IOWA 95, ILLINOIS 71: JUST BLAZE

By Adam Jacobi on January 20, 2019 at 2:49 pm
Isaiah Moss is open.
© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
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Iowa shot 15-for-21 from behind the arc and set a Carver-Hawkeye Arena record by shooting 68% from the field for the game as the Hawkeyes blazed past Illinois, 95-71, on Sunday afternoon. Joe Wieskamp led all scorers with 24 points on 8-for-8 shooting.

Iowa has now won five straight Big Ten games for the first time since starting the 2015-16 season at 7-0* and sits at 16-3 (5-3) on the season with a visit from sixth-ranked Michigan State looming on Thursday. 

*Please do not ask what happened next.

As one might expect with a historic shooting performance, there were plenty of great individual performances on Sunday. Wieskamp is the star, of course, making every attempted shot including going 6-for-6 from deep. Isaiah Moss added 21 points on 12 shots (5-for-6 for three), Luka Garza scored 20 and even Jordan Bohannon's 10 points came on just four shots from the field.

In fact, the most impressive part of this victory isn't just that Iowa broke a team record for FG%, or that it came against a conference foe, it's that Bohannon and Tyler Cook didn't have to be the focal points of the offense. Iowa got the ball in Cook's hands plenty of times, but Tyler, The Facilitator had twice as many assists (4) as shots attempted (2-for-2).

Iowa's key stretch started with about two minutes gone in the second half. After Garza missed a three-pointer and the Illini cut the deficit back to 12 points, Iowa's offense went on this tear:

  • 2 free throws, Isaiah Moss
  • 3-pointer, Isaiah Moss
  • Missed jumper, Isaiah Moss
  • 3-pointer, Isaiah Moss
  • 3-pointer, Jordan Bohannon
  • 3-pointer, Joe Wieskamp
  • 3-pointer, Isaiah Moss
  • 3-pointer, Jordan Bohannon
  • Turnover, Tyler Cook
  • Dunk, Luka Garza
  • 3-pointer, Isaiah Moss

That's 25 points on 11 possessions, and Iowa's lead ballooned to 68-45, erasing any hope the Illini had of keeping the game close. 

As a whole, the Hawkeyes assisted on 29 of their 34 made baskets for the game, a testament to brilliant passing and spacing. The Illini came into the game at 5th in defensive efficiency in Big Ten play, and Iowa absolutely incinerated them. The coaches deserve a ton of credit for this gameplan. 

The nice thing about shooting the lights out is that your defense doesn't have to be very good, and Iowa's defense... was not very good. The Illini scored a pedestrian 71 points on the game, but 47 came in the second half, dampening the effect of Iowa's explosive efforts just a touch. The game was never in doubt—Illinois continues to be terrible at men's intercollegiate varsity basketball—but this could have been a 40-point blowout. Instead, thanks to 17(!) offensive rebounds, the Illini kept their offensive efficiency at semi-competent levels.

And it absolutely did not matter, because Iowa brought a flamethrower to a spoon fight.

Only a late three-pointer and two badly missed free throws from Michael Baer (Baby Baer!) kept Iowa from setting a new record for margin of victory in the rivalry — 95-70 in 1975, if you were curious. Damn shame, because Iowa played like it wanted to send Illinois home in historic fashion. We'll take 24 and a five-game winning streak.

GO IOWA AWESOME.

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