I’m at a total loss for words after seeing Joe Wieskamp knock down one of the most improbable shots I’ve ever seen to lift the #21/17 Iowa Hawkeyes (20-5, 9-5) over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (12-13, 4-10), 71-69.
Maybe it’s best to rewind this one to 5:28 left in the second half, when a Joe Wieskamp layup was the second to last field goal Iowa made to take the lead at 61-59. From there, Iowa could only muster seven free throws on eight attempts. When Jordan Bohannon split his final pair to give Iowa a 68-66 lead with 26 seconds left, it felt like something weird was about to happen.
And it did. Six days after Iowa hit a three to leapfrog Northwestern, Geo Baker hit a contested three on a gut-wrenching bounce with 3 seconds left. Fran dialed up a play after a timeout and, well...
It was low key executed how it was drawn up. With Jordan Bohannon garnering a double-team, it gave Connor McCaffery free reign to get his baseball season underway. Nicholas Baer deflects it cleanly and while it didn’t go to Isaiah Moss like it appeared to be intended, Wieskamp caught it on the bounce, kept both feet in bounds, and hit a bank shot corner three for the win.
Like so many of Iowa’s wins this season, it’s one that doesn't happen last year. Iowa got it started incredibly slowly and gave up five quick points. The yielded seven turnovers in the first eight minutes but Rutgers was never able to build a lead of more than six behind unexpected shooting from Ron Harper, Jr. (4/5 from three for 14 first half points).
Thankfully Isaiah Moss came to play as he had 12 in the first half to keep a Iowa afloat in a murky offense. Baer traded three pointers with Harper in the first half, which also gave the Hawks a much needed boost, offensively.
They finished the half 13/30 from the field and just 3/12 from deep. Yet it felt like if Iowa was able to clean their offense up from the 10 turnovers they had, there’d be a chance to put some distance between them and Rutgers in the second half.
Rutgers led throughout much of the first 8 minutes in the half through sheer force of will. They clawed on every possession through a press Iowa employed. Yet the tide seemed to turn after Jordan Bohannon scored two baskets within 20 second on a jumper in the lane and then a contested layup off a steal. The momentum was on the Hawkeyes side even though they were tied 49-49.
But they could never pull away. The game became borderline unwatchable as the refs incessantly reviewed pretty easy calls and the Rutgers defense amped up to West Virginia levels of hand-checking.
Yet Iowa found a way to get the lead through gritty defense and, yeah, those free throws mentioned above. During the span when Iowa went 7/8, Rutgers went a paltry 3/6 to allow Iowa to have the last-minute lead before the Baker three.
And then, well:
As the Hawkeyes continue to “Just win, baby!” there will always remain questions. Isaiah Moss (who finished with 17 points) was largely off the floor as Iowa looked to force feed Bohannon off the ball. The defense took awhile to take hold. The rebounding felt like it was a lost cause at times.
But, Iowa got through a game barely resembling basketball at a fairly raucous environment, with Joe Wieskamp holding up the collective heart of the RAC “Temple of Doom” style.
When plays like these are made and shots like these go in, you just have to wonder if maybe, just maybe, this team is set up for something more.
- Tyler Cook once again had a quietly great floor game. After an early turnover in transition, he really settled in and played a clean game of 12 points (4/5 on free throws!), four assists, and seven boards. He was active in the zone and added a block (Iowa had 5!) and steal.
- Iowa only had 5 turnovers after the break but at the low pace (65 possessions per KenPom), the 15 accounted for 23.1% of their possessions. There was very little margin for error in this one and between the turnovers and rebounding - sneaky close even though it didn’t feel that way - the Hawks just scraped by.
- It was a rough day for Iowa’s bench as only two McCaffery free throws were added to Baer’s threes for 8 points off the bench.
- Luka Garza wasn’t mentioned but he played a kinda quiet 31 minutes to match up with the Rutgers frontline. He had 7 points on 10 shots but his rim protection seemed like a step up from past games. I imagine part of it was the refs calling a little bit of a looser game.
- I’ll admit a very small part of me feels for Rutgers, especially Geo Baker. He played an impressive 35 minutes, mainly on the defensive end with five steals, six assists, 13 points, and of course one of the bigger shots of his life. Fortunately for us, it was erased.
Iowa’s next game is at home against Maryland on Tuesday, February 19th.