Rutgers strolls past Hawkeyes
By MATT SUGAM
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — With Mike Williams out for the foreseeable future, Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell gave his team a simple message on Wednesday night.
“All hands on deck.”
After Williams injured his ankle in the last 10 minutes of practice on Saturday, the Scarlet Knights were ill-prepared to play without their senior captain against now-No. 22 Ohio State on Sunday. That wasn’t the case against Iowa Wednesday night.
“We had two days to prepare,” Pikiell said. “I told these guys that you have to step up.”
And step up they did.
Corey Sanders scored 18 points with eight assists and two steals and Geo Baker had 17 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals, to lead Rutgers past Iowa 80-64.
While Iowa (10-10, 1-6 Big Ten) was able to overcome a 20-point deficit in its last game at Illinois, they were unable to do it a second time in a row. Rutgers (12-8, 2-5) led by as many as 23 points with 14:31 to go.
“I thought we could (come back),” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “We were down 14 at half. You want to get it under 10 and then it’s a three-possession game almost, but we never really until the very end did we ever look comfortable offensively.”
Jordan Bohannon scored 23 points, including five 3s, and Tyler Cook had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawkeyes.
Rutgers went on a 12-0 run capped off with a steal and dunk by Baker to take a 23-13 with 7:53 left in the first half. The Scarlet Knights followed that with a 13-6 run, once again capped off by Baker, who hit a 3 with 3:48 to go to make it 36-19 before heading into the break with a 38-24 lead.
Deshawn Freeman scored 14 points with eight rebounds and Issa Thiam added 16 points for Rutgers, including a career-high four 3-pointers.
“Coach says we have to do a little bit more (without Williams),” Sanders said. “Those rebounds that Mike gets. The hustle plays that he does. Everybody has to put in a little more effort to pick up his slack.”
Iowa: After their first Big Ten win of the season, the young Hawkeyes were unable to win back-to-back conference games and fell to .500. They were below .500 early in the season at 4-6.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights got a much-needed win after losing Williams. For a team that lacks depth, any injury would be troublesome, but the senior captain is Rutgers’ sixth man with intangibles that can’t be replaced.
While Williams (ankle) was out last game, Matt Bullock and walk-on Jake Dadika did not see action against now-No. 22 Ohio State. That was not the case against Iowa. By midway through the first half, both had checked in and combined for 11 minutes. It was Bullock’s first minutes all season and he scored two points and made an assist.
BOHANNON’S BIG 3s
Bohannon came into the game leading the Big Ten in 3-pointers with 2.73 per game. He helped boost that average, making five 3s on nine shots.
Rutgers had been 0-5 and 0-2 at the RAC against Iowa in the series that dated back to 1989. Rutgers joined the Big Ten in 2014.
Iowa: Host No. 3 Purdue for a Saturday matinee.
Rutgers: At No. 23 Michigan on Saturday afternoon.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.