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Iowa Basketball: Previewing Iowa's trip to Piscataway to take on Rutgers

Breaking down the matchup between Iowa and Rutgers on Tuesday night.

Iowa (12-10, 4-5) at Rutgers (12-10, 1-8)

Date & Time: January 31st, 6:01 p.m. CT

Location: The RAC (Piscataway, NJ)

TV: BTN

Quick Notes

- Iowa defeated Rutgers by a final of 68-62 back on January 8th in Iowa City.

- Five freshmen combined for 51 points in Iowa's win over Ohio State on Saturday.

- The Hawkeyes are 21-37 in Big Ten road games with Fran McCaffery at helm.

- The Hawkeyes are 0-5 on the road this year, including 0-4 in Big Ten games.

- Peter Jok led the Hawkeyes with 18 points in the last game against Rutgers. He likely will not play Tuesday. 

- Iowa is 4-0 all-time against Rutgers and 1-0 in Piscataway. 

- Iowa scored 90 points in their meeting with Rutgers last season in Piscataway. 

- Rutgers is the top rebounding team in the conference averaging 42.2 boards per game.

- Rutgers has the worst scoring offense (66.9) in the Big Ten, but the third best scoring defense (65.1).

- The Knights have three players averaging double figures with Corey Sanders leading the way at 12.6 points per game. 

Iowa Starters

Jordan Bohannon (FR): Bohannon had four big three pointers on Saturday night against Ohio State, including one from about 32 feet away from the basket. Only one assist for the talented freshman, but he did have two steals and four rebounds in the Hawkeye win. He only played 29 minutes, which seems low for him, but Iowa kept their guys fresh throughout the game and it helped late.

Isaiah Moss (RSFR): Moss picked up two quick fouls on Saturday against Ohio State, but had all 6 of his points in the second half and helped the Hawkeyes maintain their lead. Moss got a shot up early in the first half, which I liked. With a scorer like him, you have to get him going early. And with Jok out, he's the guy you need to get going. He's also Iowa's best perimeter defender and that'll help when trying to keep the quick Rutgers guards in front.

Nicholas Baer (RSSO): Baer was inserted into the starting lineup on Saturday and he was his typical self. He was just 3-9 from the floor, but had 6 points, 8 boards, 3 assists, and 3 blocks in the win. I expect him to keep starting because he gives Iowa a bunch of energy, which they need. With this game being on the road, Baer will need to be sharp early on. 

Ahmad Wagner (SO): Not his best game on Saturday, but he was solid in his 17 minutes. He had 4 points and 6 rebounds and gave Iowa good energy over the first four minutes of the game. Wagner's athleticism makes him so valuable on defense and on the glass. He'll play a big role keeping Rutgers' athletic bigs off the glass on Tuesday.

Tyler Cook (FR): Cook had 10 of his 13 points in the second half on Saturday night and was much more aggressive from half-to-half. He was calling for the ball and once he got it he headed straight for the rim. He was making Micah Potter look silly on Iowa's side and he needs to do just that again on Tuesday. He needs to be aggressive from the get go because he's that good on the block.

Iowa Bench Pieces

Ryan Kriener (FR): This guy, man. He's been the surprise of the last few weeks and was one of the best Hawkeyes on Saturday night. He had 14 points and 7 rebounds in 21 minutes and continues to be effective. If he keeps playing like this his minutes will continue to grow. 

Brady Ellingson (RSSO): The man of the night on Saturday. Ellingson had 17 points on 5-7 from three and Thad Matta didn't have a clue how to stop him. The Hawkeyes would collect offensive rebounds and Brady was waiting on the three point line. That is about the easiest shot for a shooter like Brady. The step in 3. I don't think he'll give you 17 each night out, but when you get it, you'll take it.

Cordell Pemsl (FR): He took on a bench role on Saturday night, but was excellent in his 15 minutes. He had 6 points on 3-3 shooting to go along with 5 assists. Pemsl's minutes had dwindled a little bit, but it doesn't seem to be affecting his attitude all that much. 

Christian Williams (SO): Williams played just 11 minutes on Saturday and had 1 point, but he gives Bohannon needed rest when he is in the game. Plus, he's aggressive going to the rim when he runs the break.

Dom Uhl (JR): In his second game back from injury, Dom was great. He had 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists in 21 minutes and was showing great hustle and energy on the court. If Dom keeps giving Iowa that performance, he'll continue to play 20 minutes a game. He had 10 points, 8 boards, and 5 blocks last time out against RU.

