IOWA CITY — Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery sat comfortably out of sight at Carver-Hawkeye Arena as his team comfortably dispatched Northwestern 93-67 last night.
McCaffery watched the game from his office while serving a one-game suspension for violating the Big Ten’s sportsmanship policy. With assistant Kirk Speraw taking the reins, the Hawkeyes played with poise and efficiency in burying the Wildcats.
“I’m very proud of our guys,” Speraw said. “They really approached the week with maturity and great focus, and I thought they executed the game plan very well (last night).
“I thought in totality our guys did a great job of defending them, making it tough for them to get a number of open looks from the 3-point line. That was important for us that they didn’t come in and hit 10 or 11 3s.”
No. 20/23 Iowa (13-3, 2-1 Big Ten) scored the game’s first 10 points and were never seriously challenged. the opening run included free throws, a 3-pointer from Devyn Marble, a jumper from Adam Woodbury and a Melsahn Basabe tip-in. The Wildcats trimmed the margin to four points three different times, but then Iowa quickly put the game out of reach.
The Hawkeyes completed a 9-1 run with Jarrod Uthoff and Mike Gesell each hitting 3-pointers. Uthoff also knocked down a jumper, and Gesell sank a free throw.
Iowa’s offense was efficient with 22 assists on 29 baskets. Both Gesell and Marble had six assists, while Aaron White had five.
“A great unselfishness out of our group,” Speraw said.. That’s to be expected. I’m very proud of the way they focused and attacked the week.
But the night belonged to Basabe. The 6-foot-7 senior became the 42nd player in Iowa history to reach 1,000 career points. He was 5-for-5 from the floor to finish with 16 points. He grabbed 10 rebounds for his 14th career double-double.
Basabe reached the milestone at the free-throw line, where he knocked down both shots with 1:40 left in the first half.
“I thought it was terrific,” Speraw said. “I’m very proud of him. he’s been working hard, he’s been very active in the last couple of weeks. He’s been blocking shots, he’s been rebounding, he’s been running the floor. It was good for him to get some offensive production out of some things.
“I’m very proud of him. He’s had a great career here and he’ll continue to have a great career.”
Basabe said it was a “tremendous honor” to reach the milestone.
“It does touch my heart just to know my name is somewhere in the books,” Basabe said. “It’s just a blessing to be here. I appreciate it more than anything.”
White scored a team-high 18 points and was 10-for-10 from the free-throw line, all in the first half. He also added 10 rebounds. Marble chipped in with 15 points. JerShon Cobb led Northwestern with 18 points.
Iowa dominated Northwestern (7-9, 0-3) on the boards throughout the game. The Hawkeyes picked up the game’s first six rebounds and won the battle 41-28.
The Hawkeyes shot 57 percent from both the field (29-51) and 3-point range (8-14). Iowa connected on 27 of 36 free throws. Northwestern shot just 32 percent in the first half and 30 percent overall. Iowa crushed the Wildcats in fast break points, 17-2.
“They’re very good at turning those plays into transition,” Northwestern Coach Chris Collins said. “They’re as good as it gets in our conference of pushing the ball and scoring in transition.”
The Hawkeyes have little time to relax. McCaffery will lead the team against No. 3-ranked Ohio State (15-1, 2-1) on Sunday at Value City Arena. The Buckeyes have won the last eight straight to take a 76-75 all-time series lead.
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