Rapid Recap: No. 5 Iowa 96, Northwestern 73

Coach+Chris+Collins+reacts+to+the+on-court+action.+The+Cats+surrendered+49+first+half+points+to+No.+5+Iowa+and+suffered+their+fifth+consecutive+loss.%0A

Joshua Hoffman/Daily senior staffer

Coach Chris Collins reacts to the on-court action. The Cats surrendered 49 first half points to No. 5 Iowa and suffered their fifth consecutive loss.

John Riker, Assistant Sports Editor


Men’s Basketball


Four Sundays ago, Northwestern upset No. 4 Michigan State in Welsh-Ryan Arena, their first win against a top-five opponent since January 27, 1979.

Against No. 5 Iowa on the same floor, the Wildcats (6-2, 3-5 in Big Ten) gave the Hawkeyes (12-2, 6-1)an early scare but couldn’t keep their upset hopes alive. Iowa center Luka Garza scored 17 points with 10 rebounds in the first half alone and a prolific Iowa offensive performance dealt NU its fifth consecutive loss, 96-73, and a fifth straight by double digits.

The Iowa offense was as advertised, but the Cats’ offensive rhythm kept them in the game early on. Sophomore guard Boo Buie, mired in a shooting slump over the past five games, hit four three-pointers in a four-minute stretch, while guard Ryan Greer sunk two more treys as part of a career-high 10 points. A Greer free throw with 7:57 left in the first half gave NU a 29-28 lead.

Immediately after taking the lead, NU’s offense went cold and endured a scoring drought that lasted nearly six minutes. The offensive struggles allowed the Hawkeyes to open up a double digit lead. By halftime, the Cats were down 49-37.

NU’s downward spiral continued in the second half. Iowa started the second frame with a 13-2 run and didn’t look back, with sharpshooters Jordan Bohannon and Joe Wieskamp taking over the offensive load. The Cats’ struggles culminated in one of their most lopsided defeats of the season, 96-73.

Takeaways:

1. Stopping Garza
The 2019-20 Big Ten Player of the Year and All-American selection put up 27 points in his last appearance at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Stopping Garza was a point of emphasis for the Cats, with coach Chris Collins dedicating Pete Nance and a help defender to contain the Washington, D.C. native. The strategy had mixed results. Garza dominated in the post and on the boards, while the attention inside opened up Iowa’s perimeter shooters for an efficient 6-12 first-half showing from behind the arc. By the second half, Garza barely saw the floor and didn’t score in eight minutes, with Iowa coach Fran McCaffery content to conserve the Hawkeyes’ superstar.

2. Defense Optional
Entering the day, the Cats were 6-1 when holding opponents to under 80 points and 0-4 when surrendering 80 or more. NU’s three-point shooting helped the Cats keep pace, but the defense couldn’t make stops. Iowa shot 61 percent from the field in the first half and made six of 12 three-point attempts. By halftime, the Hawkeyes had piled on 49 points. Iowa’s offense did not let up even with Garza resting for most of the half, while the Cats’ shooting performance regressed further. Iowa’s 96 points was most by an NU opponent this season, topping the Hawkeyes’ 87-72 home victory over the Cats on December 30.

3. Hot, Then Cold From Three
For the reason behind the Cats’ lead over the No. 5 team in the nation, look no further than three-point shooting. NU opened the game shooting 6-for-11 from three, in contrast to its 1-11 start in last week’s loss to No. 23 Ohio State. After Buie subbed out, the Cats lost their footing and couldn’t regain their rhythm. NU missed its next 10 shots from the three-point line. Iowa took full advantage and made 10 of its first 19 three-point attempts. The Cats finished the day shooting an atrocious 9-33 from three. The Cats’ three-point shooting was one of the reasons behind NU’s historic 3-0 start to Big Ten play, but recent struggles from three have dug the Cats into a deeper hole in their blowout losses.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @john__riker

Comments