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Iowa 84, Rutgers 74: Revenge

Iowa overcomes a slow start — and multiple comeback attempts by Rutgers — to avenge one of their toughest losses of the season to secure a spot in the BTT semi-finals

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament- Rutgers vs Iowa Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Iowa Hawkeyes overcame a slow start and an early deficit thanks to the play of Keegan Murray and Tony Perkins to defeat Rutgers, 84-74 in the quarterfinal of the Big Ten Tournament.

Murray was phenomenal, scoring 26 points (18 coming in the first half alone) on 10-19 shooting, grabbing 8 rebounds, dishing two assists, and logging a steal and a block. It continued an incredible run for Murray, who has now surpassed Luka Garza’s single season record for points. He was assisted greatly by Tony Perkins and Jordan Bohannon, who each scored 16 points, and Kris Murray added in 9 points as well.

The Hawkeyes responded well to every run from the Scarlet Knights, thanks in particular to a switch to zone defense midway through the first half, and a large emphasis on rebounding. The Hawkeyes weren’t as sharp from deep as yesterday, but that would have been hard to do. Instead, Fran McCaffery’s crew scored in multiple ways, including the midrange.

The Scarlet Knights started things off on a 12-5 run, as Iowa struggled to get moving offensively and turned the ball over. Jordan Bohannon gave and took away, making two 3 pointers early to keep Iowa within striking distance as Rutger’s lead grew, but struggled to run the point, gaining 3 quick turnovers.

As a result, Fran quickly shifted to his more defense oriented lineup featuring both Murray brothers, Bohannon, Connor and Perkins. But still, turnovers plagued the Hawkeyes, giving the ball away six times in the first 10 minutes of play.

But another lineup change, removing Bohannon and Perkins and adding in Sandfort and Toussaint, quickly fueled the Hawkeyes as they stormed back, capitalized by an insane coast-to-coast play from Keegan to cap off a 9-0 run:

From there, Iowa rolled, jumping out to a 28-20 lead as part of a 17-3 run with the switch to zone defense on the Scarlet Knights. Quickly, the Iowa lead jumped out to double-digits as Rutgers could not crack Iowa’s defense…until they could, when Fran switched his lineup, bringing back Rebraca and Bohannon, and Rutgers cut the lead to six. But Kris Murray hit a 3 after a lineup change again, and the Hawks headed into half up 41-32.

Iowa started the second half with the starters back in and got right back to work, getting its lead back to double-digits. Rutgers attempted to stay in the game and cut into Iowa’s lead, but the Hawkeyes had the answer every time, scoring efficiently from pretty much every spot on the floor.

It looked like Iowa would cruise to victory, getting out to as much as an 18 point lead, but with 7 minutes remaining, the Hawkeyes hit a bit of an offensive slump, shooting short, and the Scarlet Knights were suddenly within 10 as the Hawkeyes went ice cold. A crucial midrange jumper from Perkins stopped the bleeding, getting Iowa back up by 10 as the clock ticked closer to zero. But key rebounds — on both ends of the floor but particularly on offense — that cut down clock, and a big steal and slam from Keegan, sealed the deal for the Hawkeyes. The icing on the cake was an offensive rebound turned pass to Murray to pass to a wide open Perkins from deep, to get Iowa back up 15.

After the whistle, Connor went up to Mulcachy, getting his second technical of the game and getting ejected. It was one of six technical fouls of the game, including two on the Rutgers strength and conditioning coach, who was also ejected late in the second half. The additional technical fouls proved to be the x-factor that Rutgers couldn’t overcome, and Iowa took the win.

Up next...the Indiana Hoosiers, who are surging in this Big Ten Tournament after defeating No. 1 seed Illinois earlier today. It should be an interesting rubber match for the two teams, with a spot in the Big Ten tournament final on the line.

Go Hawks.