Game Report: Motivated Iowa Overwhelms Visiting Huskers Behind Wieskamp
IOWA CITY, Iowa – It took awhile, but eventually No. 17 Iowa accomplished what it set out to do against an overmatched Nebraska team Saturday here at a sold out Carver-Hawkeye Arena. And Joe Wieskamp ignited the blowout.
The sophomore guard hit a couple of key baskets to pull the Hawkeyes out of a rut in the first half in the 96-72 victory. He started the second half strong en route scoring a career-high 30 points, shooting 10 of 15 from the floor, including 2 of 4 on three-pointers, and knocking down all eight of his free throw attempts in 28 minutes.
Wieskamp struggled like the rest of his team during a 76-70 loss in Lincoln on Jan. 7. Iowa shot 4 of 33 on treys that night with the Muscatine native missing nine of 10 three-point tries. The Hawkeyes splashed in 11 of 28 from deep Saturday.
“He scores on drives, he scores on put-backs, he scores in transition, he scores off screens, he scores on out-of-bounds plays, and that has a tremendous impact on a team’s ability to compete,” coach Fran McCaffery said of Wieskamp.
“When you’re in a game where you go eight minutes without scoring and Nebraska is pressing up and causing turnovers and making layups, those are the kinds of things we need him to do. And he does them.”
National Player of the Year candidate Luka Garza supported the winning effort with 22 points and a team-best eight rebounds. Wieskamp and Ryan Kriener each grabbed seven boards. Connor McCaffery paced the winners with four assists.
Iowa (17-7 overall, 8-5 Big Ten) bounced back against the Huskers and also from Wednesday night’s embarrassing 104-68 loss at Purdue. It looked highly motivated.
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“We had the mindset after Purdue that we wanted to come and do what Purdue did to us to Nebraska,” Hawkeye freshman C.J. Fredrick said. “It was more of a statement for us as a team that we were going to bounce back.”
Nebraska (7-16, 2-10) lost for the eighth time in a row. Its last victory came against the Hawkeyes.
“Give Iowa credit. They were phenomenal,” Husker coach Fred Hoiberg said. “Wieskamp was incredible. We did not do a good job of closing to him, he got around us, got confident and those threes started dropping.”
The home team overcame an eight-minute scoring drought in the first half. Wieskamp’s layup with 12:31 remaining put his team up 25-9. The Huskers then scored the game’s next 12 points before Saturday’s star took charge.
Wieskamp converted a lay-in with 4:30 on the clock and then a pull-up jumper. He added a pair of free throws as Iowa ended the half on a 16-9 run that put it ahead 41-30 at halftime.
The Hawkeyes came out of the locker room with that momentum. Wieskamp got it going with a dunk and hit three free throws after being fouled on a trey try. They were up 50-34 with 16:44 to play and never looked back, leading by as many as 38 points.
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“I looked up and was like wow, (Wieskamp) has 24. I didn’t even know,” Connor McCaffery said. “It was kind of like a quiet 30-piece. It’s really impressive.
“I said the other day I don’t think he’s going to go 1 for 10 (on threes). I was right. I’m a genius.”
Garza told Wieskamp he needed to hit the 30-point mark as he was closing in on it. His previous high was 26 against Maryland on Jan. 10 and he had netted 20 or more five times this season before Saturday.
“It felt good,” Wieskamp said. “I was a 30-point scorer my junior and senior year of high school but wasn’t able to get that yet in my college career. I’m excited to finally get there, but there’s much more left. And guys like Luka and everyone else were just doing a good job of finding me and continued to encourage me to keep shooting.”
Garza, who took two fewer shots than his sidekick Saturday, was more than willing to defer.
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“I’m really happy for my guy. He played really well,” Garza said. “When you have a guy like that who can score at all three levels, who pushes the ball in transition, who runs the court and also defends…He’s one of the best players in the country for a reason. He’s been really good throughout the entire year not just tonight.”
-Iowa’s 96 points scored today are the most points scored by the Hawkeyes this season and the most against Nebraska in the 34-game series history.
-The 24-point victory is Iowa’s third largest margin of victory over Nebraska in the 34-game series.
-Iowa improved to 12-1 at home, winning its last 11 consecutive games inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The nationally-ranked Hawkeyes have won seven of its last nine contests.
-Iowa has beaten Nebraska 12 of the last 13 times in Iowa City.
-Garza has now tallied 20+ in nine straight Big Ten games, the longest streak by a Hawkeye in 49 years. The All-American candidate has netted 20 points or more 18 times this season. Garza’s point total from today moved him past Bruce King and Ed Horton for 17th on Iowa’s all-time scoring chart.
-Wieskamp netted 20 of his career-high 30 points in the second half, reaching 20+ points for the fifth time this season.
-Carver-Hawkeye Arena was filled to capacity today for the second straight game (15,056).