Shortly after last Thursday’s comeback victory over Indiana, Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery said one of the most important points was that his team was struggling, but this time they won. I said that. The Hawkeyes have been their own worst enemy lately, digging a big early pit and having to climb out of it, but Indiana’s victory felt like a potential turning moment. But he had only one way to prove it. Another strong performance, this time on the streets of Rutgers on Sunday afternoon.
The perceived clash of styles paved the way for an uptempo game suitable for Hawkeyes. Still, the Scarlett Knights were well up to the challenge of matching the pace, and the two of her Big Ten teams traded body his blows for hours at the Jersey Mikes Arena. Balanced in the second half of the game, Iowa needed a spark offensively and found one in an unlikely location: Peyton Sandfort. The sophomore saw a bounce-back game against Indiana and continued it with a career-high 22 points on Sunday, with Chris his Murray scoring his 17 points and Philip his Rebraca his 16 points slashing him. Iowa earned his 76-65 victory over Rutgers.
Since entering play in the Big Ten, poor first-half starts have been a constant topic of discussion throughout the programme. On Sunday, the Hawkeyes attacked both ends of the floor and didn’t give up. Iowa took his 8-0 lead within four minutes of play, while the Rutgers defensively went 0-3 in his end and he recorded three turnovers.
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The offensive run continued, with Ahron Ulis’ 3-pointer putting all five Iowa starters in the points column within the first six minutes of game play, and Iowa assisting six of the first seven baskets. Did. But as the half lasted, Hawkeye’s frontcourt became a hot topic.
Senior center Phillip Levraka had the toughest matchup of the day against Rutgers big man Clifford Omolui. With Conor McCaffery and Chris Murray in second half foul trouble, Levraka played all 20 minutes of the first half, finishing with a team-high 12 points and 7 rebounds. Second and his third leading scorer is Murray with his 9 points and sophomore Payton his Sandfort with his 8, continuing his strong play from last Thursday’s game against Indiana.
However, the first half was not without adversity. The Hawkeyes won him comfortably 30-17 and he finished the first half with 9:11, but the Rutgers took a 10-2 lead from him with about five minutes remaining before he cut the lead to five. I was. Murray and McCaffery came off the bench with his three minutes remaining, he committed two fouls each, and McCaffery his coach chose an unusual line-up. The group closed out the first half with him on a 5-0 run over his three minutes, and Iowa gave him a 42-30 lead at halftime. Conversely, the Hawkeyes have faced double-digit halftime deficits in their last three games.
The Hawkeyes survived an expected surge of openings by Rutgers in the first minutes of the second half, actually extending their lead to 55-38 with 15:07 remaining. However, Iowa’s offense hit a roadblock midway through the second half, allowing Rutgers to close the gap.
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Iowa postpones Rutgers comeback
Iowa’s hot first-half shooting (52/39 split) became selfish during a scoring drought that lasted nearly seven minutes in the second half. Meanwhile, Rutgers scored his 12-0 run to cut the lead to five with him about nine minutes remaining. But as the Scarlet Knights were about to complete their comeback, Iowa responded with a big shot of their own. The source was the Sandfort Hawkeye had been waiting for.
The Waukee-born sniper has been in a notable slump for much of this season, but was Iowa’s most clutch player in the second half. His three-pointer at the 8:34 mark ended the aforementioned scoring drought and returned the lead to his eight. He then scored Iowa’s next eight points, extending the lead to double digits, 66-55 with 5:04 remaining.
Iowa’s defense held tight in the final minutes as the Rutgers never came closer than five points. Despite the size disadvantage, the Hawkeyes defended Rutgers from second-chance points in the stretch, grabbing Uris and Sandfort’s free throws and putting it on the ice for good.
After a string of quality wins, Iowa’s basketball season suddenly changed. And if Sandfort’s recent contributions can be consistent, Hawkeye could rejoin the Big Ten debate. Now another big game is looming: Thursday at home against Michigan To do.