Iowa never trailed but struggled maybe a little more than they should have against the no good, very bad Minnesota Gophers this afternoon at The Barn, as the Hawkeyes brought home a 68-56 win. The win puts Iowa at 16-9 on the year and 8-6 in Big Ten play.
Kris Murray lead the way for the Hawkeyes, scoring 28 points, despite it taking 12 makes on 27 shots. He added on 14 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks and assists apiece. Filip Rebraca was the only other Hawkeye who scored in double figures, tallying 16 points and 8 rebounds.
It was a rough day for Iowa from the field, as the Hawkeyes only shot 37.5% from the field. It allowed the Gophers, who shot 50% on the day, to stay closer in the game than they should have. Tony Perkins had another mild day, only scoring 7 points, which was enough to be Iowa’s third leading scorer. Fran McCaffery only brought Patrick McCaffery and Payton Sandfort off the bench, who scored 6 and 3 points, respectively, with Sandfort getting all of his points from the charity stripe, and going 0-3 from the field.
The game began with Perkins getting Iowa out to a 5-0 lead of his own making to get Iowa the early lead. Quickly that became an 11-2 lead after the first few minutes of play as Iowa surgically scored against the Gopher’s horrendous defense.
Iowa hit Minnesota with the press early as well, causing quick turnovers and even quicker baskets for the Hawkeyes. On the defensive end, it wasn’t necessarily a great performance defensively as much as it was the Gophers getting in their own way, getting called for multiple offensive fouls and just taking extremely low quality shots, and seemingly not even attempting to grab rebounds.
It would have been an even larger lead for the Hawkeyes early if they slowed down.the pace a bit and settled for solid shots, but even then, the Hawkeyes still entered the first media timeout up 16-6. From there, however, Iowa scored one more basket and then allowed the Gophers to go on a 7-0 run and cut the lead to 18-13 after the first 10 minutes of gameplay.
Minnesota clawed back from there, and would stick around for most of the game.
Iowa’s scoring woes got worse from there and Minnesota was able to hang around, thanks to shooting a 50% clip for the half, and get The Barn crowd back into the game, as suddenly Iowa’s lead had dwindled to only 2, 24-22 with 5 minutes left in the half. A huge reason why besides the weak performance from deep was Minnesota’s presence at the rim, blocking 5 shots in the first half to Iowa’s 1.
And yet, Iowa weathered every Gopher run — as they should have, ending the half forcing more turnovers via the press, but only entering the half up 32-29 and only shooting 33% for the half.
Iowa started the half with a great pass from Ulis to Murray for the early score, but Minnesota continued to stay right with the Hawkeyes as the poor shooting continued. But with right around 15 minutes left to play, Connor McCaffery secured a couple crucial steals that got Iowa off to a run to give them a bit more breathing room, going up 48-39 with 13 minutes left to play.
And yet still, Iowa let the Gophers stick around, only taking a 54-49 lead into the final 8 minutes of play. But dominance on the offensive glass proved key, and a Connor McCaffery 3-pointer got the Iowa lead back up to double-digits at 61-51 with 5:16 to play, forcing a Gopher timeout. Murray responded on Iowa’s next possession with an off-balance 3-pointer, and Iowa slowed things down from there, getting its largest lead of the game at 14 points with just over 2 minutes to play.
That proved to be the dealbreaker for the Gophers, who withered from there, and gave Iowa the win. Let’s just say Iowa was lucky that this was a terrible Minnesota team and that they walk away with a win, but man, they can’t afford to play many more games like that going forward.