Iowa Men's Basketball

An Iowa basketball masterpiece, out-shooting and out-everything-ing Michigan State

Iowa does everything well in 88-58 rout over Spartans

Iowa guard Connor McCaffery flexes his muscle in the second half of the Hawkeyes' 88-58 men's basketball win at Michigan
Iowa guard Connor McCaffery flexes his muscle in the second half of the Hawkeyes’ 88-58 men’s basketball win at Michigan State Saturday at Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich. (Paul Sancya/Associated Press)

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Iowa has a 6-foot-11 All-America men’s basketball center, the nation’s leading scorer. He is Luka Garza.

A 6-11 Hawkeye player had 18 points, 11 rebounds and six assists Saturday at Michigan State. He was Jack Nunge.

Iowa has two players who have made 50-plus 3-pointers this season. They are Jordan Bohannon and Joe Wieskamp.

A Hawkeye who hit just 12 treys in 20 games coming into Breslin Center swished a career-high four of them in six tries Saturday. He is Connor McCaffery.

That was the kind of day it was in No. 15 Iowa’s 88-58 annihilation of the Spartans, the worst loss for an MSU team in Tom Izzo’s 26 seasons as the head coach here. It wasn’t that Garza and Bohannon and Wieskamp weren’t good, too. They were.

But McCaffery? “Connor was terrific tonight,” Wieskamp said.

And Nunge? “He was absolutely terrific tonight,” said Wieskamp.

How about Wieskamp? “He’s playing phenomenal,” Nunge said. “Everybody across the board played well.”

That they did. Iowa (15-6, 9-5 Big Ten) had a 13-0 first-half run, and that was after it had built a 20-13 lead. The Hawkeyes made 8 of 13 3-pointers in opening a 46-27 halftime advantage. Then the Hawkeyes had a 14-0 run in the second half. All Izzo could do was stand with his arms folded or sit in resignation.

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This was something the Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer’s teams had done to the Hawkeyes many times here over the last quarter-century. Wieskamp was on the wrong side of the scoreboard in two previous trips, and was 7-of-26 shooting with a mere 5.5 points per game in four previous games against the Spartans.

Saturday, the junior made 5 of 7 treys and had a game-high 21 points. He is averaging 20.5 points over the last four games and has hit 31 of 51 3s over his last nine outings.

The Hawkeyes were 13-of-25 from deep. McCaffery was 4-of-6 and had a season-high 16 points.

“The first time we played them (an 84-78 Iowa win on Feb. 2 in Iowa City), I sucked,” he said. “I let them get away with sagging off me. I was terrible in every way.”

Saturday, he converted back-to-back first-half passes from Garza for a layup and 3-pointer as Iowa began sprinting past the Spartans.

“Flipping the script like that, I’m sure that wasn’t in their scouting report,” McCaffery said. “‘Worry about Luka dropping dimes to Connor.’ I’m sure it was the other way around.”

Garza had eight points, his lowest output since late in the 2018-19 season. Starting guard CJ Fredrick didn’t play at all, as his saga with a leg injury continues. No Fredrick and an eight-point Garza, and Iowa beats Michigan State (10-8, 4-8) by 30 in East Lansing. That isn’t flipping a script, that’s standing it on its ear.

“What really impressed me was how happy Luka was in the locker room for his teammates, for a victory,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “That just says all you need to know about our leader.”

Iowa out-shot Michigan State 49 percent to 35. It out-rebounded the normally rebound-demanding Spartans, 46-37. You name it, if it mattered then the Hawkeyes were better at it.

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Nunge came off the bench and played like a first-team All-Big Ten guy. His 18 points tied a season-high. His 11 rebounds and six assists were career-bests. He did that in just 26 minutes.

“He got buckets when we needed them,” Fran McCaffery said. “He finished through contact. He contested around the rim. He didn’t give second-shots.

“What a performance.”

Nunge did it all. The Hawkeyes did it all. To an Izzo team at Breslin Center.

“Everybody slumps a little bit when you’re getting your butts kicked,” Izzo said.

Comments: (319) 398-8440; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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