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Rutgers men's basketball falls to Iowa to end winning streak

Fifth-year guard Caleb McConnell and the Rutgers men's basketball team struggled to contain Iowa and fell to the Hawkeyes 76-65. – Photo by @RutgersMBB / Twitter

The Rutgers men’s basketball team fell to Iowa 76-65 this afternoon. The loss snapped the Scarlet Knights' (11-5, 3-2) five-game win streak.

The Hawkeyes (10-6, 2-3) got off to a fast start scoring the first 8 points of the game and holding Rutgers scoreless in the first four minutes of the game. The Knights would be chasing Iowa for the rest of the first half.

With 3:55 remaining in the first half, a made free throw from junior forward Mawot Mag would cut Rutgers’ deficit to 4 points. The Hawkeyes would respond with another 8-point scoring run to take a 42-30 lead into halftime.

Throughout the first half, Iowa seemed one step ahead of the Knights. Every time Rutgers brought the lead back down to single digits, the Hawkeyes responded and were able to reestablish their double-digit lead.

In the first half, Iowa shot 51.6 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from beyond the arc. The Knights struggled to take the Hawkeyes out of their rhythm as Iowa counteracted Rutgers’ pressure with good passing. The Hawkeyes had nine assists in the first half and also had four more rebounds than the Knights.

Rutgers could not get its three-point shots to fall in the first half only shooting 22.2 percent from three-point range. Despite the team's shooting struggles, senior guard Cam Spencer had 8 points in the first half and shot 2-for-3 from beyond the arc.

Not much changed in the second half as Iowa came out of the gates fast and took a 17-point lead with just over 15 minutes left to play. The Knights crawled back with a 12-point scoring run to cut the Hawkeyes' lead to 5 points with just under 9 minutes to play.

Payton Sandfort would help Iowa regain its double-digit lead and control of the game. Sandfort scored 11 straight points for the Hawkeyes including three consecutive three-pointers. Rutgers would attempt one last comeback, cutting Iowa’s lead to 6 points but ultimately, the Hawkeyes were able to close out the game to give the Knights their second Big Ten loss.

Rutgers struggled to break down Iowa’s zone defense. The Knights did not hold the lead for one second of the game and the Hawkeyes scored 76 points on Rutgers, the most it has allowed an opponent to score all season. 

Iowa committed 15 turnovers but had 17 assists. The Hawkeyes also shot 44.4 percent from three-point range. Sandfort led the team with an efficient 22 points on eight shots.

Spencer stood out for the Knights, scoring 13 points, corralling five rebounds and getting three assists. Spencer’s plus-two plus/minus was the highest on the team. Fifth-year guard Caleb McConnell scored an efficient 12 points to go along with his seven rebounds, four assists and four steals.

Rutgers will look to get back to winning ways when it travels to Welsh-Ryan Arena to take on Northwestern on Wednesday. The game will tip off at 9 p.m. and will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network and 88.7 WRSU-FM.

“We have done a really good job of defending three-point land and we didn’t tonight. That hurt us,” said head coach Steve Pikiell after the game. “Coach McCaffrey does a great job and they have got a lot of weapons…Last 20 minutes of the Indiana game and today is as good a 60 minutes as anyone has played in this league. So give them a tip of the hat.”

For more updates on the Rutgers men's basketball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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