Iowa men’s basketball defeats Northwestern with late surge

The Hawkeyes outscored the Wildcats, 24-11, over the final 7:38 Tuesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.


Grace Smith

Iowa guard Payton Sandfort shoots a 3-pointer during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Bethune-Cookman at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. Sandfort shot 3-of-9 in 3-pointers. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 89-58.

Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

The Iowa men’s basketball team defeated the visiting Northwestern Wildcats, 86-70, Tuesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. 

In what Northwestern head coach Chris Collins called a “back-and-fourth game,” Collins’ team led, 35-26, with 3:30 remaining in the first half, but the Hawkeyes ended the first stanza on a 13-4 run to knot it at 39 heading to the break. 

The teams traded buckets for the first 12 minutes of the second half, and Iowa led, 62-59, with 7:38 left. Then, Collins said, Iowa — and sophomore guard Payton Sandfort — turned it on. 

“I thought Sandfort, from that moment on, his play was just great,” Collins said. “In that stretch where the game kind of got away from us.”

Sandfort netted 12 of his 20 points in the final 7:11, including three 3-pointers and three free throws. 

Hawkeye center Filip Rebraca added eight points during the Hawkeyes’ 24-11 game-ending run.

“Payton and I know what we’re good at,” Rebraca said. “I know that people love to chase him, and when he hits me on a pop he’s going to go back to it and his man is going to run behind him, so I can hand it off to him to get an open shot.”

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Sandfort and Rebraca were two of five Iowa players to finish the night in double figures, alongside junior forward Kris Murray, junior guard Tony Perkins, and graduate student forward Connor McCaffery, who contributed 16, 12, and 11 respectively. 

Hawkeyes overcome defensive pressure

After Iowa played a sloppy first stanza — committing eight turnovers —  Fran McCaffery’s bunch cleaned up its act in the second half. The Hawkeyes committed just five turnovers over the final 20 minutes, lifted four more shot attempts, and scored eight more points than they did in the first half. 

“At halftime, we really emphasized you might have to over-dribble sometimes,” Sandfort said. “Usually we don’t want that, but the way they were sitting in the gaps and switching everything, we kind of emphsized, ‘Keep your dribble until you see somebody,” and then we were able to use Filip as an outlet when there was pressure.”

McCaffery said part of Iowa’s improvement was “guys just making plays.”

“We moved it, we shared it. We got into the bonus relatively early,” McCaffery said.”Didn’t turn it over. It was a lot of guys that had to go ahead and make plays moreso than anything we were drawing up.”

Big picture

The victory moves Iowa back above .500 in the Big Ten, at 6-5, and to 14-8 overall. The Hawkeyes have won two straight games and six of their last eight contests.

Prior to their win over the second-in-the-conference Wildcats, the Hawkeyes defeated Rutgers on Sunday, when the Scarlet Knights also had a share of second place in the league.

“It’s really good that we got to beat teams in the upper half [of the conference],” senior center Filip Rebraca said. “This win just makes the next one even bigger.”

Up next

Iowa will face Illinois on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The Illini check in at 16-6 overall and 7-4 in league play. The Illini are in second in the Big Ten. 

The Illini beat the Hawkeyes in both head-to-head matchups last season by a combined six points.

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