IOWA CITY — Wednesday was a night for building confidence, sustaining momentum, and getting playing time for walk-ons at the end of the bench.
After playing like money in New York last week with wins over Oregon and Connecticut, the Hawkeyes were in a money game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Wednesday night. “Money games” are what teams in lower-prestige Division I leagues like the Southwestern Athletic Conference play in November and December, near-certain defeats on the road against bigger programs for guaranteed paychecks to help subsidize their athletic departments.
The SWAC’s Alabama State played the first of seven straight games away from home with its 105-78 loss to Iowa. Hawkeyes Coach Fran McCaffery pulled his starters with an 83-50 lead and 14:17 left after the game had turned into a glorified layup drill.
Iowa jumped to a 12-0 lead, and that was the name of that tune before a crowd of 12,939 fans that seemed happy to be here from before the pregame introductions until they headed back to their cars.
The vibe was definitely different here than in many home games of recent vintage. Iowa is 5-0, and is playing well.
“We just want to play with a chip on our shoulder,” said junior guard Isaiah Moss. “Don’t want to go down the same road as last year.”
Moss shed a slow personal offensive start with a 15-point game. He hadn’t scored more than eight points in a game, and had a total of six in Iowa’s first two home contests. After beginning the season 5-of-20 from the field, he went 6-of-9 Wednesday and popped in three of his four 3-point tries.
“I wanted him to be aggressive,” McCaffery said. “I always want him to be aggressive. He’s got a beautiful stroke. He’s got a greenlight to shoot the ball.”
Also out of an offensive doldrum was freshman guard Joe Wieskamp, who opened the season with 25 points over his first two collegiate games. He had a total of just five points in the two games in New York.
But this night, Wieskamp scored from inside and outside to notch 16 points in the first 9:27. He played 20 minutes and scored 20 points, second only to teammate Luka Garza’s 22.
“If he plays with the confidence like he did tonight,” Garza said, “no one can guard him.”
“Right after we got back (from New York) I was in the gym working,” said Wieskamp. “It bothered me a bit to struggle, but I thought I did a lot of good things defensively to help our team win. But I know what I’m capable of offensively, so I just got back in the gym.”
The Hawkeyes are off until Tuesday when they host Pittsburgh in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Pitt, 8-24 last year and 0-18 in the ACC, is 6-0.
Then comes Wisconsin here, a trip to Michigan State, and Iowa State here on Dec. 6.
“We’ve got four monsters coming up,” McCaffery said, “but I don’t look at it that way. I look at it as being one monster coming up, and worry about the ones after that after that.”
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