It continues to be a theme that teams don't go into Jersey Mike’s Arena and come away with a victory. On Wednesday night, it was defense that was king for Rutgers.
The Scarlet Knights held Iowa to just 28% shooting on the night and 40 points below their season average to pickup a 48-46 victory. The dream of a second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth is alive and well as Rutgers sits just one game out of first place in the Big Ten.
On their final possession, the Scarlet Knights got the benefit of a foul call that was questionable at best. Ron Harper Jr. knocked down two free throws with 1.9 seconds left to lift Rutgers over the Hawkeyes.
The slow starts that Rutgers was accustomed to at the beginning of the season showed up once again. The good news for the Scarlet Knights is that it was on both sides.
Rutgers (11-6, 5-2) shot 33.3% from the floor in the first half while Iowa finished at 29.4%. There was a combined 20 points at the half way mark before teams began to put something together offensively. It was the Hawkeyes (13-5, 3-4) who were able to grab a slim 27-24 lead heading into the break — despite Keegan Murray struggling to begin the game. Murray came into this one scoring 23.9 points per contest.
The Scarlet Knights turned the ball over 10 times in the first half but Iowa was only able to turn those into four points.
The second half was more of the same as both sides struggled to get things going. Rutgers and Iowa combined to shoot 8-for-40 from thee point range. Harper Jr. was the leading scorer, and only Scarlet Knight in double-figures, with 15 points.
The schedule continues to be light moving forward. The Scarlet Knights will take on Minnesota on Saturday followed by matchups with Maryland, Nebraska, and Northwestern.
With the way Rutgers is capable of defending, they will always be a tough out and that was on display against Iowa. The Scarlet Knights enjoy an incredible home-court advantage and now it is all about finding ways to win on the road. Up next, the Golden Gophers.