While a visit from Iowa generally doesn’t generate the buzz that say a Duke, Michigan State or Purdue might, that wasn’t the case in 2016.
It had been a while since Iowa had a top 10 team. In fact, you’d have to go back to the Dr. Tom Davis teams of the 80’s and 90’s to find a Hawkeye team ranked this high this late in the season. Think of Roy Marble Sr., B.J. Armstrong and those cool all black and yellow Nike high-tops.
But coming into their February 11, 2016 matchup with Indiana (19-5, 9-2), the Hawkeyes (19-4, 10-1) had everything clicking. Ranked No. 4 in the country and threatening to run away with the Big Ten, Iowa came to Bloomington with a swagger. Iowa was loaded with a strong senior class including Jarrod Uthoff, Mike Gesell, Adam Woodbury and Anthony Clemmons. Their starting lineup also including emerging star Peter Jok, and off the bench they had a group of feisty freshmen and sophomores.
With the significance of the game and the buzz surrounding Iowa’s Top 5 ranking, the crowd at Assembly Hall was at its best. Indiana would feed off that energy early, and ran out to a 36-20 lead before Iowa knew what hit them. As was common with Indiana teams playing at home under coach Tom Crean, the Hoosiers rained a barrage of 3-pointers on the Hawkeyes to gain the early 16 point margin, including three from Nick Zeisloft and one each from Collin Hartman, Yogi Ferrell and Robert Johnson.
Iowa gathered itself behind a couple Peter Jok 3-pointers, and it wasn’t long before the Hawkeyes had cut the lead to 43-38. The Hoosiers would hit a couple free throws to make the halftime score 45-38.
Iowa brought their momentum into the second half and got their first lead at 47-45 at the 17:22 mark on a Jok layup. Iowa would maintain a slight edge for the next 8 minutes, including its largest lead of four (60-56) at the 9:41 mark.
Enter walk-on Indiana guard Harrison Niego, who came into the game and proceeded to bury a jump shot, and then a minute later came up with a steal that led to a Max Bielfeldt layup. That gave Indiana a 64-61 lead at the 7:45 mark and the momentum was starting to turn back in IU’s favor. The Assembly Hall crowd was electrified by the play of Niego.
A traditional 3-point play by Troy Williams and a 3-point shot by Yogi Ferrell suddenly gave Indiana a 70-62 lead at 6:26. While Iowa would continue to fight, they could never get back within 3 points. The final score was Indiana 85, Iowa 77.
Prior to this game, Indiana had a 9-2 conference record against what many had viewed as a relatively soft lineup of B1G opponents. The win over Iowa legitimized the Hoosiers as B1G title contenders. They would only lose one more conference game from there on their way to a 15-3 conference mark and the outright title. Interestingly, they would clinch the conference title a few weeks later in Iowa City.
See the game highlights here:
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Photo Credit: Getty Images/ Joe Robbins (Woodbury photo)
Photo Credit: AP/ Darron Cummings (Uthoff)
Photo Credit: Robert Scheer | Indy Star (Niego)