September 19, 2019 | 49° F

Rutgers vs. Iowa: Four Observations from dominant 80-64 win

Photo by Jeffrey Gomez |

It was pouring in Piscataway on Wednesday night and that's not referring to the weather. The Rutgers men's basketball team made it rain against Iowa, scoring a Big Ten season-high in points en route to an 80-64 dismantling of the Hawkeyes.

Here are four observations from the win.

Issa Buckets

The sophomore wing from Senegal lit up the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) with his assassin-like shooting from deep. He finished with 16 points, going 4-of-6 from 3-point range. He has shown flashes at points this season, but has yet to put it all together against a quality opponent. With senior guard Mike Williams likely out for the season, Thiam was forced into a bigger role and definitely delivered on Wednesday. 

Standing at 6-foot-10 inches and playing at either shooting guard or small forward, Thiam presents a matchup problem with his combination of length and athleticism. He still has two years of eligibility remaining after this season and has the potential to develop into an All-Big Ten player.

Geo Baker and Corey Sanders played one of their best games together

With Corey Sanders initially not having his best night shooting the ball, Baker took the reigns as the primary scorer in the middle of the game when the Scarlet Knights needed him most. Sanders took over late, as he usually does, as a high-flying dunk with just more than a minute left sealed the win and brought the RAC to its feet. 

The two electric guards combined for 35 points and 13 assists, an impressive number considering the entire team averages just 11 assists per game. They both looked as good as they have this season, and when they are on their game, they are one of the best backcourts in the Big Ten.

Steve Pikiell and the coaching staff deserve tremendous credit

Assistant coach Jay Young runs the Rutgers defense and had one of his best game plans in the last two seasons. Iowa came into the game averaging 81.9 points per game and shooting 48.3 percent from the field. The Hawkeyes were held to 18 points less than their season average and were 39.3 percent shooting the ball.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery is a Big Ten veteran who at one point led his team to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. But on Wednesday, Knights head coach Steve Pikiell clearly got the best of him, shutting down his high-scoring offense and hanging 80 on his defense.

Additionally, the coaching staff did a sensational job filling the void left by Williams's injury. Pikiell utilized just about every player on the bench, including walk-on senior guard Jake Dadika and sophomore forward Matt Bullock, who saw his first action of the season and was able to make his first shot, as well as pick up an assist. 

Rutgers dominated a real Big Ten team for the first time

There were times in Wednesday's game when the Knights made Iowa look like a Division III team. The Hawkeyes looked out of sorts on offense and had one of their worst games of the season in terms of scoring. On the other end of the floor, a typically-weak Rutgers offense picked them apart. When you factor in the level of opponent, it was easily the Knights' best offensive game of the season.

Thiam has always had a great shot, but has also struggled with confidence. He caught fire in the first half, and Iowa didn't seem to have a clue how to defend the 3-point line. 

At the end of the game, the Hawkeyes were disheveled and couldn't hold on to the ball, leading to a multitude of easy buckets for Rutgers. Iowa also ran a full-court press for nearly the entire second half, which didn't have an effect until the game was just about out of reach. The Knights had no problem breaking it as they cruised to victory.

For updates on the Rutgers men's basketball team, follow @GriffinWhitmer and @TargumSports on Twitter.

Griffin Whitmer

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