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Rapid Reaction: No. 5 Iowa thrashes Northwestern 96-73 in an ugly matinee

NU tried to outshoot one of the best shooting teams in the country. It did not end well.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Northwestern Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

EVANSTON, Illinois — Even an 11 a.m. tip-off on Sunday in Evanston couldn’t slow down No. 5 Iowa (11-2, 6-1 B1G) as Northwestern (6-6, 3-5 B1G) fell to the Hawkeyes 96-73.

After the ‘Cats hung with one of the nation’s best teams for most of the first half, things fell apart quickly and brutally as Iowa continued its hot shooting and wore NU out. It’s the fifth straight game in which NU has allowed 80 points as its defensive issues persist.

Despite Boo Buie finally overcoming his shooting struggles in the first half, Northwestern simply lacked the offensive star power to compete with the Hawkeyes.

Buie chipped in 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the field (4-8 from three) with all 12 points coming in the first half. Beyond Buie, backup guard Ryan Greer poured in 10 points. Pete Nance was Northwestern leading scorer with 16 points, but it was a quiet 16, as Nance scored 12 points in the second half when the game was well out of reach.

In the Wildcats’ first matchup against Iowa, head coach Chris Collins put an emphasis on limiting Luka Garza in the paint which opened up the perimeter for the Hawkeyes. In today’s matchup, the ‘Cats failed to stop both Garza and the rest of Iowa’s weapons.

Five Hawkeyes scored in double figures as Iowa shot 58% from the field and 42% from three. Garza ultimately finished with 17 points, all scored in the first half, while Joe Wieskamp scored 16 points and C.J. Fredrick finished with 13 points.

After a slow first few minutes from both teams, the Hawkeyes, led by two deep threes from noted Northwestern killer Jordan Bohannon, jumped out to a 19-9 lead with 13 minutes remaining in the first half. NU sophomore forward Robbie Beran picked up two quick fouls, forcing Chris Collins to send him to the bench.

Sophomore point guard Boo Buie, who shot just 2-for-29 from the field in the prior four games, kept the Wildcats in it in the first half. He hit four triples in a stretch of as many minutes to help NU claw back to within 21-20.

While Buie got a rest, backup point guard Ryan Greer continued Northwestern’s three-point palooza with two more treys. A free throw from him put NU up 29-28, but that’s when Iowa took over. The Wildcats missed their next five shots and went scoreless for nearly six minutes while Iowa went on a 9-0 run and surged to a 37-29 lead, forcing a NU timeout with 4:22 remaining in the first half.

Garza, a National Player of the Year candidate, had 17 first-half points on 7-of-10 shooting, which was a key factor in the Hawkeyes’ 49-37 halftime lead.

Northwestern did not make any sort of push out of the locker room, and Iowa never looked back. Connor McCaffery and C.J. Fredrick each scored five quick points out of the break, giving the Hawkeyes a 59-39 lead a few minutes in.

Iowa’s biggest lead of the game extended to 29 points with a little over four minutes remaining in the first half. Iowa also reached the double bonus 12 minutes into the second half.

The Wildcats have now lost five straight after winning their first three conference games. They return to action Wednesday at No. 9 Wisconsin.