Iowa 77, Northwestern 70: Streaks Snapped

By RossWB on February 25, 2018 at 10:11 pm
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© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
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Iowa snapped a six-game losing streak on Sunday night with a 77-70 victory over Northwestern that mostly wasn't as close as the final score suggests. Iowa had a double-digit lead from roughly the 12 minute mark of the first half to the four minute mark of the second half, when a Scottie Lindsey three cut Iowa's lead to nine. Northwestern never got closer than eight points after that, though, so it's hard to say that Iowa's victory was really in jeopardy. Iowa built a big early lead thanks to a 24-6 Iowa run that broke the game open. Iowa was unconscious from behind the arc during that stretch, with Jordan Bohannon making three triples, Isaiah Moss making a pair, and Luka Garza getting in on the act with a made three as well. That stretch gave Iowa a 30-12 lead and that dug a hole that Northwestern was never able to escape. 

Jordan Bohannon was the star of the game for Iowa -- and definitely the start of the first half, as he had 20 points on 6/9 shooting from deep before the break. Bohannon also had six rebounds and five assists (against just one turnover). It was one of his finest games of the season and a much-needed bounce-back after his worst game of the year, a 2-point outing against Minnesota on Wednesday night. Bohannon cooled off in the second half (he had just five points on 1/5 shooting), but other players were able to pick up the slack. Luka Garza's energy and shot-making (around the rim and on the perimeter) was also a big part of Iowa's hot start and he had an excellent game overall, with 18 points on 6/10 shooting and five rebounds. Tyler Cook also had an excellent all-around game, with 14 points on 5/7 shooting, 11 rebounds, and a career-high six assists. That assist total for Cook is emblematic of Iowa's strong ball movement tonight (especially in the first half): Iowa did an excellent job of moving the ball and getting open looks tonight; 16 of their 25 made field goals were assisted. Isaiah Moss was the final Hawkeye in double figures, with 12 points on 4/8 shooting (2/3 from outside). 

Northwestern actually out-shot Iowa on the game, thanks to the Wildcats heating up after a cold start and Iowa cooling off after their own hot start -- the Wildcats made 47% of their shots from the field and 52% from 3-point range (13/25), with Scottie Lindsey being the main source of damage from deep (9/11). The key difference for Iowa ended up being the free throw line: Northwestern was just 3/7 at the charity stripe, while Iowa shot 17/23 from the line. They went there often (thanks to 18 fouls on Northwestern) and (happily) made most of their shots there. Iowa also dominated the Wildcats on the glass, with a 41-29 edge overall and a 17-9 edge in offensive rebounds that led to a 20-8 advantage in second chance points. 

The win ended Iowa's six-game losing streak, which was their longest of the season and also tied for the longest of the Fran Era at Iowa (they had two six-game losing streaks in 2010-11, Fran's first year at Iowa). The win also meant that Iowa didn't finish last in the Big Ten for the first time since 1994 (and just the third time since 1998). This was still a miserable regular season, but at least it ended on an up note. 

The other streak that ended was emotionally charged, as Jordan Bohannon's consecutive made free throw streak ended at 34, leaving him tied with Chris Street as co-holders for that particular Iowa record. Bohannon had a chance to extend the record to 35 made free throws, but appeared to intentionally miss the free throw to leave himself tied with Street. After the game, Bohannon was asked if he intentionally missed the free throw and while he didn't explicitly say "yes, I missed it on purpose," it was pretty clear from his comments that he did. (It was pretty clear from the free throw attempt itself; if he wasn't trying to miss it intentionally, it was the worst free throw he's ever shot in his entire life.)

I'm not a fan of intentionally missing free throws (especially in a close-ish game; Iowa was up 8 with around 2:15 to go when he missed), nor do I think Street's legacy would have been diminished in the least if Bohannon had made the free throw and broken the record. But it was clearly a decision that Bohannon had considered a great deal and had strong feelings about, so if this is what he wanted to do, fair enough. 

NEXT: Iowa plays Illinois in the 12/13 game of the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday, February 28 at 4:30 PM CT (BTN). 

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