Rested No. 21 Iowa ready for visit to plucky Rutgers
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Iowa has had most of this week off, giving the 21st-ranked Hawkeyes plenty of time to practice and savor some recent highlights created by Jordan Bohannon.
After six days off, the Hawkeyes make their first attempt at reaching 20 victories Saturday night when they visit Rutgers.
Iowa (19-5, 8-5 Big Ten) is on the verge of reaching 20 wins for the fifth time in seven seasons and heads to Rutgers with three straight wins and eight in their last 10 contests since a 16-point loss at Purdue on Jan. 3.
Bohannon is fourth on the team in scoring at 11.1 points per game but is also responsible for Iowa's last two wins. In a 77-72 victory at Indiana on Feb. 7, he scored 25 points, including the last 11. In Sunday's 80-79 win over Northwestern, Bohannon scored 15 points and hit the game-winning 3-pointer with under one second left.
"Ice in my veins, right?" Bohannon said after Iowa rallied from a 15-point deficit in less than five minutes. "I just feel really comfortable toward the end of the games. When you have a coach like Coach (Fran) McCaffery, who gives the ultimate green light to you, it gives you the supreme confidence to be able to make shots like that down the stretch."
Bohannon's last two clutch performances occurred after he was held to 13 points total in a three-game stretch from Jan. 24 to Feb. 1. They also occurred nearly a month after he hit five 3-pointers in an 89-82 win at Penn State.
"He's had an amazing year in that respect," McCaffery said. He's fearless. That's why he's got to be on the floor."
Besides two clutch games from Bohannon, Tyler Cook scored 19 points against the Wildcats and has been in double figures in four of six games since returning from a sprained ankle. But like the rest of the Hawkeyes, Cook is hoping to avoid a repeat of the first 35 minutes from Sunday.
"I just don't think we played to the best of our ability at either end of the floor," Cook said. "Offensively, we were impatient I think to a degree. We didn't move our motion as well as we usually do. We were fortunate enough to learn a lesson with a W."
Rutgers (12-12, 5-9) is attempting to gets its second conference win over a ranked team. The Scarlet Knights downed then-No. 16 Ohio State 64-61 at home on Jan. 9.
Since beating Ohio State, Rutgers is 4-6. Its five league wins this season are its most since joining the Big Ten in 2014.
The Scarlet Knights halted a three-game losing streak with their own rally past Northwestern, a 59-56 win in Evanston on Wednesday when they held the Wildcats to 36.4 percent shooting. Rutgers' effective defense was timely, on a night when the team committed 15 turnovers and missed 13 of 16 3-point attempts.
"They're growing up right in front of us and getting better and better in a league that's getting better," Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said on his postgame radio interview after sophomore Geo Baker and freshman Montez Mathis scored 12 points apiece. "We're getting better in a league that's as good as it's been since I've been in the league for sure."
Rutgers also won on Wednesday because it was able to control the rebounding battle by a 44-30 margin. It was the sixth straight game in which the Scarlet Knights outrebounded an opponent, and it was their widest rebounding margin in a conference game.
"We just hung in there," Pikiell said on his postgame radio interview. "Our defense, they were locked in with ball pressure. Nothing was easy. They had to make some big shots down the stretch. We outrebounded them by 14, we did a great job in the glass.
"These are games I love. I think they're beautiful."
Iowa is 5-1 all-time against Rutgers. The Hawkeyes claimed the first five meetings before Baker scored 17 points for the Scarlet Knights in their 80-64 home win on Jan. 17, 2018.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 14, 2019