• Travis Thornburgh

Week in Review: Purdue and Nebraska

Updated: Feb 19

This week started with a thud, but finished strong. Iowa sustained a nearly 40 point loss and rebounded with a win of nearly 30 points. To call this week an emotional rollercoaster would be an understatement, but Iowa still sits in a solid position for the homestretch of the Big Ten race after going 1-1 last week.

The Week in Review

February 5, 2020, 6:00 P.M. CT

Hawkeyes 68 Purdue 104

Final Betting Line: Purdue -4.5

West Lafayette, Indiana

The Positives: As the score would indicate, there weren't many positives that came from this game. Iowa led the game at 2-0, Luka Garza poured in 26 points, and none of Iowa's contributors got hurt in the game. Those are the positives from this game.

The Negatives: Despite the score, I don't really see a lot of negatives from this game either. Iowa allowed a 17-0 run after scoring the first basket that seemed to completely zap the energy and fight out of a team that had played 3 games in 7 days. Two of those games were comeback wins over Wisconsin and Illinois that seemed to take a toll on the team. This team was bound to have a letdown at some point.

The biggest negative that came out of a game that saw Purdue shoot 63%+ from the floor was the number of open three-point shots that Iowa gave up. Purdue found ways to score difficult baskets early, then after the game got out of hand found themselves wide open shots far too often. That will be an area that Iowa has to consistently perform in to stay in the Big Ten hunt.

The Takeaway: At the time, this was a game that I hoped Iowa would just be able to flush and move on from. It didn't lead to any concern about the long term success of this team, but it was going to be key for the Hawks to rebound from an ugly outing against Purdue and answer the bell against Nebraska. With the Nebraska result in mind, this is a game that Iowa fans can just forget and continue to enjoy the ride.

February 8, 2020, 5:00 P.M. CT

Nebraska 72 Hawkeyes 96

Final Betting Line: Iowa -14.5

Iowa City, Iowa

The Positives: Iowa took care of business and was able to rebound after a terrible outing against the Boilermakers. Luka Garza had a solid game, hauling in 8 rebounds along with scoring 22 points. Iowa got contributions from nearly everybody on the roster and avenged their early season loss in Lincoln by leading wire to wire and dominating the Cornhuskers.

The story of the game was Joe Wieskamp. With Iowa up just 8 at the break, Joe sat at 10 points heading to the locker room and looked to be on pace for just another 20 point game. Instead, Joe took the game over in the first 8 minutes of the 2nd half by putting 20 points on the board to pad an Iowa lead that ballooned to as large as 38. Wieskamp showed just how electric he can be on the offensive end of the floor and help Iowa to cruise after allowing Nebraska to get within 4 near the end of the first half.

The Negatives: Iowa started the game hot, but seemed to take their foot off the gas as the game approached halftime. That hasn't been a trait that Iowa has exhibited often this year, but it is something to pay attention to as we come down the stretch and the wear and tear begins to set in. When Iowa builds a lead, putting the game out of reach needs to be of the utmost importance.

The Takeaway: This game by itself really doesn't offer much as far as lasting impacts for the rest of the season, but when you combine it with the events of earlier in the week it becomes more important. The Hawks were able flush a really bad loss against Purdue by dominating a team that they should have beat handily. Showing that they can rebound from a loss like that is huge and is yet another illustration of this team's mental toughness. Coming out of this week at 1-1 can be counted as a step forward considering the way the week started.

A Look Ahead

This week sees Iowa hitting the road for a pair of huge Big Ten contests as they travel to Bloomington, Indiana and Minneapolis, Minnesota to square off with the Hoosiers and Golden Gophers.

Thursday's game finds Indiana welcoming Iowa to town off a home loss on Saturday to Purdue and the losers of four straight. The Hoosiers currently sit at 15-8 with a 5-7 record in the Big Ten. Indiana boasts a balanced attack, with 5 players averaging over 8 points per game. Iowa will need to focus on slowing down Hoosier freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis, who leads the Hoosiers in both scoring and rebounding. The Hoosiers are a solid defensive team, allowing 66.9 points per game, but have seemed to regress during Big Ten play and are allowing over 70 points per game to league opponents. Look for Iowa to pound the ball inside to Garza and Kriener early and often, as Indiana doesn't have much depth to match the Iowa big men. On defense, Iowa will have to be ready to guard the dribble drive and kick out, as Indiana leans heavily on their guards to fuel their offense. Iowa should emerge from Bloomington victorious, but will likely never feel comfortable with their lead. Iowa catches Indiana at the perfect time and beats the Hoosiers by 5.

Sunday will find Iowa on the road again, this time at The Barn (Williams Arena) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Gophers currently sit at 12-11, with a 6-7 mark in the Big Ten. The Gophers are coming off a loss on the road against Penn State and will have been off the court for 8 days when they welcome Iowa to town. Minnesota's offensive attack will be less balanced than Indiana, but this game boasts one of the most exciting post matchups since Luka Garza vs. Jalen Smith, when Daniel Oturu and Luka Garza face off. In the previous meeting, Iowa bested the Gophers by 20, with Oturu edging Garza in both scoring and rebounding with 22 and 12 against Garza's 21 and 10. This game is likely to come down to officiating on the inside. If the big guys are allowed to be physical, Garza should have a distinct advantage. This game won't be another 20 point Iowa victory like the first meeting, but Iowa has a solid shot to sweep the season series. Iowa proves to be too much down the stretch for Minnesota and edges Minnesota by 5.

With two victories this week, Iowa would move to 19-7 on the year, with a 10-5 league record to keep pace with the leaders.

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Current Big Ten Standings (Following Games on February 12)

1. Maryland - 20-4 (10-3)

2. Penn State - 19-5 (9-4)

3. Michigan State - 17-8 (9-5)

4. Iowa - 17-7 (8-5)

5. Illinois - 16-8 (8-5)

6. Rutgers - 17-8 (8-6)

7. Wisconsin 14-10 (7-6)

8. Purdue - 14-11 (7-7)

9. Minnesota - 12-11 (6-7)

10. Ohio State - 16-8 (6-7)

11. Michigan - 15-9 (6-7)

12. Indiana - 15-8 (5-7)

13. Nebraska - 7-17 (2-11)

14. Northwestern - 6-17 (1-12)


About Travis

A lifelong Hawkeye fan and a 2017 graduate of the University of Iowa in Civil Engineering, Travis now calls Des Moines, Iowa home and continues to passionately follow University of Iowa athletics

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