Iowa center Luka Garza (55) shoots over Northwestern forward Pete Nance, left, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 87-72. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
- Visiting Iowa is a 2.5-point favorite over Rutgers in a Big Ten game on Saturday at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, NJ
- Rutgers star forward Ron Harper Jr. is listed as questionable because of a sprained ankle
- Iowa center Luka Garza leads the nation in scoring at 27.7 points a game
After getting on track in their last games, #10 Iowa and #14 Rutgers will look to stay on track when they meet in a Big Ten contest at 2 pm ET Saturday at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J.
The Hawkeyes and Scarlet Knights both won at home Tuesday night after losing their previous games. Iowa beat Northwestern 87-72 as a 10.5-point favorite and Rutgers got by Purdue 81-76 as a 1.5-point favorite.
Iowa is 8-2 overall, 2-1 in the Big Ten and 7-3 against the spread. The Hawkeyes have split their last four games on the heels of a 6-0 start.
Rutgers is 7-1, 3-1 and 4-3-1.
Iowa vs Rutgers Odds
|Iowa||-152||-2.5 (-114)||Over 158.5 (-110)|
|Rutgers||+128||+2.5 (-106)||Under 158.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Jan. 1 from FanDuel
Winning Without Its Star
Rutgers bounced back from its first loss of the season at Ohio State to beat Purdue despite being without its best player.
Junior wing Ron Harper Jr. missed the game with a sprained ankle and his status for Iowa is questionable. The son of the five-time NBA champion is averaging 23.4 points and 7.1 rebounds while shooting 56.5% from the field and 50% on 3-point attempts.
We’re not sure which is better by Ron Harper Jr:
The save or the slam for @RutgersMBB 🔥 pic.twitter.com/Cg5wkt2iS4
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) January 29, 2020
The status of freshman center Cliff Omoruyi (knee) is also in question after he missed the last two games. He is averaging 5.3 points and 5.8 rebounds.
Junior guard Montez Mathis helped fill the scoring void against Purdue with a game-high 25 points, including 16 in the second half. Mathis raised his season scoring average to 15.6.
Keep adding to that career night, @MontezMathis! 🔥@RutgersMBB is in a good one: pic.twitter.com/B3CT6lguGV
— Rutgers On BTN (@RutgersOnBTN) December 30, 2020
Senior guard Geo Baker more than doubled his scoring average by finishing with 19 points. He also had six rebounds and four assists.
Senior guard Jacob Young had 13 points and four assists after missing the second half of the Ohio State game when he was shaken up while fouled during a dunk attempt. He is scoring 15.5 points a game.
Rutgers made 14 of 17 free throws against the Boilermakers, which was a welcome sign. The Scarlet Knights entered the game shooting just 60% from the line for the season.
More Than One Man
Iowa beat Northwestern following an overtime road loss at Minnesota despite an off night by center Luka Garza. Well, at least by his lofty standards.
Garza scored just 18 points, ending his streak of 18-straight games in which he had at least 20 against Big Ten opponents. Garza still leads the nation with a 27.7 scoring average and is also pulling down 9.6 rebounds a game.
Garza with the relentless pursuit for a bucket. @IowaHoops x @LukaG_55 pic.twitter.com/vlo77ohMjY
— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) December 26, 2020
Senior guard Jordan Bohannon snapped out of his scoring slump to lead Iowa with 24 points. He went 7-for-11 on field goal attempts, including 6-for-9 on 3-pointers.
Bohannon made seven 3s in a win over North Carolina on Dec. 8, then just had seven in total in the next five games. After undergoing surgery on both hips last season, Bohannon is averaging just 8.6 points a game in 2020-21 is still getting back into rhythm.
Bohannon got high praise from Garza.
“He’s the best shooter I’ve ever played with.”@LukaG_55 on @JordanBo_3 pic.twitter.com/0cVHnaOq0d
— The Standpoint (@TheStandPoint_) December 30, 2020
In addition to the scoring, Bohannon also contributed five assists and five rebounds against Northwestern.
Sophomore guard CJ Fredrick scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half when Iowa built a 45-36 lead. He has an 11.3 scoring average.
Steady junior wing Joe Wieskamp is scoring 15.2 points and grabbing 6.7 rebounds a game.
Rutgers Tough at RAC
Iowa beat Rutgers 85-80 at home in the teams’ only game last season, though the Scarlet Knights just got under the 5.5 number.
Garza led the way for Iowa, as usual, with 28 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots. Wieskamp added 18 points. Harper had a game-high 29 points and nine boards for Rutgers.
Iowa has won three of four games as the RAC since Rutgers joined the Big Ten. However, the Scarlet Knights have won 24 of their last 25 games at the “Trapezoid of Terror.”
The RAC doesn’t rock as much without a full house in the stands though, and Rutgers will have a hard time dealing with Iowa if Harper can’t play.
Pick: Iowa -2.5 (-110)
John Perrotto has been covering and writing about sports for various outlets for over 40 years. His work has appeared in the likes of USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com, Forbes.com, The Associated Press, Baseball Digest, and more. John is based out of Beaver Falls, PA.