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Saturday's Big Ten basketball: Iowa wins as free throws cost Rutgers

Matt Sugam
Associated Press

Piscataway, N.J. — Luka Garza got his points for No. 10 Iowa, but otherwise, 14th-ranked Rutgers managed to stifle the Big Ten’s top offense.

The problem for the Scarlet Knights was on the other end of the floor – and it had nothing to do with the Hawkeyes’ defense, either.

Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon (3) shoots against Rutgers during the first half.

Garza scored 15 of his 25 points in the second half and Iowa took advantage of Rutgers’ abysmal free-throw shooting for a 77-75 victory Saturday.

Rutgers (7-2, 3-2 Big Ten) has struggled at the foul line this season, hitting just 62%. It went 4 of 12 against Iowa (9-2, 3-1 Big Ten), which was 18 of 23.

“Wins and losses happen, but what we took away from today is we got to hit foul shots,” Rutgers guard Ron Harper Jr. said. “Four of 12 from the foul line, that’s just unacceptable. We’re not going to win a lot of basketball games like that.”

Jacob Young had 17 points as Rutgers’ defense stifled the Big Ten’s top offense.

“Honestly, I just had to get the ball,” Garza said. “They were playing so aggressively defensively, our guards weren’t able to get the ball to me and credit them for their game plan.”

Iowa’s Connor McCaffery headed to the locker room three minutes into the game with an ankle injury and returned only to inbound the ball in the final seconds of the game. Head coach Fran McCaffery said his son was “day-to-day.”

From there, Rutgers stymied an offense averaging 94 points. Jordan Bohannon scored 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting while Keegan Murray had 14 points.

“He was fabulous on both ends,” McCaffery said of the freshman Murray.

The teams were tied at 35 at the break.

Montez Mathis had 13 points, five assists and five rebounds for Rutgers. Myles Johnson had 13 points and 10 rebounds.

After a 2-0 week, Iowa should move up in the rankings, while Rutgers should stay about where they are with a 1-1 week.

Iowa is seen as one of the favorites to win the Big Ten behind Garza. How long McCaffery is out, and how Iowa’s offense responds, will be key. The Hawkeyes offense looked out of sync in his absence — the coach’s son averages 4.5 assists per game.

The Scarlet Knights have yet to have their full lineup for a game, but they continue to get healthy. Only Cliff Omoruyi (knee) remains out. Ron Harper Jr. returned after sitting out last game with an ankle injury.

Caleb McConnell played for the first time this season, returning from a back injury that was originally going to sideline him for the season.

Rutgers plays Michigan State at the Breslin Center on Tuesday.

Saturday's other game

(At) No. 15 Illinois 66, Purdue 58: Kofi Cockburn had 14 points and 10 rebounds, Ayo Dosunmu scored 12 and Da’Monte Williams added 12 points for the Fighting Illini (8-3, 4-1 Big Ten) in their seventh consecutive Big Ten home win dating to last season. Andre Curbelo, who leads the conference in assists, had six.

Brandon Newman scored 14 points and big man Trevion Williams had 14 points and eight rebounds for the Boilermakers.

Purdue (7-5, 2-3) is one of the best rebounding teams in the nation, but Illinois outrebounded the Boilermakers 39-33. Illinois shot 48% (25 of 52) from the field, while Purdue was 22 of 56 for 39%.

The Boilermakers started the second half with a 16-0 run to take a 39-33 lead before Illinois found its range from behind the 3-point line. Long shots by Williams and Trent Frazier helped the Illini take the lead for good.

Purdue jumped out to a 7-2 lead before Illinois slowly began to control the tempo of the game. Fueled by acrobatic passes from Curbelo, both Cockburn and Dosunmu took over early for the Illini. Cockburn had six points and seven rebounds, and Dosunmu scored 12 in the opening period.

Illinois led 33-23 at halftime.

COVID postponement 

No. 6 Wisconsin’s scheduled men’s basketball game Sunday at Penn State has been postponed.

The schools have announced that they’ve mutually agreed to postpone the game due to health and safety concerns. Neither school offered specific details.

Both schools are working with the Big Ten to reschedule the game.