No. 20 Iowa seeks another conference win against Northwestern
Anyone can have a great game and beat a top five team, as Iowa did on Feb. 1 when it stopped 5th-ranked Michigan 74-59.
On Thursday night, Iowa did what many teams aren't able to do in its 77-72 Big 10 Conference win at Indiana - back up a big win by winning the next game.
That sets up the No. 20 Hawkeyes for a possible three-game winning streak in an early Sunday evening tip against Northwestern at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.
At 18-5 overall and 7-5 in the conference, Iowa sits in sixth place, 1 ½ games behind fourth-place Maryland. A conference title might be a long shot, but a top four finish and a double bye in the conference tournament next month remain in play.
Hawkeyes coach Fran McCaffery, whose 169th win with the program surpassed Lute Olson to make him Iowa's second all-time winningest coach, was appreciative of his team's focus following the Michigan victory.
"Any win on the road in this league, historically, is hard to come by, especially here," he said. "They're coming off a big road win, and we're coming off a big win. We're thrilled with how we played and how we played together. It just makes the next one bigger."
Iowa played well at Indiana, hitting 45 percent of its field goal tries and draining 10 3-pointers. The Hoosiers shot nearly 50 percent from the field, but the Hawkeyes were able to force 12 turnovers and convert those into 19 points, which made the difference.
They also had terrific games from Jordan Bohannon and Tyler Cook, who combined for 46 points, 25 from Bohannon. Eleven of Bohannon's points came in the final 91 seconds, as he drilled two 3-pointers and then hit 5 of 6 free throws as Indiana unsuccessfully played the fouling game.
"I tried to get the ball towards the end of the game and tried to make some plays," Bohannon said.
While Iowa kept its recent surge going, Northwestern (12-10, 3-8) experienced perhaps the low point of its season Monday night with a 59-52 home loss to Penn State. The Nittany Lions entered the game winless in 10 conference games, but the Wildcats could only convert 31.7 percent of their field goal tries.
Leading scorer Vic Law, who averages 15 points per game, hit just 3 of 17 shots to continue a recent skid. Law has made only 20 of 87 shots in his last eight games, going a paltry 6 of 38 from the 3-point line.
"We need Vic to be aggressive," Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. "Guys are struggling. We're scoring in the low 50s. Look around. Your weapons have to be aggressive. Early in the year, before he got a little banged up with his knee, he was close to a 20 point a game scorer. We need him to stay aggressive and keep his confidence up."
This will be the teams' second meeting of the year. The Hawkeyes won 73-63 on January 9 in Evanston, Ill., getting 19 points from freshman Joe Wieskamp.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 9, 2019