|5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET1:00 PM GMT9:00 PM 北京时间6:00 PM MST8:00 PM EST, Feb 28, 2022
Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, Iowa
No. 25 Iowa out to build tourney resume vs. Northwestern
A rocky January morphed into a February turnaround that propelled Iowa back into the rankings and in good position for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Now, the No. 25 Hawkeyes will shoot for their fourth straight win and seventh victory in eight games on Monday night when they host Northwestern in Iowa City.
After a 90-86 double overtime loss on Jan. 31 at Penn State, Iowa had lost three of four games. It looked like the classic bubble team whose fate might rest with the conference tournament.
Now, the Hawkeyes (20-8, 10-7 Big Ten) have figured things out. They have maintained their ability to pour in the points while improving enough on defense to string together multiple stops. In short, they're peaking at the right time.
Coach Fran McCaffery subscribed to a simple philosophy to help Iowa get through the rough times.
"We just kept plugging," he said. "The league is brutal ... lost some close games. You have to be able to come back and win some close games. I like the fact we get really good play from a lot of different people, and that's great to see as a coach. It's important.
"You have to be consistent with how you prepare, how you work, and I'm always going to be positive with them and develop confidence and move on to the next. It could be a big win, it could be a tough loss. Just move on to the next and try to get better."
Which the Hawkeyes have done, as Friday night's 88-78 win at Nebraska illustrates. They scored 52 second-half points to put away an inspired team looking for an upset, with six Iowa players scoring in double figures.
Keegan Murray has competed at a Player of the Year level, pumping in a conference-high 23.2 points per game on 56.1 percent shooting while adding a team-high 8.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots per game. But Tony Perkins was the star at Nebraska with a career-high 20 points.'
Meanwhile, Northwestern (13-14, 6-12) comes in off a 67-60 loss Friday night at Penn State, which connected on 13 3-pointers to hand the Wildcats their fourth loss in five games.
Northwestern built a six-point halftime lead behind a stingy defense that held the Nittany Lions to 26.7 percent shooting from the field, but that defense broke down in the second half. Penn State converted nine 3-pointers over the final 20 minutes.
Some thought the Wildcats could contend for the program's second-ever NCAA berth back in November, but they haven't been able to consistently close out tight games. But they do have one of the league's top players in Pete Nance (15.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 44.0 percent 3-pointers).
"There were a lot of other parts of my game that I was working on in years past heavily," Nance said, "but I kind of added in 3-point shooting a lot more. Just a lot of extra reps of that, and it's been paying off for me."
This is the only scheduled meeting between Iowa and Northwestern this season.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 27, 2022