The Breakdown: Hawkeyes Respond in Impressive Win Against Iowa State

December 6, 2018

Written by Rob Howe

Fran McCaffery Postgame Press Conference

Iowa Players Postgame Press Conference

Iowa State Postgame Press Conference

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Box Score

IOWA CITY, Iowa – In Monday night’s blowout loss at Michigan State, Iowa reverted back some bad habits that contributed greatly to last year’s 14-19 record. It created doubt about whether this team had improved much from the disastrous campaign.

The Hawkeyes answered that wonderment on Thursday night here at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. They ended a two-game losing streak with an impressive 98-84 victory against rival Iowa State.

It represented a big win for Iowa. It stopped the skid, restored confidence, built its postseason resume and sent it into a nine-day break for finals on a high note.

Losing 92-68 in East Lansing probably would have crippled last year’s team. This outfit showed it’s got some fight.

Thursday’s game featured some chippiness where players and coaches needed to be separated. It ended that way with Iowa coach Fran McCaffery pulling his team off the court without shaking hands. He did that against North Dakota two years ago.

Asked to compare the two, the coach wasn’t having it.

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“Whoa, whoa. Whoa, whoa. Alright, let’s not go there. No, no, no, no. That was the smart thing to do, smart thing to do,” he said.

Cyclone coach Steve Prohm said that when he and Iowa forward Tyler Cook were trying to break up a skirmish at the end of the game, one of the Iowa assistants yelled at him to get his hands off of Cook. He smoothed things over with Kirk Speraw, another Hawkeye assistant.

“I was like I’m trying to do the right thing here,” he said.

In the end, while there were a few dustups, it couldn’t take away from a great environment and a good game. And nothing got out of hand.

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“It was a spirited game from the beginning, and that’s what you expect. I have tremendous respect for Steve Prohm, really do. They’ve got a really good team. They’re going to win a lot of games. They’ve been terrific so far this season. I wish it didn’t happen, but it’s just competition, and we’ll move on,” McCaffery said.

Cook played one of the best games of his Iowa career. The junior from St. Louis finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds, shooting 12 of 16 from the floor. His effort was complemented by strong contests from Isaiah Moss (20 points, seven rebounds, 4-5 on threes), Nicholas Baer (14 points, seven rebounds, 4-5 on threes) and Connor McCaffery (12 points, five assists, 8-8 free throws).

While those guys were the standouts, the 18th-ranked Hawkeyes (7-2) received contributions up and down the roster. Freshman Joe Wieskamp shook off a sprained ankle suffered at Michigan State to play 22 minutes of solid defense, while scoring seven points and adding two assists.

“I didn’t think he’d be able to do what he did. I’m really proud of him. We got good news with the X-rays, so he could play as he was able to tolerate the pain, so at shoot-around he did some stuff and still wasn’t a go. Came back and did some defensive stuff before the game. He said, I can go, I want to go. I said, all right, let’s go,” McCaffery said.

Cordell Pemsl’s profile wasn’t included in the pregame media notes. It was announced earlier this season that he would sit out the rest of the campaign with a knee injury. Apparently the junior from Dubuque wasn’t ready to stay on the sideline.

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Pemsl played 15:32 Thursday, his first action since the season opener. He scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds.

The Hawkeyes built a 20-point lead with a strong start to the second half. Iowa State then chipped away at its deficit, cutting it to eight with 6:05 left in regulation.

Iowa responded with an 8-0 run led by Connor McCaffery’s four points.

Prohm felt Moss was the difference maker for the Hawkeyes. He came into the game averaging 7.0 points.

Iowa did a nice job slowing down the Cyclones’ potent transition game. The Hawkeyes hustled back on defense and won the rebounding battle, 44-24.

They also recorded a season-high 21 assists. Their bench outscored the visitors, 34-14.

Iowa State was the Hawkeyes’ final non-conference game against a Power 5 school. They finished 4-2 in the Power 5 contests they played before Jan. 2, when they head back into Big Ten play at Purdue.

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