Iowa center Luka Garza approached the second half Saturday with a different mindset. His early points changed everything. Hear him explain: Mark Emmert, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Iowa men's basketball team is pushing back up on its rankings seesaw.
A pair of Big Ten Conference wins sent the Hawkeyes back into The Associated Press' top 25 at No. 23 on Monday, following a one-week absence from the poll.
Iowa (14-3, 3-3 Big Ten) moved up one spot to 24th in the USA TODAY Coaches' Poll. The Hawkeyes' previous ranking of 25th had been the low point since they first entered this season's poll on Nov. 19.
Hawk Central uses the coaches' poll designation as Iowa's default ranking.
Fran McCaffery's squad had been holding steady in the low-20s in both polls for the better part of a month as it weaved its way through its trio of gimme games following wins over in-state rivals Iowa State and Northern Iowa.
An 86-70 blowout loss at Purdue on Jan. 3 dropped the Hawkeyes to 0-3 in league play at the time and briefly dominated the narrative of an otherwise successful start.
Iowa is on a three-game win streak since, however, including home wins over two teams that were ranked at the time (Nebraska on Jan. 6 and Ohio State this past Saturday).
- MARK EMMERT:Hawkeyes use defense to push past Buckeyes
- CHAD LEISTIKOW: Offseason muscle has added in-season grit for Iowa
The Hawkeyes have quietly won eight of nine games entering this week's slate against the Big Ten's two bottom-feeders: a road test at 6 p.m. Wednesday against Penn State (7-10, 0-6) and a home game at noon Sunday against Illinois (4-12, 0-5).