It was an ominous start to the night, as tipoff was pushed back because Rutgers (?!) was beating Ohio State (?!) and sports networks have yet to figure out basketball games don’t last two hours. Then, we got this news:
No Cook? Oh, crap…right?
By the time the game aired on BTN, Iowa had jumped out to a 9-2 run, prompting a Northwestern timeout. Over the next five minutes the Wildcats chipped away at the lead, tying the game at 13 at the under 12 timeout. The bench then went to work, as Dailey, McCaffery and Baer scored or facilitated Iowa’s next 13 points, taking a 26-19 lead. Luka Garza had the green light and gave the Hawkeyes a 28-19 lead. Then, they went cold and allowed Vic Law and Anthony Gaines to chip away at the lead.
There were a number of times in the first half where Iowa played excellent defense until there was about five seconds left on the shot clock. Then, they’d break down and give up a drive to the basket. The end of the half encapsulated that nasty habit. Up 34-32 with 12 seconds remaining, the Hawkeyes pressured the Wildcats for about 10 seconds. The problem was that it only took Ryan Taylor two seconds to drive under the hoop and lay it up to the tie the game. It was your typical end of half for the Hawkeyes.
Opening the second half, the sense of dread began to creep into the hearts of Hawkeye fans. Iowa went cold and Northwestern jumped out to a 41-35 lead before…a Fran McCaffrey timeout? Yes, it happened. Sensing that the game was slipping away, he called a timeout and had a nuclear meltdown on the court. There was no chair throwing or assault on a water bottle, but there was a good amount of red face and high blood pressure.
And surprise surprise -- the timeout worked! Luka Garza went to work, forcing fouls and getting to the line. Joe Wieskamp suddenly decided that he’d take over as Iowa’s leading scorer. Here’s a stat: following that timeout at 16:59, Garza and Wieskamp combined for 27 points. Another stat: following that timeout at 16:59, Northwestern only scored 22 points. If you do the math, that’s how Iowa wins.
Wieskamp was your co-player of the game, scoring 19 points and shooting 63% from the floor. He also notched 7 rebounds, an assist, a steal and HE CAN SHAKE AND BAKE:
I will be accepting nicknames for Wieskamp. WIESY F. BABY. WIESUS. JOEY BUCKETS. Those are mine. Make your own.
Garza wasn’t terribly effective as a shooter, only going 3/9, but he was a terror-monster when it came to getting to the line and caused center Dererk Pardon to foul out (that guy has too many R’s in his name). He led the Hawkeyes with 11 free throw attempts, making 10 of them. That’s how he ended up as Iowa’s second leading scorer, with 16. Isaiah Moss shouldn’t be discounted, as he made a number of silly jump shots, scored 12 points and had four assists. You know who else had four assists? Connor McCaffrey. Yung Caff was aggressive in the first half, driving to the hoop and creating looks for teammates.
Nick Baer had your typical ultra-efficient game off the bench. He was actually Iowa’s second most efficient player of the night (he usually is), leading the team in rebounds with 10, steals with two and scoring nine points. He was also the only player not named Joe Wieskamp to actually make a three pointer. Jordan Bohannon was 0/4 from deep, but did score Iowa's last six points of the games with a pair of buckets in the paint (!) and two made free throws. So yes: Iowa won a game -- on the road! -- in which Tyler Cook didn't play and Jordan Bohannon didn't make any threes. That actually happened. Ryan Kriener struggled, going 1/6 in 14 minutes and a turnover. But hey, Maishe Dailey scored!
This game was only against just Northwestern, but it exorcised a number of demons for the Hawkeyes. They hadn’t won a Big Ten road game since (WE DON’T TALK ABOUT THAT) and had been nothing short of embarrassed on the road this season. There have also been SO MANY times when fans felt that Fran should’ve taken a timeout to prevent a game from getting out of hand. Tonight, he took the timeout, and the team responded.
The Hawkeyes move to 13-3 and 2-3 in conference. It took them until February 25th to get their 13th win last season. On Saturday, they get a home game against an Ohio State team that just lost to Rutgers. A week from today they go to State College. Then, it’s back home against Illinois. Following a laugher against Purdue the Hawkeyes have responded with wins against #24 Nebraska and a road win against Northwestern. The next three games are winnable and give the Hawkeyes a chance to take a five game winning streak into the January 24th matchup with Michigan State at Carver. Let’s get it.