Iowa men continue surge with 86-77 win at Minnesota
Fran McCaffery surpasses Tom Davis to become Iowa's all-time winningest head coach with 272 wins
By Pat Harty
Fran McCaffery might overreact sometimes in the heat of competition, but he didn’t overreact when his team started 0-3 in Big Ten play for the second straight season.
He stayed calm and stuck to his one-game-at-a-time approach because that’s really all he could do under the circumstances.
McCaffery and his players have just kept working and believing that the wins would come, and now they’re coming; the latest being an 86-77 victory over Minnesota on Monday at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
It was Iowa’s third straight win in conference play, and it was Fran McCaffery’s 272nd win as the Iowa head coach, surpassing Tom Davis for most wins in program history.
Fran McCaffery became emotional when asked on the Big Ten Network post-game interview what it means to move past Davis in wins.
“It means a lot, compared to Tom Davis” Fran McCaffery said, his voice cracking with emotion. “I came here 14 years ago and never thought this would happen.”
The victory improved Iowa’s record to 11-6 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten play, while the Gophers fell to 12-5 and 3-3.
Iowa played without senior forward Patrick McCaffery, who is dealing with ankle soreness.
Sophomore guard Josh Dix replaced Patrick McCaffery in the starting lineup and Dix would take advantage of the opportunity by scoring a career-high 21 points.
Dix has now scored a career-high in points in each of the past two games as he had 16 in the 94-76 win over Nebraska last Friday.
The Gophers also struggled to defend Iowa graduate transfer Ben Krikke, who scored 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting from the field.
Iowa has now won three straight games in Minneapolis for the first time since the mid-1950s.
Former Iowa All-America enter Luka Garza was seated behind the Iowa bench for Monday’s game. He currently plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Garza watched as his former team overcame a slow start and a few Minnesota runs to prevail on the road.
Freshman point guard Brock Harding made a floater in the lane following a spin move to give Iowa a 59-47 lead with 10 minutes, 38 seconds left to play.
Minnesota forward Dawson Garcia made a basket and drew a fourth foul on Iowa freshman Owen Freeman, cutting the deficit to 59-54 with 8:44 remaining.
Garcia missed the free throw, but the Gophers were on a 7-0 scoring run when Dix made a three to give Iowa a 62-54 lead with about eight minutes remaining.
The Gophers cut the deficit to 67-62, but Iowa guard Tony Perkins answered with a traditional 3-point play.
Perkins made another basket on Iowa’s next possession, expanding the lead to 71-62 with less than four minutes to play.
Iowa’s lead never fell below six points the rest of the way.
Minnesota bolted to a 6-1 lead, causing Fran McCaffery to call his first timeout with 17:49 left in the first half.
McCaffery often lets his team play through tough stretches without calling a timeout, especially early in games.
But that wasn’t the case in Monday’s game.
Minnesota would go on to builds of 10-1 and a 14-3 lead, but then Iowa answered with a 7-0 scoring run that swelled to a 13-2 run.
Krikke made his fourth basket in the game to give Iowa a 20-18 lead near the midway point of the first half.
So, Fran McCaffery’s squad countered Minnesota’s initial punch and would go on to take a 24-19 lead on a dunk by Owen Freeman with just under eight minutes left in the half.
Freeman’s dunk was set up by a steal near midcourt and a nifty behind-the-back pass from Brock Harding in transition.
However, Freeman picked up his second foul with 4:57 left in the first half and then went to the bench for the rest of the half with Iowa leading, 30-26.
The Hawkeyes played well without their talented freshman down the stretch in the first half and led 39-32 at halftime.
Both teams only made one 3-point basket in the first half, but the Gophers took 14 shots from behind the arc to Iowa’s six.
Iowa made 17-of-35 field-goal attempts in the first half and had 13 assists.
Krikke led Iowa with 12 points in the first half on 6-of-8 shooting from the field.
Iowa had four turnovers in the first three minutes of the game, but then just one for the remainder of the first half.
Freeman only played 17 minutes before fouling out, but he still scored 12 points and led Iowa with eight rebounds.
Freeman has been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week for two straight weeks and six times overall.