EVANSTON, Ill. – Northwestern’s 1-3-1 zone had Iowa’s offense tied in knots. Defensively, the Hawkeyes struggled to cover the 3-point line with much success.
No offense. No defense. No chance.
“Pretty much everything,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said when asked what had gone wrong in an 83-64 loss to Northwestern Thursday before an announced crowd of 6,013 at Welsh-Ryan Arena. “There wasn’t anything good.”
The Wildcats, winning a season-best third straight league game to improve to 5-6 in the Big Ten and 15-8 overall, made 13-of-25 3-pointers. Northwestern entered play leading the Big Ten in made 3s at 7.8 per game.
“We’re not executing defensively at the level we need to to win,” McCaffery said. “It’s not any more complicated than that. Pretty simple.”
In the last three games against the Hawkeyes, Northwestern is shooting 48.1 percent from long range (39-of-81).
Iowa’s Aaron White had his second career double-double, and first since the opening game of the season, with 17 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. He can’t speak to the two games against Northwestern last season, since he’s just a freshman.
But he’s smart enough to know that a lack of defense has played a major role in Iowa’s losses this season. Trying to win a third straight league game for the first time this season, Iowa fell to 5-7 in the Big Ten and 13-12 overall.
“It’s a constant theme in our losses,” White said. “When we come out and don’t bring the intensity or stick to the game plan, it’s tough to win.”
Iowa’s struggles against the 1-3-1 were nearly as troubling as the lack of defense.
“We worked on it for three days and really did a pretty good job of attacking it (in practice),” McCaffery said. “We didn’t shoot it that well and we didn’t get anything near the basket, and that’s what you have to do.”
The 1-3-1 is a staple of Bill Carmody-coached Northwestern teams.
“It’s what we do,” Carmody said. “It was effective. More important, they felt a little uncomfortable against it.”
Freshman point guard Dave Sobolewski scored a career-best 23 points for Northwestern as all five starters reached double figures. Four of those five starters each made a trio of 3-pointers.
The Hawkeyes had 18 turnovers, and many of them were converted into easy Northwestern baskets in transition. The Wildcats outscored Iowa in points off turnovers 20-6.
“We knew they liked to push the ball,” Sobolewski said. “But we ran it right back at them several times.”
Matt Gatens added 15 points and Melsahn Basabe 13 off the bench. But point guard Bryce Cartwright, coming off his best week of the season in victories against Minnesota and Penn State, fell back in a funk. He had just two points, five assists and a team-high five turnovers.
“We’ll just stick with him and keep encouraging him,” McCaffery said. “He’s a good kid.”
Iowa lost its fourth straight game to Northwestern, its third-longest losing streak against Big Ten opponents:
Streak, opponent, last win
7 — Ohio State, Feb. 2, 2008
6 — Illinois, March 3, 2007
4 — N’western, Feb. 10, 2010
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball