It has been quite a year so far for the Scarlet Knight. The lone bump in the road — the Iowa Hawkeyes.
On Sunday, Rutgers suffered a 92-83 loss to the Hawkeyes, completing the season sweep for Iowa. The Scarlet Knights have lost 10 of their last 13 matchups against the team from Iowa City.
Iowa shot 43.3% from the field on Sunday and knocked down 12 three-pointers. In two games this year, Iowa finished 24-for-51 (47.1%) from beyond the arc. Rutgers has been one of the best defensive teams in the nation to this point of the season but the Hawkeyes were able to score 93 points, a season-high against the Scarlet Knights.
Former Rutgers star Geo Baker has remained up to date and active when it comes to Scarlet Knights’ basketball. This includes his appearances on the Field of 68. During a recent appearance, he broke down some of the struggles that Rutgers has shown against Iowa.
“With Iowa, if you look at the ball for a second, someone is cutting, backdooring, moving,” Baker said. “It’s just constant motion which, again, is a tough matchup for Rutgers overall. It’s been like that the past couple of years. I always matched up bad with them, too.”
The struggles were present during Baker’s time in Piscataway as well.
“I remember having to chase Jordan Bohannon around and it felt like there was never a second I got to rest on defense,” Baker said. “You think about Rutgers, the way they play, you have your hands in your gap, your foot over from your man and you’re packing it in to make sure there are no driving lanes.”
The Hawkeyes had four starters finished in double-figures on Sunday. Kris Murray led the way with 24 points. Iowa has plenty of balance on the offensive side of the ball and was able to control tempo against Rutgers, who does not want to play games in the 80s and 90s.
“They run great sets to get their guys open,” Baker said. “You see it with Kris Murray, you saw it last year with Keegan Murray, everything is within the offense, so it’s not like its an easy scout where it’s ‘oh, we need to defend Kris Murray 1-on-1, we need to defend Keegan Murray 1-on-1.’ No, this dude is going to run straight to the paint, post you up and try to outtough you.”
Iowa is back to .500 in Big Ten play at 5-5 while Rutgers falls to 6-4. After conference-leading Purdue, there are nine teams within one game of each other. Of course, this includes Rutgers, who has been in the top three for weeks now.
The Scarlet Knights have all the makings of an NCAA Tournament team this season and potentially one that can make a run. The Big Ten is full of talented teams that could accomplish this feat and Iowa is near the top of the list as well.
“ I really like this Iowa team a lot,” Baker said. “And in terms of March, you have to think about it, there’s not a real scout. You get one day to prepare for the team you’re going up against. In terms of making a run in the tournament, I can see Iowa as the team other than Purdue who can make it.”