No. 10 Iowa hosts Big Ten leader Northwestern

Northwestern Basketball

The No. 10 Iowa Hawkeyes look to get back in the win column when they host the Big Ten-leading Northwestern Wildcats on Tuesday night in Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes (7-2, 1-1 Big Ten) have dropped two of their last three games. They lost to No. 1 Gonzaga in South Dakota on Dec. 19, and then after beating Purdue, they lost on Christmas Day at Minnesota in overtime.

Iowa was up 80-73 on the Golden Gophers with 44 seconds remaining. But behind two 3-pointers by Marcus Carr and some missed free throws by the Hawkeyes, Minnesota came back to tie the game at 83-83 after 40 minutes.

In overtime, Minnesota nailed five 3-pointers — four by Brandon Johnson — to take control of the game and pull off the 102-95 upset.

“We’ve got to be tougher, we’ve got to be more connected,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “Our defense tonight was unacceptable.”

National Player of the Year frontrunner Luka Garza has had an incredible start to the 2020-21 season. Garza led the nation in points per game heading into Sunday’s action, averaging 28.8 on 62.7 percent shooting, including 52.9 percent from deep.

Garza is also averaging 10.0 rebounds per game and 2.1 blocks per contest.

In the loss to Minnesota, Garza put up his normal monster numbers — 32 points and 17 rebounds — but was not his most efficient from the field. He missed 16 of his 27 shots for his second-worst percentage (40.7percent) in a game this season.

The Wildcats (6-1, 3-0) have won their first three conference games for the first time since the 1967-68 season. They were 3-17 in the league last season.

Two of those wins have come against ranked opponents, including Michigan State. The Spartans, like Iowa, were the fourth-ranked team in the country when they played the Wildcats.

Northwestern’s latest victory saw the Wildcats overcome a late deficit to defeat No. 23 Ohio State.

Down 64-59 with four minutes remaining, Northwestern scored 12 points in the final few minutes. The biggest dagger came from the sweet stroke of Boo Buie, who nailed a 3-pointer with about a minute remaining to give the Wildcats a 71-68 lead.

“This is a heck of week for us from an energy standpoint,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. “In the span of six days, to have to play Michigan State, at Indiana, come home and play a real rugged, tough, well-coached Ohio State team, and to win all three of those games, shows a lot about the grit of our team.”

Buie is averaging 14.4 points per game on 46.4 percent shooting. Miller Kopp, who had a game-high 23 points against the Buckeyes, leads the team at 15.1 points per game and 55.9 percent shooting.

Buie and Kopp are also both shooting at least 50 percent from beyond the arc this season.

The Hawkeyes have not lost to the Wildcats since January 2017, having swept the past four matchups.

The closest Northwestern came to beating Iowa in that stretch was on Feb. 10, 2019 when Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon nailed a game-winning triple with just a few tenths of a second remaining to sink the Wildcats, 80-79.

–Field Level Media

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