Iowa rebounds against Rutgers, wins 81-47


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Just about everything that Iowa did wrong against Northwestern in its 66-61 loss on Feb 15, it corrected Thursday night against Rutgers, defeating the Big Ten basement-dwelling Scarlet Knights, 81-47.

Whereas the Northwestern game was stagnant and included a slow start on Iowa’s end, its latest win saw the Hawkeyes storm out of the gate and keep their foot on the pedal on both ends of the floor.

For center Adam Woodbury, the difference was simple.

“We made more shots,” he said after the game. “So we took better shots. I think our defense set the tempo. We wanted to play our game.”

Iowa played its game. It started strong, got out in transition, and took the ball aggressively to the rim on offense. As a result, the Hawkeyes were better in just about every facet of the game.

Storming out to 23-8 lead before the 10-minute mark of the first half set the tone for the night. Iowa not only forced Rutgers to turn the ball over, the Hawkeyes turned those mistakes into points, scoring 20 points on Rutgers’ 19 turnovers.

“They have some guys that can make plays themselves,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “But again, it comes down to we got consecutive stops and we got some run-outs, and I thought we executed.”

What made Iowa’s offense so successful before its recent two-game skid was movement and the Hawkeyes’ ability to get the ball in the paint and convert. Against Rutgers, that re-emerged.

The Hawkeye frontcourt of Aaron White, Jarrod Uthoff, Gabe Olaseni, and Woodbury combined for 46 points on 16-of-28 shooting, 19 rebounds, 5 assists, and just 1 turnover.

Their play helped the Hawkeyes out-rebound Rutgers, 39-33. And although McCaffery noted he would like to see Iowa give up fewer offensive rebounds — Rutgers had 11 — rebounding was the only statistical category in which the Scarlet Knights competed with Iowa.

“I think that’s who we are,” McCaffery said about Iowa’s inside game. “You know, you want to kind of do that every game and establish it, like you said, and then also mix it up.”

Likewise, Iowa’s defense returned to form, forcing Rutgers to shoot just 32.7 percent from the field, 22.7 percent from 3-point range, all while not fouling. Then Hawks sent the Scarlet Knights to the free-throw line just 13 times — six of which they converted.

Iowa also added 13 steals, the second-most this season and most in conference play.

“I thought we did pretty well,” White said. “I thought our press could have been a little better … but other than that, I thought we were pretty active.”

After halftime, the game itself was far from competitive.

Iowa nearly outscored Rutgers’ game point total in just one half — 47 to 42.

This lead gave way to some sloppy play in the second half — turnovers and Rutgers offensive rebounds, among other things, none of the mistakes catastrophic enough to have any real effect on the end result.

Iowa walked away as clearly the superior team. In fact it was the biggest margin of victory against a Big Ten team since McCaffery took over at Iowa.

Was there any extra satisfaction from knowing that?

“That’s kind of irrelevant to me as long as we win,” McCaffery said. “I just want my guys to compete, and play hard, and execute, and win. They did that.”  

Follow @JacobSheyko on Twitter for updates, news, and analysis about the Iowa basketball team.

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