Northwestern has found much of its success this season behind strong guard play and stout defense.
Both of those elements were at their absolute peak on Sunday, as Scottie Lindsey scored 22, Bryant McIntosh had 20 and the Wildcats dominated both ends of the court in a convincing 89-54 win over Iowa at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
“You close your eyes and you envision a night like tonight,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. “That’s what I dreamed of. It was as loud as it’s been in (Welsh-Ryan Arena) since I’ve been here.”
Lindsey had a career-high eight rebounds while McIntosh, who was honored before the game for scoring his 1000th career point on Jan. 5 against Minnesota, shot an efficient 9 for 11 from the field and added 10 assists for his first double-double this season.
“They were both really good,” Collins said. “Quietly, they like to view themselves as an elite backcourt. I thought they were both tremendous tonight.”
The Wildcats defense also impressed. Facing a Hawkeyes team that ranked near the top of the Big Ten at 83.0 points per game, the Wildcats limited Iowa (11-8, 3-3 Big Ten) to 35.3 percent from the field, 23.5 percent from behind the arc and the team’s lowest scoring total in 14 games.
Northwestern (15-4, 4-2) is second in the Big Ten with 63.9 points allowed per game.
Peter Jok felt the brunt of that defensive effort. Entering Sunday with a Big Ten-best 22.9 points per game, Jok had just four points against the Wildcats, snapping a streak of 22 games where he scored in double figures.
“Personally, I didn’t have any energy tonight and I think they fed off that,” Jok said. “I’ve just got to toughen up and be a better leader. I didn’t think I was a very good leader tonight.”
Northwestern opened the contest with a quick 8-0 advantage and seldom wavered from there. Iowa nearly closed the gap in the first half, cutting the deficit to three, but the Wildcats quickly answered with a 14-1 run.
The Wildcats have won three straight. Their last conference victory of 20 or more points came in a 98-59 rout on Feb. 27, 2016 against Rutgers.
Tyler Cook and Ryan Kriener each had 14 points to lead Iowa.
It marks the Hawkeyes second defeat this season of 30 or more, as Iowa lost 74-41 on Nov. 25 to then-No. 6 Virginia.
Northwestern out-rebounded Iowa 39 to 24, and holds a plus-23 rebounding margin over the three-game winning streak.
“They were focused and locked down,” Cook said. “We let them do what they wanted to do and that’s why tonight went their way.”