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Enjoying the Build: 4 Thoughts On Iowa

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Rutgers locks down the defense and puts the ball in the hoops.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Scarlet Knight went deep on their bench and took care of business tonight, 80-64. Here’s Aaron’s recap.

Here are my thoughts:

The Shots Went In: During the first half of the game, Issa Thiam and Geo Baker were locked in. Rutgers made 6 threes in that half to really pull away from Iowa early. When that happens, everyone in the building jumping, the team feels good about itself and everything else falls into place. Even when you’re not a good offensive team, there are just nights where the shots fall. Tonight was one of those nights for Rutgers, and it came at the perfect time.

Rutgers Learned from Hartford: In the unfortunate loss against Hartford, Rutgers had a hard time breaking down their zone. Rutgers lofted too many passes allowing Hartford’s D to catch up. No such thing tonight. Iowa didn’t play exclusively zone—they mixed in some man-to-man—but when the played zone, Rutgers moved the ball crisply and got open shots.

Making Up for Mike Williams: This was the cool part of the night, as Steve Pikiell mixed and matched trying to find the right combinations on the court. Little used Matt Bullock got a great run, playing solid defense and making a jumper. He hustled, wasn’t out of position when he was on the court. Jake Dadika got some run in the game too. These combinations were key because it allowed Pikiell to rest Corey Sanders and Baker.

Great Defense: Early in the game, with Rutgers up 11-4 and looking like they were going to steamroll, Jordan Bohannon made three 3-point shots in a row to go on a mini 9-0 run all by himself. After that, Pikiell glued Baker to Bohannon and Rutgers really dug in their heels on defense. Bohannon scored 23 points total, but Baker really made him work, and Rutgers was able to keep an explosive offensive team in check. Iowa scored well under their average. Just another feather to stick in Pikiell’s cap. A great all around night.