Iowa Basketball: Takeaways from Hawkeyes’ gritty win over Rutgers

The Iowa basketball team held on in thrilling fashion to defeat the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Saturday. Takeaways from the Hawkeyes’ gritty victory.

The 10th ranked Iowa Hawkeyes (9-2) defeated the 14th ranked Rutgers Scarlet Knights (7-2) by a final score of 77-75 on Saturday afternoon at Rutgers Athletic Center.

We may have just witnessed Iowa basketball’s best win of the season so far. After falling behind multiple times, without one of their best players in Connor McCaffery, the Hawkeyes never wavered against a top 15 team.

Here are the biggest takeaways and observations from Iowa’s thrilling win:

  • Let’s start out by stating the obvious: Luka Garza is the National Player of the Year. He willed the Hawkeyes to victory today.
  • Garza led all scorers with 25 points. 15 of his 25 came in the second half. He couldn’t be stopped down low.
  • We saw how important Connor McCaffery is to this team. He exited early in the game with an ankle injury. His vision and passing ability was missed greatly.
  • Additionally, McCaffery rarely turns the ball over. Which leads to this stat… Iowa entered the game with the 4th-lowest turnover percentage in the nation, averaging 11 per game. They had 15 total turnovers against Rutgers.
  • Welcome to the Big Ten, Keegan Murray. The true freshman is going to be special as the season goes on.
  • The Hawkeyes don’t win this game without Murray’s presence. He was Iowa’s second-leading scorer with 14 points, 12 of which came in the second half. He made two clutch free throws with 16 seconds remaining to give the Hawkeyes the lead. Murray was 5-for-5 on free throw attempts.
  • This game really came down to free throws. Iowa was 78 percent from the line. Rutgers was just 33 percent.
  • Bohannon has finally found his stroke again. He made some big shots today.
  • Iowa was carved up defensively the entire game. Rutgers exploited the Hawkeyes’ zone look on multiple occasions for open 3-point looks.
  • The Hawkeyes went on a 10-0 run toward the end of the first half with the following lineup: Jordan Bohannon, Tony Perkins, Ahron Ulis, Luka Garza and Jack Nunge. If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is.
  • Big rebound from Nunge off a missed free throw with 3:09 remaining in the first half, which created a second-chance 3-point opportunity for Bohannon (which he converted).
  • Not sure why Nunge didn’t get more minutes down the stretch. Joe Wieskamp and the rest of Iowa’s small ball lineup was getting eaten alive on the glass.
  • Speaking of Wieskamp, he had a tough day shooting (2-of-9) and wasn’t very effective at the free throw line (4-of-7). He finished with just eight points.
  • After today, can anyone question Iowa’s mental toughness in close games?
  • Not that anyone was arguing, but there’s little question that Iowa basketball is a top 10 team after that performance.

Up next: The Hawkeyes take on the Maryland Terrapins on the road on Thursday, Jan. 7. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 pm CT. TV info has not yet been announced.