The 10th ranked Hawks (8-2, 2-1) went on the road to take on 14th ranked Rutgers (7-1, 3-1). Rutgers got a boost getting Ron Harper Jr back into their lineup. Harper had torched the Hawkeyes for an average of 24.0 ppg in his three previous contests against Iowa. Harper ended up with 13. The Hawkeyes didn’t look particularly sharp, but that was one of the biggest, most rewarding wins you will see. Iowa came out on top 77-75. Connor McCaffrey turned an ankle early in the game and did not return until a last-second inbounds pass. That’s a coach having faith in his kid, and being rewarded for it. Joe Wieskamp hit 1 of 2 free throws with 4 seconds left and all of Hawkville was holding its collective breath as Rutgers missed a runner that would have won the game.
Luka doing Luka things
Luka Garza showed off his old-school footwork on this play, as well as some athleticism and creativity. It was an incredible play at a pivotal time. Garza finished with 25 points on the day. As mentioned earlier, Connor McCaffrey left the game with an injury. Iowa got solid first-half minutes out of both Ahron Ulis and Tony Perkins. Their aggressiveness and energy gave the Hawks a boost. This bodes well for the future.
Keegan Murray was the difference (and made FT’s make me happy)
Iowa’s Keegan Murray continues to stuff the stat sheet for the Hawks. Murray finished with 14 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 blocks, 1 assist, 0 turnovers, and most importantly, 5-5 from the free throw line. Murray was the difference in this game.
This team found a way to win this game. There were about 12 chances in the last minute that could have gone against us. And they didn’t. Iowa found a way.
In addition to Keegan Murray’s big day, another difference in this game was the free throw line. The Hawkeyes got there 23 times (78.3%) against Rutger’s 12 (33.3%). Free throws win ball games.
Fran still needs to find the right combination for substitutions, the Hawks have to get more consistency out of players not named Garza (and Murray), and the Hawkeyes need to eliminate lazy passes (there were easily 3-4 in the first half that went down for breakaways), but all-in-all that was an incredible win against an excellent team at a difficult place to play (even with Covid).