Northwestern vs. Iowa

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery reacts as he talks to his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northwestern on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, in Evanston, Ill. The Hawkeyes lost 89-54. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)


After-thoughts from Iowa’s 89-54 loss to Northwestern:

--You could make a case for this being Iowa’s worst game of the season yet. The loss to Omaha was embarrassing and that game against Virginia down in Florida the day after Thanksgiving was bad, but this may have been worse. It’s the Hawkeyes’ largest margin of defeat ever in 175 meetings with Northwestern and it really wasn’t even close. The previous worst was a 98-76 loss in 1964.

--It wasn’t all a case of Iowa being bad. Northwestern is really good. We knew all along that Bryant McIntosh was a great point guard but Scott Lindsey has come into his own as a wing scorer, Vic Law is a very well-rounded player, Dererk Pardon is an underrated big man and the Wildcats have a decent bench. Even Sanjay Lumpkin nailed a 3-point field goal in the game. Lumpkin used to be the most offensively-challenged starter in the Big Ten. For three years, it wasn’t even necessary to guard him. Now he’s making threes. This team is going to make the NCAA tournament for the first time, ending what had been Chicago’s second biggest sports drought.

--The Wildcats did a good job on Peter Jok but they really didn’t do anything different against the Iowa star than what other teams have done all season. There was some suggestion after the game that Jok’s back was bothering him. There also were a few instances in which he just didn’t play very hard. Near the end of the first half, Lindsey simply outhustled him going down the court and went past him for a layup.

--It may be time to reconsider Isaiah Moss as a starter. For the fourth straight game he played fewer than 20 minutes and for the second straight game he scored just two points. It’s not as though he contributes a lot as a rebounder or defender. He also had three turnovers in his 16 minutes of action.

--You got the feeling after the game that Fran McCaffery may also be contemplating putting Ryan Kriener into the lineup after the 6-foot-9 freshman had his second straight strong game while Cordell Pemsl struggled. Kriener has a ways to go defensively but he looks supremely confident shooting the ball. He scored 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting.

--Besides Kriener, a few other Iowa reserves had some OK moments. Christian Williams twice got steals and went in for easy layups and Ahmad Wagner had a career-high five assists. The Hawkeyes actually played much better for a few minutes when McCaffery yanked all five of his starters out of the game with 16 minutes, 49 seconds to go in the game. Most of the starters later went back into the game but only one of them scored after that.

--Dom Uhl did not play, apparently because of an injury to the thumb on his right hand but there was no word on how long he might be out. Uhl injured the thumb on an aborted dunk attempt Thursday night against Purdue.