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College Basketball: #10 Iowa 87, #19 Northwestern 72

Iowa Hawkeyes center Luka Garza (55) and forward Keegan Murray (15) battle for a rebound against the Northwestern Wildcats Tuesday, December 29, 2020 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. (Stephen Mally/hawkeyesports.com)

IOWA CITY – Iowa got back in the win column Tuesday night with a hard-fought Big Ten Conference victory over Northwestern, 87-72.

Jordan Bohannon equaled a season high with 24 points (North Carolina), bolstered by 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point territory.

All-American Luka Garza tallied 18 points, snapping his streak of scoring 20+ points at 18 straight Big Ten games, dating back to last season. His 18-game streak is the longest by any player against Big Ten competition in over three decades.

Iowa handed Northwestern its first conference loss of the season.

Tonight marked the first time in the 180-game series history that Iowa and Northwestern played with both teams ranked in the AP Top 25.

Iowa has won eight straight home games against ranked opponents, dating back to last season. That is the longest such streak in program history during the AP Poll Era (since 1948-49).

Iowa returns to action on Saturday at No. 14 Rutgers. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. (CT) in Piscataway, New Jersey.

Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery

University of Iowa Basketball Media Conference

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Iowa City, Iowa, USA

Coach Fran McCaffery

Men’s Basketball Press Conference

 

Iowa, 87 – Northwestern, 72

  1. Fran, you got the lead midway through the first half when you put in Keegan and Patrick. Describe the lift they gave you at that moment.

FRAN MCCAFFERY: I just commended those two guys actually, and Joe and Jack. That lineup I think really turned the game around with their defensive intensity. Created some offense with their defense activity on the glass, and that’s what those guys do, and that’s what our team has to be, quite honestly, Mark.

We got a lot of guys that can contribute in different ways. And then I thought when the first group went back in they fed off that energy and excelled to finish the half.

  1. Northwestern got hot at the start of the second half. Three threes in the first two minutes. How do you guys adjust to that and how pleased were with you the response from your squad?

FRAN MCCAFFERY: Yeah, I was really pleased because we didn’t panic. We ended up getting the stops we needed. That’s the critical thing. They run really good stuff whether it’s against man, zone, and you got to be locked in. There is a lot of cutting, counters, and they got away from us in transition. We didn’t have a great possession or two in that stretch and they made us pay, which is what they do.

So then it came down to better possessions on offense and then better possessions on defense to get some consecutive stops. I think they cut the lead to three; we got the lead back to nine.

  1. How important was it to get Jordan going, and how big were those — it seemed like those two transition threes in the second half where he just kind of pulled up really got him going.

FRAN MCCAFFERY: Yeah, he was spectacular tonight. I mean, 24 and 5, six threes. I think you can kind of see it coming. He had a couple games that wouldn’t be up to his standards, and he’s a competitor, as fierce a competitor as I’ve ever been around, and he challenged himself to do what he does, and it was fun to watch.

  1. How about Jordan’s defense tonight? How do you assess that? Seemed like it was good.

FRAN MCCAFFERY: It was very good. He stuck his nose on the glass. Five rebounds, you’re playing a team that shot 25 threes, so there are going to be some coming long. Your guards have to rebound the ball.

I think the critical thing is they made 11; they came out hot and they were hot at the start of the second half, so when you get them to miss, you got to get that first miss. They had eight offensive rebounds. We can live with that.

  1. I know that you often say that players like Bohannon, and Bohannon in specific, you encourage him to keep shooting; you know he’ll start making them. But how do you convince the player of that? Does he need convincing when he’s going through a bit of a slump?

FRAN MCCAFFERY: I think two things on that. I think No. 1, I think most players would appreciate that. When you’re a fifth-year senior who has made over 300 threes he probably doesn’t need as much, but I gave it to him anyway. I had a long talk with him and just reminded him how great he is, who he is, what our team needs, and just go out and play with that kind of confidence and sort of reckless abandon, while at the same time running the show.

So it has to be a great feeling for him right now with how he played, because he knows his capable of it. He had a fabulous game against North Carolina. He’s had some other really good games; some other games where he wasn’t needed as much, but I didn’t take him out the whole second half because Joe Toussaint sprained his ankle, so I wasn’t going to put him back in.

  1. Just going to ask you about Joe Toussaint. Do you think that’s going to be something that’s long-term?

FRAN MCCAFFERY: I don’t. I think it was enough to give me pause to put him back in. He really wasn’t ready to go. As the second half went on he was anxious to get back in there, but I wasn’t going to put him out there less than 100% with an off day tomorrow and a game Saturday where we’re going to need him.

  1. Luka, you pride your teams on not turning the ball over. Luka was double teamed probably as much as any game this season. He only had one turnover. The ability between him and Connor when Connor was coming to the hoop and he was double teamed, just how pleased were you with Luka not forcing things tonight despite the double?

FRAN MCCAFFERY: Yeah, I think that’s the key: no panic. They’re trying to rush him. Play to your pace. If you can get it and go, go. If the double team comes, read it. Don’t just throw it to the next guy you see. Read it, make them pay, and move it with a purpose, which is what he did.

  1. Obviously Boo Buie is one of the best point guards in the conference. You held him to two points tonight. What did you do defensively to kind of frustrate him, do you think?

FRAN MCCAFFERY: You know, he didn’t get off to a good start. He missed couple early. But I don’t know there was anything special that we did other than pay attention to him. You said it, he’s one of the best players in our league. Obviously we marked him, and our intention was to make it tough for him, be aware of him.

He shoots behind ball screens, he shoots with unbelievable range, he goes at any point in time and gets to the rim.

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