Although turnovers have plagued it throughout the non-conference schedule, Iowa’s most recent victory might have been a sign the team is learning how to overcome them. The Hawkeyes seek their fifth straight win overall Friday in their final tune-up before Big Ten play starts up again next week when they host Northern Illinois.
Iowa sank a season-low three 3-pointers and committed a season-high 19 turnovers last Friday, but a 25-9 advantage at the foul line and 43-31 edge on the boards proved to be critical in an 80-73 triumph over Colorado. “We got a lot of key rebounds when we needed them. … Especially when you look at stats, we have 19 turnovers, usually you don’t win. If you have a rebounding advantage, get to (foul) line, get to double bonus, then you can overcome (the turnovers),” Hawkeyes coach Fran McCaffery told reporters. Iowa has recorded at least 17 turnovers five times this season and ranks 229th in Division I with 14.3 miscues per game, which is fewer than one forced turnover shy of the Huskies’ average for the season (15). Northern Illinois continued its month-long stretch of alternating wins and losses since Thanksgiving with a 69-63 victory over Illinois-Chicago on Dec. 21.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network Plus
ABOUT NORTHERN ILLINOIS (7-5): Each of the Huskies’ three double-digit scorers held up their end of the bargain against the Flames, as Dante Thorpe (12.5 points) continued his efficient play of late with a career-high 21 points, and the junior guard is averaging 18 points on 63.6 percent shooting over his last three outings. Levi Bradley (14.8 points, team-high 5.9 rebounds) posted his first double-double of the season, but the 6-7 junior is converting only 32.6 percent of his field-goal attempts over the last four games. Mid-American Conference leading scorer Eugene German (19.7 points) managed only 13 points against the Flames after averaging 24.2 in his previous five contests, but he is the only Northern Illinois player to reach double figures in every game.
ABOUT IOWA (8-6): Maishe Dailey (5.8 points) enjoyed the finest effort of his brief career against the Buffaloes, logging a career-high 27 minutes and scoring a personal-best 16 points to go along with five rebounds while the reserve sophomore guard was one of only two Hawkeyes - of the 11 that played - not to commit at least one turnover. “(Dailey) was fantastic. He was playing mistake-free basketball with great energy, versatility, and decision-making. He was scoring, driving, moving it, and making the right decision every time,” McCaffery told the media. Freshman reserve forward Luka Garza (9.4 points, 6.6 rebounds) was limited to two points and four boards over 11 minutes last Friday due to some early foul trouble, ending a three-game stretch in which he averaged 17.7 points and 8.3 boards.
1. Iowa is 7-0 all-time against Northern Illinois, including a 70-49 decision in their last meeting on Nov. 26, 2014.
2. The Huskies lead the MAC and rank tied for 49th in Division I in turnover margin (plus-3.3).
3. The Hawkeyes rank 10th nationally with 41.9 rebounds per game, collecting at least 41 in seven of their last eight outings (39 versus Penn State on Dec. 2).
PREDICTION: Iowa 90, Northern Illinois 77