Rutgers Starters

Deshawn Freeman (JR): Freeman is one of the top rebounders in the Big Ten. He missed a huge chunk of last season only to come back and be a top performer on this Rutgers team. He had 19 points and 13 rebounds in the first matchup between these teams, while also shooting 9-13 from the field. He recorded back-to-back double doubles against Iowa and Northwestern in early to mid January, but hasn't gotten to that point in the past four. He's a beast in the paint. 

CJ Gettys (SR): Gettys is a big body for Steve Pikiell's team. He's 7' even and 280 pounds. He's scored in double digits twice in the last four games, but I was impressed with how he played early on against Wisconsin. He's not very smooth with his back to the basket, but can cause some issues for teams with how big he is. He had 2 points and 7 rebounds in the first meeting this season.

Corey Sanders (SO): Sanders is without a doubt the Knights' most dynamic player. He's the only player averaging double figures in conference play for RU (15.4) and has the potential to be a real problem off the dribble. He's struggling from three this season, shooting well below 30% from behind the arc. But he hasn't taken more than 3 in a game all season long. That tells me he's making more of an effort to get to the rim. He's scored in double figures in the last 8 games, including 13 points against Iowa in 36 minutes. He's the guy for Pikiell and RU.

Nigel Johnson (JR): Johnson has been a blessing for Rutgers. The transfer from Kansas State is averaging 11.5 points per game this season and has scored in double figures in 5 of the last 7 ball games. He had 13 points against Iowa the last time out, but was just 1-6 from three. Over the last two games he is 0-7 from three point land. Iowa really needs to make an effort to keep these two guards out of the lane, because if they can force them to take jump shots, it takes them out of their game.

Eugene Omoruyi (FR): He starts, but he doesn't play much or score much. He averages just 2 points and 2 boards per game for RU and is pretty much just a role guy for them. At 6'6 and 230 pounds he gives them another big forward that can defend. He only plays about 12 minutes per game, so don't expect much out of Omoruyi. 

Things to Watch

Road Games

It's no secret the Hawkeyes haven't won a road game this season. They're 0-5 overall and 0-4 in the Big Ten. Tuesday is a chance for them to garner that first road victory. Unfortunately for Iowa, the road games are not exactly close. They are losing road games by an average of 15 points right now. Rutgers does have one conference win and it did come at home against a depleted Nebraska team. Ironically, Iowa is a bit depleted as well. The Hawkeyes looked good at home against Ohio State, but they've looked putrid on the road this season. A big thing to watch is going to be which team shows up. The first four minutes of each half will be crucial for Iowa. 

Boards

I made mention to the fact that Rutgers is atop the Big Ten in rebounds per game. Some of it has to do with the fact that they miss a lot of shots. But they have some pretty athletic forwards in their lineup that cause problems for opposing teams as well. Freeman leads the way averaging 8.3 boards per game, but they also have three different guys that average between 4 and 5 per game. They like to crash the glass and they out-rebounded the Hawkeyes by 8 in Iowa City with Freeman recording 13, 5 of which came on the offensive side. Keeping him out of the lane and off the glass is a major key for Iowa. They should be able to throw enough bodies at him that they'll neutralize him a bit, but going right at him on offense will be big too. If they can get Freeman into some foul trouble, much like they did to Trevor Thompson on Saturday, they heighten their chances of winning. Iowa needs a team effort on the glass on Tuesday.

Fast Start

The main issue on the road has been slow starts for the Hawkeyes. In games against Northwestern, Purdue, and Illinois the Hawkeyes got out to dreadful starts. They've been behind the 8 ball in just about every road game to start, which means they've had to scratch and claw their way back into the game. They can't have that against a Rutgers team that is struggling for wins at this point. Letting Rutgers get out to an early lead only boosts confidence and makes it difficult on you. This isn't last years Rutgers team. They proved this past weekend that they can hang when they took Wisconsin to the brink at Madison Square Garden. Getting out quick on staying out front is imperative to a Hawkeye team struggling for wins on the road. 

Prediction

This is a tough one for me. In one aspect, the Hawkeyes haven't given me any reason to believe they can win on the road. Now trying to do that without Peter Jok is going to be a completely different animal. Then in another aspect, Rutgers is 1-8 in the Big Ten. Iowa struggled a bit with them in the game in Iowa City, which, outside of their lone win, has been their closest Big Ten game. I think Iowa is going to struggle to keep Rutgers' guards in front of them, which leads to easy buckets in the paint. Tyler Cook had just 4 points in the first go around and Ryan Kriener wasn't playing consistent minutes at that point, so RU has some different things to prepare for. No Peter Jok will certainly make preparation easier for the Knights. For me it's a toss up, but I think the Hawkeyes do escape Piscataway with a win. 

Iowa 72 Rutgers 68


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