A week ago, Iowa basketball’s sky seemed to be falling thanks to a pair of losses and an injury to CJ Fredrick.
Now, two games removed from that stretch, and that pessimism is all but a distant memory.
What a week for the Hawkeyes.
Stock up: Defense
Before Iowa’s win over No. 12 Maryland this season, the Hawkeyes’ season-high for field-goal defense came against San Diego State, when the Aztecs shot 40.4 percent from the floor.
The Hawkeyes held the Terrapins to just 49 points on 37.7 percent shooting. It was the best scoring defense from Iowa so far this season (even Kennesaw State scored more than 50 points on Iowa).
Iowa followed its lock-down outing with another in its 75-62 win over Northwestern on Tuesday. The Wildcats made just 36 percent of their shots, the best shooting defense from the Hawkeyes this season.
All in all, Iowa allowed just 111 points in its last two games, the best two-game stretch so far this season.
Stock up: Luka Garza
Back-to-back scoring outputs of more than 20 points seem like nothing to Luka Garza.
Garza dropped 27 points against Northwestern, just days removed from a 21-point outing against Maryland. Iowa is 11-2 this season when the big man scores 17 or more points.
Garza’s rebounding numbers dipped against Northwestern. After grabbing 13 boards against Maryland, he had just three on Tuesday, which was a rocky rebounding night for Iowa in general.
In that two-game span, Garza knocked down three of his seven shots from downtown, bringing his season average to 35.6 percent. That’s a better 3-point percentage than Connor McCaffery, Joe Toussaint, and Bakari Evelyn.
Stock down: Joe Toussaint
Joe Toussaint was playing at a career pace last week. He earned the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Week award, averaging 16 points in Iowa’s losses to Penn State and Nebraska.
But in the two games since, he’s cooled off.
Here are his numbers over that span:
- Northwestern: 0 points (0-5 shooting), one assist
- Maryland: 4 points (1-for-4), 5 assists, 5 turnovers
When at his best, Toussaint is exactly what Iowa’s offense needs: An aggressive point guard who can take the ball to the hoop and find teammates for open looks. He’s a streaky shooter, and that’s been the case as of late, making just one of his nine attempts.
Toussaint has gone scoreless in two of his last six games.
Iowa doesn’t necessarily need Toussaint to score 10+ points per game to win. In fact, the Hawkeyes won both games which Toussaint went scoreless. Food for thought.
Stock up: Ryan Kriener
Ryan Kriener quietly put together an excellent two-game stretch.
When Iowa opted to go big during Fredrick’s absence against Maryland, Fran McCaffery gave Kriener the starting nod. He finished with seven points, six rebounds, and a block. Kriener didn’t miss a shot, giving him his fourth (!!) game of the season with a perfect field-goal percentage.
Then, against Northwestern, he scored 10 points, grabbed five rebounds, and blocked another shot.
17 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 blocks in two games for Kriener is impressive. Oh, and he made six of his seven attempts from the field.
This season, Kriener leads all Hawkeyes (with legitimate minutes) in field-goal percentage, netting 60.8 percent of his shots. He’s leading Garza by a little more than six percent, and that’s saying something.
Stock up: Joe Wieskamp
Joe Wieskamp had himself a day against Maryland, producing 26 points. 11 rebounds, and four steals, all of which are season-highs.
Joe Wieskamp knocks down his fourth 3-point shot. pic.twitter.com/Ag8V6YOY9B— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) January 11, 2020
While his scoring against Northwestern (11 points) dipped, one stat that jumps out to me is his free-throw shooting. Wieskamp made all seven of his attempts from the stripe. It was just the second time this season he’s attempted more than four free throws.
I’d love it if Wieskamp was more aggressive offensively. It’s mind-blowing to me that he’s had four games this season without a free-throw attempt. That shouldn’t happen.