The Iowa Hawkeyes snapped a two game losing streak, and moved to 13-8 after completing the season sweep against Rutgers on Sunday, Jan. 29. Kris Murray led the charge for the Hawkeyes, as he matched his points to the number on his back: 24.
Ahron Ulis wasn’t too far behind with 16, while Tony Perkins and Connor McCaffery both had 11. But the man of the hour, Patrick McCaffery, had nine, as he was perfect from behind the arc (3-3).
It was quite a sight to see in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, as this was Patty Mac’s first game back since Penn State on Jan. 1. The match had a white-out theme for Coaches Against Cancer, and the Iowa crowd showed out. McCaffery took a leave of absence for mental health reasons, supported fully by the Hawkeye fan base. After rumors of his return yesterday, McCaffery delivered in exciting fashion.
For the Scarlet Knights, Aundre Hyatt led the team with 16, shooting 50% from the field. Rutgers’ big man Cliff Omoruyi was just a point behind with 15, as well as three blocks. Paul Mulcahy added 11, but completed the double double with 13 assists.
Despite the valiant performance, the Scarlet Knights travel back to Piscataway with one more loss than they wanted. This game makes them 14-7 on the season, and 6-4 in the Big 10 conference.
The major keys today for Iowa were to break through Rutgers’ extremely tough defense, to stay hot from behind the arc, and improve from the charity stripe. In the Hawks’ most recent game against Michigan State, they lost a close one by two points, and went 6-13 from the free throw line.
In yesterday’s game, Iowa shot 85% from the line, a much improved percentage from their last bout. Throughout the season, the Scarlet Knights had only allowed an average of 58 points scored by opposing teams, displaying their suffocating defense. The Hawkeyes surpassed that in their first meeting on Jan. 8 by a score of 76-65, and smashed that total again today with 93.
Iowa will take on the Northwestern Wildcats next on Tuesday, Jan. 31, in another Big 10 showdown. The Hawks were supposed to play Northwestern on Jan. 18, but the game was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. The Hawks will look to pile on a second consecutive win, but not if the 15-5 Wildcats have anything to say about it. With PMac back in uniform, Iowa will have a good shot at taking them down; but it won’t be easy.