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New Jersey double: Iowa 93, Rutgers 82

Behind hot shooting, including Patrick McCaffery in his return to the court, the Hawkeyes scored the highest point total for a Scarlet Knights’ opponent...again

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

There’s no place like home?

Maybe. But there’s no opponent like Rutgers, as the Iowa Hawkeyes (13-8, 5-5) once against posted a season-high for a Scarlet Knights opponent, winning 93-82. Where the offense failed them against Michigan State was nowhere to be found tonight as they were lights out from three and the free throw line.

It didn’t open that way, though, as turnovers and errant shooting plagued Iowa early as it took nearly four minutes for the Hawks to get on the board and opened down 8-2 as they turned the ball over early and often.

Though it took longer than the first matchup in New Jersey, multiple Hawkeyes made shots from deep to keep Rutgers at attention defensively, including Ahron Ulis, Tony Perkins, and Patrick McCaffery who played his first game in four weeks to the delight of Hawkeye fans.

(Pat returning was the story from this game and his play backed it up with 9 points on 3/5 shooting in a tidy 13 minutes. For good measure, he added two assists, a steal, and a block.)

The hot shooting seesawed the scoreline as Iowa was able to get their first lead on Patrick’s three and continually attacked the paint despite the turnovers - they had eight in the first half - and otherwise bleak scoring inside. The dribble drive opened up the three and Iowa took advantage with 8/16 shooting from deep in the first half from seven different Hawkeyes. Ulis was the only Hawk with two in the first half and finished with 16 points on 5/9 shooting.

Though Rutgers kept pace for much of the first half, Iowa was able to pull away going into the break with an 11-2 run in the final four minutes of the stanza. During that time, Filip Rebrača was off the court after a suspect technical foul which led to his second personal of the game. Big Ten refs, man.

Much of the second half was played in that entertaining zone where Iowa’s lead hovered around double digits as both teams scored with relative ease. Patrick came on and hit two straight threes but was matched shot for shot by Andre Hyatt. Iowa hit a slight dry spell which allowed another Hyatt three & fastbreak layup from Cam Spencer to cut Iowa’s deficit to two.

After a Fran McCaffery timeout, Iowa couldn’t capitalize on offense and sent Dean Rieber to the line where he went just 1/2. Rebrača got Iowa back on track with four points on two possessions. A Josh Dix three got the lead back to eight with 6:37 remaining. Dix continued his run of very nice play with 8 points on 3/4 shooting and an assist. He also had, from my view, very nice defense notching a block and keeping Spencer in check, as well.

Iowa’s offense was stuck in mud a bit, as they leaned on set plays to no avail under four minutes to try and run out the clock. The lead was cut to five before Perkins went 2/2 at the line and a Connor McCaffery dagger three in the face of Clifford Omoruyi to get it to 85-75.

Iowa went 8/8 the rest of the way at the line to put up the most points a Rutgers’ opponent has scored since they allowed 91 in the 2021 conference tournament to Illinois. Love to see it.

I’d be remiss to recap if I didn’t mention Kris Murray’s symmetric play. He had 12 in each half for a clean 24 on 8/16 shooting and was great in getting Caleb McConnell into foul trouble, especially in the second half. Iowa did a nice job drawing fouls and went 29/34 at the line. Performance there and from deep (12/24) buoyed an otherwise ugly game from the field as they went 12/36 from two.

The Hawkeyes will face Northwestern on Tuesday to keep this run of strong home play going.