The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa men’s basketball notebook | Hawkeyes look for season-sweep against Minnesota to stay afloat in Big Ten rankings

The last time Iowa fell to its rival up north was back in December of 2020. Since then, the Hawkeyes have won five straight, allowing 66.8 points per contest.
Grace Smith
Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery reacts during game one of the Hy-Vee Hawkeye Showcase between Iowa men’s basketball andFlorida A&M at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Rattlers 88-52.

Time is running out for the Hawkeyes to sew some wins together. 

Currently sitting tenth in the Big Ten standings with a 5-7 conference record, the Iowa men’s basketball team needs to go 6-2 in their last eight games to conclude the regular season with a winning record. 

“It’s definitely go time,” graduate forward Ben Krikke said at media availability on Friday. “We’ve lost a few games that … we felt we should have won … I’m still encouraged. Still a very positive mindset.”

Dissecting loss to Penn State  

Iowa’s latest game took place at State College, Pennsylvania against Penn State on Thursday, where the Nittany Lions downed the Hawkeyes, 89-79. Iowa led by seven with just under eight minutes to go when Penn State got hot, scoring on 12 of their last 13 possessions to take the 10-point victory. 

The Hawkeyes shot 33-of-59 from the field, totaling 55.9 percent for the contest. The Nittany Lions drew 22 fouls and forced 18 turnovers – the second-most turnovers in a game this season for the Hawkeyes. 

“[Penn State] is going to scramble your offense,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said after the loss. “You have more guys handling the ball. More passes have to be made. They are going to be up in the passing lanes getting deflections. We had some guys that made some very uncharacteristic turnovers for them. But you’ve got to credit your opponent on that.”

Scouting Minnesota

Iowa will host Minnesota at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Golden Gophers own a 15-7 overall record and a 6-5 record in Big Ten play, sitting firmly at the fifth spot in the conference standings. 

The two teams first saw each other on Jan. 15 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where the Hawkeyes took an 86-77 victory. McCaffery notched his 272nd win to become Iowa’s all-time winningest coach. 

Second-year guard Josh Dix started in place for fourth-year forward Patrick McCaffery, who was out with an ankle injury. Dix poured in a career-high 21 points while Krikke tied his season-high with 25 points to guide the comeback win. 

“They really jumped out on us,” Fran McCaffery said of the first matchup against Minnesota. “It was 14-3 and we kind of stayed the course. We got really good play off the bench … it’s just typical of this league right now.”

Third-year forward Dawson Garcia leads the charge for the Golden Gophers, averaging 17.3 points per game – sixth-most in the Big Ten – and 6.5 rebounds. He logged 30 points in the first meeting with the Hawkeyes, all coming from within the arc. 

The efficient scoring inside was the catalyst for Minnesota as they hit 23-of-29 shots for a whopping 79.3 percent within the arc. But the three-point shooting of the Golden Gophers was their demise, going 5-for-29 from deep – a detrimental statistic for a team where nearly 40 percent of its shot attempts come from three-point range.

For the season, Minnesota is shooting 47.5 percent from the floor, good enough for fourth place in the conference, two slots behind Iowa. The pair of schools also find themselves in the top three in assists per game for the Big Ten, with the Golden Gophers ahead in second place with 18.27 dimes per contest. 

The well-roundedness of Minnesota is something that Fran McCaffery credited his Minnesota counterpart Ben Johnson for ahead of Sunday’s contest, highlighting third-year guard Elijah Hawkins and first-year guard Cam Christie as players who “fit [the system] and then also fit the culture.” 

“Sometimes you get a lot of good players, you put them in and it just doesn’t work. And we’ve all seen it happen, too. So you [have to] give him credit … he and his staff have been able to do that.”

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About the Contributors
Chris Meglio
Chris Meglio, Sports Reporter
Chris Meglio is a first year student at the University of Iowa studying a double major in sport studies and journalism. He will be working as a sports journalist for The Daily Iowan covering women's volleyball for the fall sports season.
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.