Northwestern controlled the game from start to finish Thursday night in Evanston in a 74-57 win. The Wildcats (18-10 overall, 7-9 Big Ten) led by as many was 25 in the second half as they set a school record for regular-season wins.
Iowa (9-19, 3-12) controlled the first meeting between the schools on Feb. 10 in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes sliced through the Wildcats' 1-3-1 zone and limited cutters in Northwestern's Princeton offense during a 78-65 win. Northwestern played a stingy man-to-man defense on Thursday and excelled on offense.
"They were running their stuff and we weren't responding," Iowa sophomore Matt Gatens said on the radio postgame. "They got one backdoor against us two weeks ago and then had about five or six of them in the first half tonight. It's just too bad we didn't come out ready. When a team like this gets confidence, they're pretty tough to stop."
John Shurna hurt Iowa early with backdoor plays and finished with 29 points on 10 of 14 shooting from the floor. Northwestern's ability to get in the paint led to Hawkeye post players Aaron Fuller, Jarryd Cole and Andrew Brommer being in foul trouble.
"Those guys are huge parts of this team," Gatens said. "Aaron and Jarryd both, they got those quick fouls. That's tough.
"Give Northwestern credit. They went at them."
Gatens paced the Hawkeyes with 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists. He shot 4 of 13 from the floor, including 0 for 6 from beyond the arc. Cully Payne added 10 points in a losing cause.
Iowa turned the ball over 14 times, 10 in the first half when the game for all intents and purposes was decided. The Hawkeyes totaled 17 field goals on the night.
Iowa looked rusty after having eight days off between games.
"There's no excuse for it," Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter said during his postgame radio interview. "It's an interesting schedule, though, when we played game after game after game, I was concerned about that. Then you're concerned if you have eight days off.
"Don't you think we could come up with a schedule where maybe you play every three or four days instead of every two days and then eight days off? "
Lickliter said he sensed his team's focus wasn't good or where it needed to be before Thursday's game.
"You have to give them a lot of credit for not liking what happened in Iowa City," the coach said. "Maybe we thought that we had the answer or something, but obviously we didn't have the answer."