EVANSTON—The previous time No. 10 Iowa went on the road it was a nightmare. On Saturday, things were a bit smoother for the Hawkeyes. Roy Devyn Marble scored 14 points and Iowa never trailed, beating Northwestern 76-50. Gabriel Olaseni had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Mike Gesell added 11 points for the Hawkeyes (16-4, 5-2 Big Ten), who avoided losing consecutive games for the first time this season after falling 75-67 at No. 21 Michigan on Wednesday. They shot 51.9 percent from the field (28 of 54) and won their fourth in five games. That helped them recover not just from a tough loss, but from a trip that saw them stranded in Ann Arbor because of inclement weather until Thursday morning. For Iowa, that means getting contributions from the whole roster, and that kept going Saturday. Iowa, which outrebounded Northwestern 44-20, had nine players score. Marble, Iowa’s leading scorer, didn’t make his first field goal until 3:08 into the second half. That basket was part of a 7-0 run that gave the Hawkeyes a 41-30 lead, their first double-digit advantage. Northwestern never got closer than seven points during a second half Iowa dominated 46-26. He did, and once again Iowa was too much for Northwestern (10-11, 3-5) to handle, as the Wildcats shot 36.4 percent from the field (20 of 55). Saturday was a rematch of the teams’ Jan. 9 game in Iowa City which the Hawkeyes won 93-67 after shooting 64.3 percent during the second half. McCaffery was suspended for that game after getting ejected during the Hawkeyes’ previous game at Wisconsin. That first game was a turning point for Northwestern. Including the teams’ first matchup, the Wildcats started conference play 0-3 and were allowing an average of 81 points per game. In the next four games – a stretch that included a win over then-No. 23 Illinois, a victory at Indiana and a double-overtime win over Purdue – the Wildcats only gave up 51 points per game. That didn’t continue, especially during the second half when Iowa’s depth wore out Northwestern.
”I think that’s why they won. I really do,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. ”Our guys were playing hard. That’s what I’m saying. This wasn’t like they played harder than us. Both teams played really hard. They’re just better than us.”
Unlike the first meeting, when the Hawkeyes led 41-26 at halftime, Iowa struggled to separate from Northwestern during the first half despite making 50 percent of its shots compared to the Wildcats’ 31. Iowa was in front 30-24 at halftime but at one point went more than 6 minutes between baskets. Drew Crawford had 20 points for Northwestern, which had won three of four.
”Obviously Iowa’s a tremendous team. Give them credit, but we didn’t play our best, especially in the second half,” Crawford said. ”I think that’s a team we’re capable of competing with for 40 minutes and tonight we weren’t able to do that.”
Northwestern got Dave Sobolewski back after he missed four games (concussion), and had Crawford break the school record by playing in his 131st game and starting his 130th. He topped the marks set by John Shurna and Michael “Juice” Thompson, respectively.