116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time in 15 years, Iowa has reached the semifinals of the Big Ten men's basketball tournament.
The No. 5 Hawkeyes (21-7) beat Wisconsin 62-57 in a Friday night quarterfinal at Lucas Oil Stadium, setting up a semifinal with No. 3 Illinois Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (CBS) in college basketball's Game of the Day based on rankings and rivalry.
The Illini ripped Rutgers earlier Friday evening, 90-68. Some Illinois fans stayed for the nightcap to boo the Hawkeyes when they were introduced before their Friday game and heckle them during it.
Playing before some of their own fans other than family members for the first time this season, the Hawkeyes happily waved to them on their way back to the dressing room after the game. Iowa beat Wisconsin (17-12) for the third time this season.
'To see people yelling your name and cheering for you,' Iowa senior guard Jordan Bohannon said, 'it was surreal. It almost a dream.'
This game was almost a nightmare for the Hawkeyes, but they wouldn't let it become reality thanks to defense and ball protection after trailing 32-26 at halftime.
Get these numbers: Iowa had zero turnovers in the second half. It blocked a season-high 10 shots. It surrendered only one field goal in the last 9:20.
With the Hawkeyes up 58-54, Wisconsin guard D'Mitrik Trice drove to the basket and had his shot blocked out of bounds by Joe Wieskamp with 19 seconds left. Wieskamp, who seldom shows much emotion, had a face filled with it after his swat.
Revved up, Iowa didn't allow the Badgers to in-bound the ball. The 5-second violation was the dagger.
'You've got to give a lot of credit to our defense,' Bohannon said. 'We've really locked down this past month or so.'
Luka Garza scored 12 of his game-high 24 points in the first 9:12 as the Hawkeyes opened an 18-11 lead, but then the offense froze up. The Badgers, who had made just five of their first 21 shots, peeled off eight straight points starting with a pair of 3-pointers from Iowa's old nemesis, senior guard Brad Davison.
Iowa's only points in the final six minutes of the half was Garza scoring off a rebound with 3:39 remaining to give him 18 of his team's 26 first-half points.
The Hawkeyes came in leading the Big Ten in 3-pointers made per game (10.1) and 3-point percentage (.396), but were 0-of-10 from deep in the first half with all five starters going 0-for-2. They finished a season-worst 2-of-20, but survived it.
There were several lead changes in the second half. Trice scored 12 straight points for Wisconsin on five jump shots midway through the half, but Iowa continually had answers for them. Then the baskets stop coming for the Badgers.
Wieskamp made two straight baskets in the low post for a 56-52 Iowa lead with 2:35 remaining. He played 35 minutes five days after spraining an ankle in a 77-72 home win against the Badgers, notching 10 points and seven rebounds.
'I felt pretty good,' Wieskamp said. 'I was living in the training room, icing it non-stop. ... It would take a lot to hold me out of this.'
'I was really impressed by him,' Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. 'I felt good about him yesterday. We practiced, he looked really good.
'I was really concerned as to whether or not I wanted to play him at all. But he was cleared to play, he wanted to play, and I was prepared to pull him if I didn't think he looked right.
'He was out there competing, having fun. We'll see how he is tomorrow, but he said he felt great.'
The turnaround is short, and Saturday's opponent is strong.
'Get iced, rest, feed them, feed them tomorrow, get up early to COVID test,' McCaffery said. 'It's one of those years, you just deal with whatever comes your way. We've got a resilient group and we'll have them ready.'
Bohannon opened his team's postgame Zoom conference with reporters by asking to make a comment before taking questions. Referring to controversies this week involving Wisconsin Coach Greg Gard for criticizing officials and Michigan Coach Juwan Howard for an on-court incident here Friday afternoon, Bohannon more or less said they get better treatment from the outside world than his coach.
'Coach McCaffery has been treated very unfairly throughout the entire country on how he's been perceived. He gets a 'T' and he gets portrayed as a bad person. Everyone that knows him personally knows that's not the case.
'I love Coach McCaffery. ... He's the most human, decent person.'