Game Report: Hawkeyes Keep It Rolling at Home Against Ohio State
IOWA CITY, Iowa – For much of the season, Iowa has ridden the offense of dynamic duo Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp. That pair received plenty of support from its super friends Thursday night. As you would expect, it proved beneficial.
The No. 20 Hawkeyes received 24 bench points during an 85-76 victory against 25th-ranked Ohio State here at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. That might not seem like a lot, but if you’ve followed Iowa, you know differently. It used only two reserves in this game.
Backup guard Bakari Evelyn matched a career-high with 15 points and added three assists with one turnover. Cordell Pemsl checked in with nine points, eight rebounds, three assists and just one turnover.
“Those two were spectacular,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “Cordell and Bakari were phenomenal. No way we win without them.”
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Said Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann: “I thought they played well, stepped up and made shots. Guys that really hadn’t done that a whole lot stepped up and made shots.”
Make no mistake, Garza was visible. He scored a game-high 24 points, grabbed six rebounds and handed out four assists. Wieskamp added 13 points, four rebounds, an assist and a steal. He and Garza continued drawing a host of defenders, opening up things for others who made Ohio State pay.
Senior Ryan Kriener started his second game in a row for the injured CJ Fredrick, who McCaffery said was fairly close to returning Thursday. Kriener scored 12 points, grabbed four boards and blocked a shot. He helped hold high-scoring Kaleb Wesson to 10 points before the Ohio State center fouled out.
Starting point guard Joe Toussaint contributed nine points and three assists in the victory, knocking down both of his three-point attempts.
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Steady Connor McCaffery, a Swiss Army knife on a basketball court, hit a clutch early three-pointer, dished out four assists with just one turnover and added a pair of steals in the winning effort.
In reality, Iowa has received important contributions from players not named Garza and Wieskamp throughout the season. That’s how it has compiled a 19-8 overall record and a 10-6 mark in the Big Ten. Thursday night’s input stood out because the group scored, which is easy for even a novice of the game to see.
“That’s the kind of team we have and that’s how we have to play. We can’t just put it all on Garza and Wieskamp. And that’s not the team we have. We wouldn’t be sitting here with 19 wins if that was the case,” Fran McCaffery said.
Evelyn sank three of five three-point attempts. He looked confident shooting them.
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Pemsl has regained the explosiveness he showed as a freshman. He said he’s had it all season but he lacked some confidence until recent weeks.
Iowa came out ready to play from Thursday’s opening tip. It raced out to an 18-3 lead and led by as many as 19 points in the first half. The Buckeyes (17-9, 7-8) put together a few runs throughout the rest of the game, but could get no closer than eight.
“Anytime you are playing a quality team like that, it starts with your defense; really a result of our defensive intensity and execution. Execution is critical on defense, too, not just offense,” Fran McCaffery said of his team’s fast start.
The Hawkeyes shot 55.8 percent from the floor, including 10 of 25 from behind the arc. Ohio State finished 41.9 percent from field goals.
- Iowa has won nine of its last 12 games, dating back to Jan. 10.
- Thursday’s win was Iowa’s sixth over a nationally-ranked opponent, its most in a single-season since ’06 (8).
- Iowa improved to 10-6 in conference play; the Hawkeyes have won 10 or more Big Ten games five of the last six seasons.
- Iowa and Ohio State have played 162 games all-time, the series is now tied, 81-81.
- Garza surpassed five former players on Iowa’s single-season scoring chart for fifth place (Jarrod Uthoff, Sam Williams, Peter Jok, Adam Haluska, Greg Stokes).
- Garza surpassed the 20-point plateau for the 12th consecutive game, the longest streak by a Hawkeye in 49 years and longest streak by a Big Ten player in over 20 seasons.
- Iowa is 13-1 at home this season, winning its last 12 contests inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
- The Hawkeyes netted 85 points tonight against the Big Ten’s leader in scoring defense (61.4 ppg).
- Iowa improved to 4-1 is one-plays this season, recording wins over Ohio State, Northwestern, Rutgers, and Wisconsin.