Iowa's demoralizing 36-point drubbing at the hands of Purdue in midweek was, in pretty much every way imaginable, a game to forget. Iowa's performance on Saturday, a 24-point mugging of Nebraska, was a game to savor -- or at least it featured a performance to savor from one Joe Wieskamp (more on that in a moment). You could scarcely have asked for a better situation for a bounce-back performance than this, though: a weekend game in front of a sold-out home crowd with a chance to not just erase the bad taste of Wednesday's thumping defeat but also get a measure of revenge for Nebraska's win in Lincoln a month ago? This was exactly what the doctor ordered and the prescription for Iowa was points, points, and more points.
Iowa never trailed in the game, going up 2-0 on a Wieskamp dunk 20 seconds into the game. Nebraska tied the game at 2-2; they never got it closer than four points after that. Against Purdue, an early 17-2 run by the Boilermakers doomed Iowa. Here, an early 17-3 run by Iowa broke the game open. There was a hiccup after that -- Iowa somehow went nearly eight minutes of game action without a point after going up 25-9 -- but they held Nebraska to just 12 points during that drought and ended the half on a 16-9 run to take a 41-30 lead into halftime thanks to a, uh, wacky CJ Fredrick 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Iowa absolutely buried Nebraska in the second half, though, outscoring them 31-10 in the first nine minutes to eradicate any chance of a Cornhusker comeback. Iowa's lead got as big as 38 in the second half (86-48 after an Austin Ash trey) before Nebraska outscored Iowa's bench mob 24-10 in the final seven minutes of the game.
The sparkplug for Iowa in this contest -- and the player of the game -- was Joe Wieskamp, who was good all game, but was absolutely molten hot at the start of the second half. Weezy had 20 points (!) in just over six minutes of game action in the early part of the half, including a personal 7-0 run and a 9-0 run a few minutes later. This was Weezy at his best: he drove to the hoop, he threw down thunderous dunks, he drew fouls, he dropped in threes; he did it all.
For the game, Wieskamp had a career-high 30 points -- on 10/15 shooting (2/4 from deep) in just 28 minutes. That is a hyper-efficient display of scoring. This was also one of the most aggressive performances from Wieskamp in memory; he attacked the rim consistently, usually getting easy layups or dunks or getting fouled. Oh, and he also added seven rebounds, three assists, two steals, a block, and drew five fouls while committing none. Wieskamp was nothing short of brilliant in this game.
That's not to say that Iowa's usual MVP, Luka Garza, had a disappointing game; he didn't. Garza went for 22 points on 9/13 shooting (2/4 from long range) to go with 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a block. Luka was still very good; he just wasn't as dazzling as Wieskamp. Garza still managed to post his ninth-straight game with at least 20 or more points, the longest-such streak by an Iowa player since John Johnson 49 years ago. Nebraska had zero answers for the Wieskamp-Garza 1-2 punch combination in this game.
For the game, Iowa shot 48.6% from the floor and 39.3% (11/28) from beyond the arc. Despite playing reserves heavily in the second half, Iowa actually improved those scoring percentages after the break; they shot 51% from the field and 50% from the 3-point line (6/12) after halftime. That 8-minute scoring drought put a hurting on Iowa's numbers in the first half (and also probably kept them from topping the 100-point mark for the game). Iowa hurt Nebraska on second chance points (scoring 14 points off 13 offensive boards, compared to 6 points off 11 offensive boards for Nebraska) and blitzed them in transition points (20-12) and points off turnovers (19-10).
Outside of Wieskamp and Garza, no other Hawkeye managed to score in double figures. In fact, Iowa's third-leading scorers were Connor McCaffery and... Austin Ash? McCaffery had 8 points on 3/6 shooting (2/4 from 3-point range) to go along with a team-high four assists and three steals. Ash, usually a member of the Bench Mob for Iowa, saw 9 minutes of action here and had 8 points on 2/5 shooting (all threes), plus a pair of free throws. Get buckets, young fella. Iowa's other two starters, Joe Toussaint and CJ Fredrick, each had six points. Fredrick struggled with his shot, going just 2/9 from the field (2/6 from long range), though he did three rebounds and three assists. Toussaint had six points on 3/5 shooting, plus a rebound and three assists.
After a scoreless first half (their third straight scoreless half in Carver), Iowa's bench finally got on the board in the second half and finished with 24 points in some of their most extended playing time in Big Ten action. Ash led the way with eight points, but Bakari Evelyn had five, Ryan Kriener had four, Cordell Pemsl had three, and Riley TIll and Nicolas Hobbs had two apiece. In fact, every Iowa player who saw action scored at least two points except Michael Baer, who went 0/1 in his 3+ minutes on the court.
This was the emphatic bounce-back performance Iowa needed after the Purdue debacle earlier in the week. Even aside from that outing, Iowa had faced some struggles in many of their recent home games; they were tied or losing with around five minutes to go against Michigan, Rutgers, Wisconsin, and Illinois before pulling away at the end of those games to get the W. There were no late heroics needed here; Iowa jumped on Nebraska from the start and, after a hiccup in the first half, put the game fully out of reach with a an epic scoring binge to start the second half. That's exactly what a good team should do to a bad team at home and it was gratifying to see Iowa follow that script to a T here. Jam on 'em, boys:
NEXT: Iowa heads on the road to face Indiana (15-8, 5-7 Big Ten) at 7:00 PM CT on Thursday, February 13 (BTN).