Iowa basketball’s pursuit of the Big Ten’s No. 1 spot continued on Monday with a 68-62 win against Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes have now won their last five games, pushing them to 6-3 in the conference.
In this week’s stock watch, we take a look at the Wisconsin game. Iowa managed to pull the game out after seemingly slipping away midway through the second half. The win featured more of Luka Garza, a big-time play from Joe Toussaint, and some incredible resiliency.
Stock up: Luka Garza
Another week, another all-around great performance from Luka Garza. The junior scored 21 points and grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds en route to his 12th double-double of the season. Throw in three blocks for fun, too. Iowa is 12-2 when Garza scores 20 points or more this season.
Garza’s six-for-17 shooting was his lowest field-goal percentage in a game this season. It was just his third time shooting less than 40 percent this season.
Some of Garza’s best work game in the rebound department. Garza finished the Wisconsin game with a rebound rate of 22.6 percent — essentially, he rebounded close to a fifth of the missed shots. Offensively, Garza had a rebound rate of 14.7, and on the defensive side, he tallied a rate of 30.9.
Garza got beat up for most of the game. It’s a common theme this season. Garza takes a beating essentially every night. Garza drew an estimated 17.2 fouls against Wisconsin, according to the University of Iowa’s statistics feed. The next closest player was CJ Fredrick with 8.3.
It was another gritty performance for one of the nation’s best players, something you’re beginning to expect each night from Garza.
Stock up: Joe Toussaint
With less than 1:30 remaining against Wisconsin, Joe Toussaint hit arguably the shot of the game. The point guard drove into the lane, spun around with a defender draped over him, and threw up a shot with the shot clock winding down. Toussaint’s bucket fell as he drew the foul. He would make the free throw after.
Iowa (finally) climbed out of the hole with that bucket. It was Iowa’s first lead since the 3:00 mark in the first half.
Toussaint scored 11 points, dished four assists, grabbed two rebounds, and notched one steal. He did turn the ball over once, but it was once again a steady game for the freshman.
Toussaint finished with a +16 — the highest rating of any of the Hawkeyes by far (the next closest was Garza and Joe Wieskamp with +7).
Stock down: 3-point shooting
The game against Wisconsin provided flashbacks from Nebraska.
Iowa made just 15 percent of its 3-point attempts (three-for-20) on Monday. When the Hawkeyes lost to the Huskers on Jan. 7, they shot just 12.1 percent. Iowa’s three 3-pointers tied for the fewest in a game this season.
Just two Hawkeyes made 3-pointers against Wisconsin: CJ Fredrick and Joe Wieskamp. They combined to finish three-for-10 from downtown. The rest of the Hawkeyes? 0-for-10.
Wisconsin’s defense is solid, but outstanding. KenPom ranks the Badgers as having the 25th-best adjusted defense in the country, but in terms of 3-point defense, they rank second-to-last in the Big Ten by allowing 33.2 percent per game.
Stock up: Resiliency
Sticking with missed shots, Iowa still beat Wisconsin after shooting an abysmal 15 percent from 3-point range and 33 percent in total.
The Hawkeyes find ways to win ugly. Iowa has shot worse than 40 percent from the field twice this season (Wisconsin and Maryland), but the Hawkeyes won both games.
Iowa watched an early lead dwindle down until losing it completely with three minutes left in the first half. From there it kept things close, but Wisconsin started to pull away within the first eight minutes of the second half. The Badgers built a 12-point lead after D’Mitrik Trice hit a 3-pointer with just over seven minutes left in the game.
Iowa could have easily caved from there. Shots weren’t falling and it was a frustrating performance up until that point.
Instead, the Hawkeyes went on a 23-5 run to close out the game.
Iowa’s defense clicked, forcing Wisconsin to miss seven of its final nine shots.
Iowa’s last three wins have come by an average of six points, and it’s been able to go shot-for-shot and grind out wins against some of the better teams in the conference.