Five observations from Iowa’s 81-71 win at Minnesota on Sunday.
THE GLASS IS HALF EMPTY
The Hawkeyes had a 63-40 lead with 11:54 left in the game before Minnesota rallied to get to within 74-71 with 1:30 left to play.
Iowa struggled with the Gophers’ zone defense. That inactivity nearly proved to be costly.
“I think we got tentative, and they got some momentum,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “ Things started snowballing
“We didn’t attack the zone well. That’s fairly obvious. We were just settling for jump shots.”
The Hawkeyes had a chance to put the away the Gophers, who were playing with just seven scholarship players because of injuries and illness within the program. But they let them get back into the game.
THE GLASS IS HALF FULL
The Hawkeyes found a way to secure the win.
Keegan Murray had the biggest shot of the game, hitting a 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down with 59 seconds to play. Murray then followed with a blocked shot at the other end, and the Gophers would not score again.
Jordan Bohannon hit four free throws in the final 30 seconds for the final margin.
Iowa has won six of its last seven games, and has gotten even in Big Ten play, moving to 3-3 in the conference.
“This league is just brutal,” McCaffery said. “There is no one you can take lightly.
MR. BIG SHOT
It was fitting that Murray came up with the crucial shot.
Murray, the nation’s leading scorer, had 25 points and 10 rebounds. He was 11-of-17 from the field, and the three he made late was his only one of the game.
“To him, it’s just no big deal,” McCaffery said. “He doesn’t hunt shots. He’s special.”
Filip Rebraca had his most complete game since coming to the Hawkeyes in the offseason. He had his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
“Rebraca was great,” McCaffery said. “There’s no reason why he shouldn’t play like that every night. He’s gaining confidence every day.”
McCaffery said Rebraca has been working to fit in in his first season.
“He’s trying so hard to be a part of a winning team, he doesn’t think of himself enough,” McCaffery said. “And it’s OK. Go get buckets.”
ODDS AND ENDS
Iowa had 52 points in the paint, compared to 32 for the Gophers. … The Hawkeyes had a 40-31 rebounding edge. … Connor McCaffery did not play because of a sore back. That gave more minutes to Payton Sandfort, who had two points, two assists and one rebound in 8 1/2 minutes.