out Pat McCaffery, Jack Nunge, and Keegan Murray alongside Garza and Jordan Bohannon with 10 minutes to go in the first frame. That stopped the Northwestern scoring real quick.

Shortly thereafter, Joe Toussaint and Connor McCaffery got back on the court, Iowa went on a 13-0 run while Northwestern enjoyed an 0-8 shooting spell, to make the score 41-29 good guys early on.

Fran McCaffery has a stable of horses at his disposal, and when lesser teams are able to exploit the slow-hoovedness of a clydesdale, he can throw out a colt to run laps around opposing ponies.

Ham-fisted equine comparisons aside, this Iowa team is really really good, and Northwestern’s early sheen has probably worn off. When the JoBo faucet is running cold, Fredrick, Garza and Wieskamp can answer a long-distance call. If Garza is getting doubled inside, Nunge can draw attention off him as Garza practices his NBA 15-footers. When you need someone to jump, you can count on Murray to say “how high?”

And all these guys can run Iowa’s offense to near-perfection. I was reminded of every scene in every basketball movie ever today, when the coach makes each player on the floor touch the ball before a shot can be attempted.

Much has been lamented about Iowa’s defense since the beginning of time. Right now, we have proof in front of our eyes that Fran is tinkering with units, groups, whatever you want to call it, to help his team get out of any sort of rut it can and will face come March.

The result is an eminently enjoyable brand of basketball, the amusement of which is increased ten fold when you’ve got a seven-footer who can do this:

A point guard who can do this:

And a guy off the bench like this:

The score read 49-37 at the break. Iowa opened the second half on a 13-2 run thanks to three consecutive threes from CJ, Bo, and Wiesy, and really, that was all he wrote.

I started drafting this after that sequence, and now it’s 92-63 as I look up at the score. Absolutely love seeing Ahron Ulis, Tony Perkins, Austin Ash, Michael Baer and Kris Murray on the floor during these moments.

Iowa is now in the driver’s seat of a five-game win streak and tied for first place in the conference following a Michigan loss to Minnesota last night. It’s scary to think Iowa is still getting better game after game, but I don’t think that’s a tough thought to sell.

The rest

  • Here’s who scored in double figures: Garza (17), Wieskamp (16), Fredrick (13), Nunge (12), and Bohannon (11). Garza also had 10 boards, while Murray dropped 8 while grabbing 7.
  • I mentioned it early on, but credit to this team distinguishing the Boo Buie fire before it got out of control.
  • One big takeaway for me—it’s nice to see Wieskamp have back-to-back great games.
  • Loved to see Iowa still press despite being up by 27.
  • These Hawks, man.