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First Big Ten win up for grabs between Iowa, Rutgers

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Only two teams are still chasing their first Big Ten Conference win, and they intersect Saturday afternoon when Iowa welcomes Rutgers to Iowa City.

Iowa (8-6, 0-3 Big Ten) sits in the conference cellar after losses to Purdue and Michigan in December and an 83-72 defeat at No. 21 Wisconsin on Tuesday.

The Hawkeyes also started 0-3 in conference play last season, then turned it around and make the NCAA Tournament.

“I think we have to look at that as something we’ve already accomplished,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “We have to play better than we’ve played these first three games. Lost to three really good teams, but we have to not foul as much, not turn it over as much.”

Iowa held a three-point lead with 17:51 to go before Wisconsin pulled away. Tony Perkins shot 8-for-14 from the floor and 7-of-9 from the stripe for a season-high 25 points, but Iowa committed 22 fouls to allow Wisconsin to take 35 foul shots.

Owen Freeman, a 6-foot-10 freshman who has started the past five games, had 14 points and a season-high 13 rebounds for the Hawkeyes.

The Hawkeyes meet a Rutgers team finishing a two-game road trip and hungry for something to go right.

Rutgers (8-5, 0-2) fell behind by 17 points in the first half against Ohio State on Wednesday, but Derek Simpson powered the Scarlet Knights’ attempted comeback. He had 23 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals, but the gulf was too much and Ohio State held on to win 76-72.

Simpson lost his starting role to freshman Jamichael Davis during December, but with Davis now sidelined by a bone bruise in his leg, Simpson has made the most of his return to the lineup.

“I haven’t been a big shot-maker in the past couple games. I got hot a little bit,” Simpson said. “I just think if we could have done better on the defensive side, it would’ve looked better. We’re just going to keep getting better and keep growing.”

Aundre Hyatt is Rutgers’ leading scorer at 12.1 points per game, while Ben Krikke leads the Hawkeyes with 16.5 ppg, but was held to 10 at Wisconsin.

Iowa has won three in a row in the series with a sweep of the 2022-23 regular season and another victory over the Scarlet Knights in the 2022 Big Ten tournament.

–Field Level Media

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