No. 17 Iowa basketball (17-7) wanted to flush its ugly loss to Purdue, and that’s just what the Hawkeyes did against Nebraska (7-16) on Saturday.
Iowa beat Nebraska 96-72 — a stark contrast from the previous loss in Lincoln. The Hawkeyes shot 48.6 percent from the floor and hit 11 3-pointers. Iowa played 12 guys, and all but one scored.
All in all, it was a pretty solid outing in Iowa City, and a much-needed follow-up performance from the abysmal loss on Feb. 5.
Here are four takeaways from Iowa’s win:
Joe Wieskamp’s second-half performance was better than each of his last five games
Joe Wieskamp scored Iowa’s first seven points of the second half, and the rest of the game followed accordingly.
The sophomore dropped 20 points in the final half, hitting six of his eight shots. Putting this into perspective, Wieskamp hadn’t scored more than 18 points in an entire game over the last five contests.
Talk about a response by Wieskamp. His 30-point performance was an incredible bounce-back effort from the eight-point outing in the loss to Purdue. His 30 points were a career-high, and he also finished with a team-high +35 plus/minus rating.
Connor McCaffery did not commit a turnover for the second time in three games
Connor McCaffery continues to play with great control. Against the Huskers, he dished four assists and did not commit a turnover. It was his second time in three outings without a turnover.
Sunday marked his ninth game of the season without a turnover. Following the win, McCaffery averages just 0.9 turnovers per game. He’s been incredible this season.
Another aspect of his game that’s improved drastically has been his shooting. McCaffery hit a pair of 3-pointers against Nebraska, bumping his shooting percentage to 31.9 — nearly a 12-percent increase from last season.
Iowa went 8 minutes without a point in the first half
For as much as Iowa handled Nebraska with ease, the Hawkeyes struggled for a good chunk of the first half. After Wieskamp made a layup with 12:31 left in the first, Iowa did not score again till he hit another at the 4:30 mark — that’s eight minutes and one second without a single point.
At the start of the drought, Iowa led 25-9, and that’s to that early lead, Nebraska never was able to regain the lead, despite the Hawkeyes’ shooting woes.
During that eight-minute stretch of disaster, Iowa missed all 11 of its shots and turned the ball over three times.
However, for as poorly as Iowa played, Nebraska just could not string any sort of powerful run together. While Iowa went 0-for-11 from the field, Nebraska made only five of its 15 shots and committed a turnover.
But once Weiskamp’s layup broke the Hawkeye scoring drought, things clicked; Iowa made six of its final nine shots and did not commit a turnover for the final 4:30 of the first half.
Luka Garza finished with his third-best shooting performance of the season
Lost in the shuffle of Wieskamp’s excellence was Luka Garza’s wildly efficient evening. Garza scored 22 points, grabbed eight rebounds, recorded two steals, dished two assists, and notched a steal. He did all this in 27 minutes — just his second game with fewer than 30 minutes in Iowa’s last seven contests.
Garza made nine of his 13 shots from the field, good enough for 69 percent. Saturday marked the fifth game with a shooting percentage above 65 for Garza. He’s shot the ball better in only two games this season: Kennesaw State (81.8 percent) and Northwestern (71.4).
What’s next for Iowa basketball?
After playing three games in seven days, the Hawkeyes get a slight break in the action.
Iowa heads to Bloomington to play Indiana on Thursday, Feb. 13. Tip-off in Assembly Hall is slated for 7 p.m. CT. The game will be on the Big Ten Network.