Iowa Men's Basketball

Iowa men's basketball wins a 3-for-all vs. Illinois

Hawkeyes sink 15 of 21 3-pointers for fifth-straight victory, 95-71

On Sunday, Carver-Hawkeye Arena was like one of those chicken wing joints with sauces for the bravest.

First, the Iowa men’s basketball team was hot. Then, it was blazing. Finally, it was full-bore nuclear.

The No. 24 Hawkeyes shot an arena-record 68 percent from the field (34-of-50) in their 95-71 rout of Illinois. They made 15 of 21 3-pointers for 71.4 percent. They had a second-half stretch in which they made 3-pointers on five consecutive possessions.

Junior guard Isaiah Moss made his first five 3s, then missed his sixth and final try. As stellar as that was, it was topped by freshman Joe Wieskamp. He was 6-of-6 from 3-point range, 8-of-8 from the field, and 2-of-2 from the foul line to tie his career-high 24 points.

“That was pretty good,” understated Moss, who a season-high 21 points himself.

“Coach (Fran McCaffery) made a joke after the game that he wants to see that every game. He doesn’t want him to miss a shot, ever.”

Maybe McCaffery wasn’t joking.

Moss’ 5-of-6 from 3-point distance was actually slippage. He was perfect in four tries at Penn State last Wednesday.

“Isaiah’s one of my best friends on the team,” Wieskamp said. “When I hit my first three, I told him ‘Now it’s your turn.’ Clearly, he was able to do that, too.”

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Iowa got its fifth-straight win to get to 5-3 in the Big Ten, 16-3 overall. Basketball is quite a game when you can shoot like the Hawkeyes did Sunday.

“The only way you can explain it is to empower your guys to have the confidence to shoot it without hesitation,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “That’s one of the things I pride myself in.”

Moss was on the bench for a stretch of almost 10 minutes in the first half, not having scored in the first five-plus minutes he did play. Did he sulk? Did he lose confidence? Au contraire.

After his return to the game, Moss made a short jumper with two minutes left in the half, then drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to up the Hawkeyes’ lead to 39-24. In the second half he went from hot to blazing to nuclear.

Firing in jumpers after sitting for so long is “hard to do,” said McCaffery. But, “it’s not hard to do for him. He’s got a pretty confident mind-set as relates to his offensive skills.”

Before the game, Illinois Coach Brad Underwood said he came out to watch pregame warmups for one reason: To watch Wieskamp.

“I’m fascinated with guys who can make baskets,” Underwood said. “I sat out there and watched him at the free throw line, (shooting) jump shots. He hit about 19 in a row and I don’t think one of them hit the rim. I said ‘I’m going to make myself sick,’ so I went back in the locker room.”

“I’m not sure that’s true or not,” Wieskamp said about the alleged 19 straight jumpers.

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He certainly saved something for the game. He hit three 3-pointers in the first eight minutes to help stake the Hawkeyes to an 18-6 lead, then kept making shots.

“The thing about him,” McCaffery said, “is he’s never going to take a bad shot. And he’s a really good shooter, so he’s got a good percentage to make it every time. He doesn’t hunt shots, he doesn’t overthink it. He has an incredibly mature approach.”

Had Wieskamp or Moss ever been part of a similar shooting exhibition by a team?

“Not like that, to be honest,” said Moss.”

“I’m not sure I have before or not,” Wieskamp said. “It’s a great feeling.”

A reasonable facsimile wouldn’t hurt the Hawkeyes Thursday night when they host Big Ten leader Michigan State.

l Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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