Iowa Men's Basketball

Iowa men's basketball needs to heat up pronto with Iowa State the foe

Hawkeyes have hit an icy patch shooting the last three games

Iowa guard Maishe Dailey (1) defends against Iowa State guard Lindell Wigginton (5) as he goes up for a shot in their men's basketball game at Hilton Coliseum in Ames last Dec. 7. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Iowa guard Maishe Dailey (1) defends against Iowa State guard Lindell Wigginton (5) as he goes up for a shot in their men's basketball game at Hilton Coliseum in Ames last Dec. 7. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Iowa has had one poor defensive game out of eight, but it was the most-recent one and a major dud, so it’s fresh and it stings.

However, the thing the 6-2, 19th-ranked Hawkeyes need to fix more than anything is their offense. If they have a shooting performance Thursday like they’ve had in their last three games, they’ll be hard-pressed to beat Iowa State (7-1) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. As of Wednesday afternoon, 1,600 tickets remained for the 7 p.m. contest.

On the News of the Day front, freshman Hawkeye guard Joe Wieskamp was a definite maybe Wednesday to play Thursday. He sprained an ankle Monday at Michigan State.

“It’s getting better. There isn’t a lot of time between games. Would be better if there was a little more time.

“It’s not broken, so that’s good news.”

But will the Hawkeyes’ offense regroup, with or without 10.5-points-per-game Wieskamp?

The Hawkeyes’ last three games — a 69-68 home win over Pittsburgh, a 72-66 home loss to Wisconsin, and Monday night’s 90-68 drubbing they endured at Michigan State — all featured them shooting poorly.

Iowa shot 36 percent from the floor over those three games, and was 26.1 percent (12-of-46) from 3-point distance in the two losses.

Junior guard Jordan Bohannon has had a lot of responsibility in his career, but he made his bones in the program by making 3s. He entered this season a career 42.3 percent shooters from behind the arc. He ranked third in Big Ten 3-point shooting last season among players who tried at least five 3s per game.

This season, Bohannon has made 13 of 43 3s for 30.2 percent. He’s scoring 10.3 points per game, which would be his career-low if it doesn’t rise.

“I was out 2 1/2 weeks (with a bone bruise, immediately before the season began),” Bohannon said Wednesday. “I probably didn’t have the same rhythm as I had most seasons. I probably wasn’t the most conditioned I could have been. I think I’m starting to get a good rhythm back and little bit.”

He no longer is playing 34 minutes per game at point guard as he did last season. In fact, he’s playing a little less than half the game at the point with the emergence of freshman Connor McCaffery, who is averaging 21 minutes. So he is playing 10 to 12 minutes a game at off-guard.

That’s good for wear-and-tear, but requires a change in how he’s setting up his shots.

“I’m used to taking shots off the dribble more than off the catch,” Bohannon said. “It’s something I’m adjusting to.”

“He had that injury, wasn’t himself,” Fran McCaffery said.

“I think he’s looking for shots that are good shots. I don’t think he’s putting up bad shots. ... I’m not really worried about him. I think he’ll be fine.”

Iowa’s best weapon Thursday may be being home. The Hawkeyes’ first true road game was Monday night, and Iowa didn’t play like the team that speedily climbed to the top 15 of the national polls. This is Iowa State’s first true road game, a first-time college experience for freshmen Talen Horton-Tucker and Tyrese Haliburton, who have combined for 21.9 points and 5.4 assists per game.

On the other hand, senior forward Marial Shayok (19.4 ppg) played in eight NCAA Tournament games at Virginia before transferring to Iowa State, which is eight more than every Hawkeye except Nicholas Baer, who played in two in 2016.

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

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