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BACK IN THE SADDLE: #15 IOWA 79, #25 RUTGERS 66

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After a rough stretch over the last two weeks, Iowa climbed back on the horse and got a much needed win

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

Does one man mean that much?

After being in and out, mainly out, of the lineup over the last six games, CJ Fredrick returned to the start and the #15 Iowa Hawkeyes (14-6, 8-5) added a tick to the win column with a 79-66 result over the #25 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (11-7, 7-7).

His impact goes beyond the box score, of course, mainly because it was a goose egg in the scoring column in 17 minutes. Despite leading much of the first half by double-digits, Iowa was teetering with a six-point lead and stagnant offensively midway through the second half. At that point, Fredrick

  • found Luka Garza for a layup
  • gathered the next possession’s defensive rebound and found Garza for a dunk

With the lead in double-digits, the teams continued trading baskets until a scramble drill sparked by a Keegan Murray preventing a turnover led to a wide open Garza dunk. Fredrick found him.

Perhaps it oversells Fredrick’s impact on the game and this team - a number of Hawks accumulated much better stats - but when Iowa needed plays, Fredrick made them.

As for Garza, it was another ho hum 21 point, 10 rebound effort in which he quickly drew four fouls on Rutgers’ centers. Unfortunately, Iowa struggled to get him going in the first half, scoring 8 points on 2/10 shooting in the stanza.

So what kept Iowa afloat in the first half? Joe Wieskamp did. He scored 12 of Iowa’s first 16 points on 5/6 shooting and kept the pedal to the metal, scoring 16 in the period and making all three of his treys. He finished with a season-high 26 points and grabbed 10 boards. He looked the part and leaned into his hot shooting (5/7 from deep) between the plays highlighted above from Fredrick.

People want to see some killer instinct out of Joe, and he showed it tonight.

The first half was Iowa’s best defensive half of the season when they needed it the most. Iowa’s bench combined for two blocks and three steals, taking part in seven forced turnovers from Rutgers. When they play together with Luka Garza, the seem incredibly fast because they’re so long.

Keegan Murray, returned to his bench role and was an absolute star in it, with 10 points and six boards, four offensive. Pat McCaffery provided high-impact minutes (second on team with +16) with five points and three assists. Jack Nunge did Jack Nunge things.

The only other Hawkeye to score was Jordan Bohannon, who had 12 points on 3/5 shooting from 3.

Other Notes

  • The game got started incredibly slow, perhaps as a way to enable those caught up in the double overtime Indiana/Northwestern game not too much in the dark. It was 3-3 after ~5 minutes.
  • Myles Johnson returned with two fouls with 8:54 remaining in the first half and promptly had his third called on him with 5:40 left.
  • It was an overall ugly shooting night but Iowa made the right shots, going 11/23 from three vs. 6/28 from the Scarlet Knights and 16/20 from the charity stripe against their 4/6. That’s a difference of 27 points.
  • Rutgers opened the second half in zone and Jordan Bohannon promptly hit a 3. Keegan Murray & Patty Mac added treys of their own. It was a little after this when Big Ten Network flashed a “largest second half lead” graphic on Iowa’s recent losses. Thankfully it did not foreshadow the result.
  • Both teams were in the bonus with 10:18 left. Four fouls were called after that. There were some genuinely gnarly stretches from tonight’s game evidenced by five fouls being called in the span of 53 seconds.
  • I don’t get Fran’s guard rotation right now even with Fredrick having three fouls early in the second half and Connor McCaffery receiving medical treatment. A weird travel in the waning seconds of the first half blanked Joe Toussaint from playing time in the second half as Ahron Ulis and Tony Perkins spelled the two starters above. They played well, managing Rutgers’ full-court pressure, but Iowa did struggle offensively as Rutgers began digging themselves out of the hole.
  • Robbie Hummel’s worst game that I have seen, mainly because I just didn’t agree with some of his assessments on 50/50 plays. Must be the stringent dress code keeping oxygen from getting to his brain. Still a great commentator, though.