Iowa’s men’s basketball team needed this one for validation.
The Hawkeyes had lost five straight to Northwestern and three consecutive games to open Big Ten play. It’s still early in the season, but Sunday’s 70-50 win against the Wildcats provided a salve to Iowa’s wounded egos.
“This was huge for us,” said Iowa senior Eric May, who scored seven points in 23 minutes. “Everybody knew it. I told the guys this was a must-win game for us.”
It also was a feel-good game for Iowa (12-5, 1-3 Big Ten) for several reasons. Junior guard Devyn Marble returned after missing a game with a sprained ankle. Sophomore Josh Oglesby broke out of a shooting slump with four 3-pointers. Iowa won at a true road location for the first time this year while ending a four-game slide at Welsh-Ryan Arena. And the Hawkeyes finally mastered the Northwestern 1-3-1 zone trap that had caused recent anguish and heartbreak.
Getting the stench of recent losses to No. 5 Indiana, No. 2 Michigan and No. 22 Michigan State also was essential.
Do you think Sunday’s win will change the direction of Iowa’s season? Was it a “must-win,” as many Hawkeye players asserted?