Fran McCaffery ejected as Iowa men’s basketball blown out by Northwestern

The Hawkeyes never found their shooting touch in Sunday’s 80-60 loss in Evanston.


Matt Sindt

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery shows his frustration during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Ohio State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Buckeyes, 92-75.

Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

The Iowa men’s basketball team was defeated, 80-60, by the Northwestern Wildcats Sunday in Evanston, Illinois.

The Hawkeyes never led and trailed the Wildcats for virtually the whole game, as Northwestern took a 5-2 lead with 18:49 left in the first half, and never relinquished the advantage. 

The Hawkeyes converted just three of 24 three-point attempts, good for a 12.5 percent clip — their lowest of the season. 

“We just struggled,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said in a postgame press conference. “3-for-24 from three, you’re gonna have a hard time winning. So you got to give credit to them. They played well. They played well from the start, and they played better than us.”

Northwestern opened up an 11-3 lead in the contest’s first 3:42 and took its first double-digit lead, 23-13, with 4:11 left in the first half.

Iowa never got to within less than eight points for the rest of the afternoon and played the last 11 minutes of the game trailing by double digits. 

“We didn’t get in sync,” McCaffery said. “Our transition, our half-court offense, nothing was flowing correctly. And you can’t blame anybody. You just have to be better. And you have to learn and grow from that and be better and credit your opponent for how well they played. They played really well … So you know what, to the next.”

Fran McCaffery ejected for first time this season

With 7:26 remaining in the game and his team down, 61-46, McCaffery’s emotions boiled over on the Iowa sideline — or the refs decided they did. 

With the Hawkeyes in a full-court press defensive setup, Northwestern struggled to get the ball over half-court in the 10-second time limit. 

The Wildcats managed to advance it over the half-court line with 20 seconds on the shot clock, an exact 10 seconds after they inbounded the ball. 

The referees allowed play to continue and Northwestern forward Robbie Beran found fellow forward Tidus Verhoeven for a wide-open dunk. 

McCaffery was angry and after a few seconds of yelling, referee Courtney Green gave him two technical fouls and he was ejected.

On the Big Ten Network TV broadcast, via slow motion replays, the commentators determined the ball was in the air as the shot clock ticked to 20 seconds and not in the possession of a Northwestern player over half court, which should’ve constituted a 10-second violation.

Big picture

The loss drops Iowa to 9-7 in the conference and 17-10 overall. Iowa is currently in a four-way tie for fourth place in the Big Ten. The top four seeds receive a double bye in the conference tournament next month.

Meanwhile, Northwestern improves to 20-7 overall and 11-5 in league play. 2023 marks the first time since the 1931 that Northwestern has won 11 games in the conference.

Iowa had won the previous nine games against the Wildcats.

Up next

The Hawkeyes will take on the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison on Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. The Badgers, currently sitting at 15-11 overall and 7-9 in the Big Ten, defeated Iowa, 78-75, in overtime on Dec. 11, 2022, in Iowa City.