IOWA CITY – The Iowa men’s basketball team woke up with a big cup of Joe.
Joe Wieskamp gave the 15th-ranked Hawkeyes a good kind of jolt as they defeated No. 25 Rutgers 79-66 Wednesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The junior from Muscatine scored 26 points to help the Hawkeyes tap the brakes on a skid in which they had dropped four of their previous five games.
Wieskamp was a hot 5-of-7 from 3-point distance while the Scarlet Knights were an icy 6-of-28. Wieskamp’s point total was six above his season high and 11 more than his season average, and was a whopping number given the grind much of this game was. His shot selection was almost impeccable, and he had 10 rebounds.
“It was one of those complete performances,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “I played him in different spots. He made shots when we needed them, he rebounded the ball, he defended, no mistakes. He was really special tonight, no question.”
Wieskamp is shooting 47.4 percent (45-of-95), and has made 26 of 44 treys over his last eight games. That’s really special.
“I know that I’m a great shooter and I’m going to continue to shoot it,” Wieskamp said. “Guys are finding me in good positions. Coach is running sets for me to get me the ball.”
For stretches, this game was a grind, a slog, a drive up an ice-covered hilly street without all-wheel drive, whatever you want to call a less-than-beautiful Big Ten game in February.
The Hawkeyes will take it, and did. They did so because Wieskamp and Luka Garza (22 points, 10 rebounds) had double double-doubles, because Jordan Bohannon had 12 points and seven assists, because Keegan Murray scored 10 points and claimed four offensive rebounds, because the team defended.
Iowa never led by less than six points in the second half. Bohannon, Patrick McCaffery and Murray made 3-pointers in the first four minutes after halftime. Garza began putting up points after shooting 2-for-10 in the first half. And Wieskamp scored eight straight Iowa points to give his guys a 66-54 lead with 5:48 left.
Iowa had a 42-31 rebounding edge and scored 21 second-chance points. While the Hawkeyes didn’t have a great overall shooting night, they made 10 of 22 3-pointers.
Thus, No. 15 Iowa improved to 14-6 overall and 8-5 in the Big Ten, and stopped the sky from falling altogether after its 1-4 stretch from Jan. 21 through Sunday. Rutgers is 11-7, 7-7.
Wieskamp had his seventh game of at least 16 points in his last eight starts. He had 15 first-half points in a loss at Indiana Sunday, and was one point better than that in Wednesday’s first half.
“He’s consistent, locked in, and does his thing,” Garza said. “In the first half when I missed some shots I felt I could make, he really picked us up.”
Sophomore guard CJ Fredrick didn’t score, but his presence after missing the last two games with a lower leg injury helped his team noticeably. He had three nice post feeds to Garza for second-half baskets, and contributed to the team’s defensive effort.
“I haven’t really, the past couple of weeks, been able to be myself,” Fredrick said.
“Two days ago, I called my parents after practice and said this is probably one of the best days I’ve had and I just felt like myself again. I kind of had tears in my eyes.”
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Fredrick said he expects to be good to go when the Hawkeyes play next, Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Michigan State.
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