Iowa can't afford to slip up at Minnesota
Iowa will look to begin building momentum toward a fourth straight NCAA Tournament bid when it visits reeling Minnesota in Big Ten play on Sunday in Minneapolis.
The Hawkeyes (15-9, 7-6) ended a three-game winning streak with an 87-73 loss at No. 1 Purdue on Thursday.
The Golden Gophers (7-15, 1-11), who have dropped seven in a row and nine of their past 10 games, have been idle since last weekend due to COVID-19 protocols.
Iowa trailed Purdue by 21 with 18:14 remaining before pulling to within 70-64 following Filip Rebraca's jumper with 5:39 to play. But that's as close as Iowa would get.
Kris Murray, who averages a team-high 20.7 points per game, scored 24 points and Rebraca added 17. Iowa was outrebounded 43-23.
The Hawkeyes entered this weekend in a three-way tie for seventh place in the Big Ten.
"I think we always say it's the best league top to bottom, but I don't think it's ever been this difficult top to bottom," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "Every game is really hard. Every team has a really good coach, every team has really good players. And seemingly every team has some veteran guys.
"So you have to play really well to win, especially on the road. It puts a lot more pressure on those teams that are playing at home. You feel like you have to win."
The Golden Gophers have had trouble winning anywhere recently.
Minnesota has struggled mightily without Dawson Garcia, its leading scorer (14.9) and rebounder (6.3) who has missed the past four games and is out indefinitely with a bruised bone in his foot.
The Gophers have been outscored 252-162 in their past three games combined, the most recent an 81-46 clobbering at Maryland on Feb. 4.
"I know exactly what they're feeling. No one enjoys what we're going through," Minnesota coach Ben Johnson said. "The guys have to be on the court and in class and got to hear the noise. No one enjoys that, but they also need to know that there's going to be brighter days ahead."
The Gophers trailed the Terrapins by 20 at halftime and by as many as 42 in the second half. Minnesota finished with its lowest-scoring output of the season. Pharrel Payne scored a team-high 14 points.
--Field Level Media
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