If you clicked on the game last night and saw the Iowa Hawkeyes (11-6, 3-3) start against the Minnesota Golden Gophers (12-5, 3-3), I’m not sure if anyone would have blamed you for turning it off immediately.
They got down 14-3 inside of 4 minutes even after Fran McCaffery called a very early timeout. Iowa’s backcourt (Josh Dix got the start for Patrick McCaffery) looked all sorts of discombobulated with a the Gophers press (Elijah Hawkins had 3 quick steals) which led to runouts and multiple slips Dix. The Barn was kinda rockin!
But they figured it out offensively, which led halfcourt sets from Minnesota where they settled for long jumpers and Iowa had the lead before the second media timeout. Iowa led the final 30-plus minutes of gameplay, which is great to see against an improving Minnesota team. It was their third straight win in Minneapolis, with the previous loss occurring in the COVID season Christmas Day game when Marcus Carr went off. Don’t miss that guy!
For the Hawks, Josh Dix played another really good game and sensational second half to the tune of 21 points (his second straight career high) and 5 assists. Ben Krikke did Ben Krikke things and led the Hawkeyes with 25 points on 11/17 shooting. Minnesota defended the three point line relentlessly and Iowa counteracted with a number of stellar cuts. They shot 53.6% all game and 60% in the second half. They went 3/13 from deep. Scratch where it itches!
Fran McCaffery snagged victory 272 at Iowa
272 is a lot of victories any way you slice it. It also takes a long time to amass that amount of wins, even if you’re winning 30 games a season which very few people are (Bill Self has 273 wins since the 2014-15 season - 10 seasons!). That Fran has stuck around this long given the starting point he has speaks to the consistency with which Iowa has performed season-to-season.
We saw the rare soft side from Fran after the game when he talked about his relationship with Dr. Tom Davis and celebration with the team.
He did everything in his power to get the win. The early TO. The commitment to ball movement & easy twos. The tightening of the rotation in the second half (3rd straight game he’s done that). Hell he even won the battle with Big Ten Refs even though he was inches away from getting T’d up*.
* did you know that at one point Dawson Garcia went 11/14 from the FT line while Iowa was 7/10 before the last 1:12? He was getting some insane calls.
Starters carried the Hawks to victory in the second half
With Fran tightening the rotation again, he leaned on three guys - Krikke (20 minutes), Dix (19), and Sandfort (17) - as the mainstays. Foul trouble kept Owen Freeman and Brock Harding spelled Tony Perkins.
With a slow shooting night from Sandfort, Dix picked up the slack, going 5/7 from the floor for 14 points. He nailed two threes and heat checked a third. There was a time in the frame where he was really looking to get to his spots and was keeping Iowa’s lead around 10.
Krikke got Iowa’s offense going early in the half with 9 straight points and Tony Perkins, a game after 15 assists, had 4 straight baskets inside of the 5:00-mark, to put the nail in the coffin of the Goofs.
Fran STOLE minutes with the subs throughout the first half
Considering the early deficit & shaky turnovers, going to freshmen Bryce Harding, Ladji Dembele, & Pryce Sandfort for 21 minutes collectively felt like a huge risk. Hell, none of them scored in their time on the floor. But they didn’t look particularly out of place, with Dembele and Harding being +10 & +11, respectively, and doing the little things we have seen past Hawkeye teams lack.
Much of this was a function of Dasonte Bowen’s solid work and Fran doing well to keep the group out there with scorers in Krikke and Payton Sandfort.
Next up: Saturday, 1/20, vs Purdue Boilermakers at 1:00p (Peacock?)