Iowa rode a hot first half from C.J. Fredrick and a volcanic second half from Jordan Bohannon to overwhelm the visiting Northwestern Wildcats, 87-72. Luka Garza's streak of 20-point games came to a halt as he managed "only" 18 points and 6 rebounds in the win, but Iowa got 24 points from Bohannon and 19 from Fredrick in the victory.
Fredrick ripped 17 first-half points to lead Iowa's charge, which helped counterbalance Pete Nance's 17 first-half points of his own. Both players settled down after the break (two and four points after halftime, respectively), and Jordan Bohannon started bombing in Fredrick's place. Bohannon went 5-for-6 from deep in the second half, playing all 20 minutes of the period, and Iowa never relinquished the lead in the second half.
Unfortunately, Bohannon's marathon act was a bit of a necessity — Joe Toussaint left the game in the first half due to a sprained ankle, and it'll remain to be seen how limited he is going forward. He's a game-changer in his bench role and Iowa's lucky that it was facing one of the more athletically limited backcourts in the conference without Joey T.
Fran McCaffery said Joe Toussaint sprained his ankle tonight. Doesnt appear to be a long term injury.— Robert Read (@Robert_Read34) December 30, 2020
Also off the bench, Keegan Murray had another terrific game, with 9 points, 2 rebounds and 2 steals in his 21 minutes. Murray's irrepressible energy and efficient shot selection are tremendously useful for this team on both ends of the floor, and he's been the most pleasant surprise of the year for this Iowa team.
On the other side of the floor, Northwestern didn't look like a top-20 team or one who would be alone at the top of the standings in this Big Ten. Nance was obviously productive (aside from a ludicrously weak technical foul called on him for yelling "gimme that shit," which I guess you're not allowed to do if you play for the Rich Nerd School) and Miller Kopp and Chase Audige are good three-point shooters... but that's kind of all they've got? Put it this way, I don't think Northwestern's long for a Top 25 spot or a winning record in the B1G. Another long winter for their alumni legion of crusty ding-dongs in the public sphere.
The win marks Iowa's eighth-straight victory over a ranked foe at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, a program-record run that has taken place entirely in the year 2020 — it started with Iowa flattening Maryland 67-49 on January 10, yes that game was this year, what an absurd year it's been, and now we're closing out this diabolical year with the stress-free win over Northwestern. It's wild that CHA is also becoming the graveyard for marquee foes that Kinnick has been in recent years, but it's a testament to the winning culture that Fran McCaffery has cultivated among this current squad.
So, yeah, did that Minnesota loss stink? Of course it did. Did it mean that when Northwestern hung around in single digits for the first 10 minutes of the second half, we as fans started to think "here we go again?" Sure. But that's us — that's not the team. They got to work and put Northwestern away without much difficulty, because that's what a confident, skilled, well-coached team does.
And yes, that Northwestern technical was baloney and helped turn the game for the Hawkeyes. But if a technical foul — good for two American basketball points — knocks your team off track for the rest of the game, your team probably sucks and didn't deserve to win in the first place.
Big win, good fun, onto the next one. Go Iowa Awesome.