You wouldn't have known that from watching what transpired on the court, however. The Hawkeyes looked like the hungrier team from the opening tip to the final horn.
Iowa ended a four-game skid with a 78-65 victory in front of an announced crowd of 8,697 fans. The Hawkeyes (9-16 overall, 3-9 Big Ten) shredded Northwestern's 1-3-1 half court zone and stymied the Wildcats' Princeton offense.
"I think there's a lot to be said about guys that don't give up and persevere," Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter said. "We've been playing good basketball yet being disappointed, and they don't get discouraged. We finally played good basketball for a long period of time, which is obviously a necessity against this good Northwestern team."
The Hawkeyes blistered the nets from long range, connecting on 12 of 24 shots from beyond the arc, which represented their best percentage of the season. Devon Bawinkel did the damage early, setting up shop in the corner against the 1-3-1 and hit on 5 of 8 trey attempts on the night.
"We got smacked," Northwestern Coach Bill Carmody said. "They just started making shots right from the beginning and their good shooters were getting the ball. It was like we disregarded the scouting report on Bawinkel."
Aaron Fuller posted his fourth double of the season and second in a row scoring 13 points and grabbing 11 rebounds despite foul trouble. Matt Gatens netted 16 points to go with six rebounds and three assists. Jarryd Cole chipped in with 13 and seven for the winners.
The Hawkeyes finished the night shooting 23 of 46 from the floor. They dished out 18 assists against just eight turnovers.
"What you really look for is if they're getting good shots," Lickliter said. "They're not always going to go in. We've had some pretty good looks in the past. They just didn't go in. We didn't get discouraged."
Anthony Tucker missed his 14th game after being suspended for public intoxication on Dec. 20. The sophomore dressed in uniform for a second contest in a row.
The Wildcats fell to 16-8 overall and 5-7 in the Big Ten with Wednesday's loss.
Iowa returns to action Saturday afternoon for a 3:30 p.m. tip at Purdue.