Different Connor McCaffery showed up against Michigan State on Saturday
Junior guard tallies 16 points in 88-58 rout of Spartans
By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Connor McCaffery rarely scores in double figures.
In fact, the junior guard’s 16-point performance in No. 15 Iowa’s 88-58 win over Michigan State on Saturday was just the second time this season that he has eclipsed 10 points.
The Hawkeyes improved to 9-5 in Big Ten play and 15-6 overall.
“Connor was terrific tonight the way he shot the ball,” junior guard Joe Wieskamp said. “Obviously, he’s a terrific passer, but when teams are sagging off on him a little bit to help on Luka and he’s able to knock down those shot it just opens up a lot more stuff for our offense.”
The majority of McCaffery’s scoring came on a career-high four 3-pointers, two of which came in the first half to help Iowa cruise to a 46-27 halftime lead.
McCaffery came into Saturday averaging 3.5 points per game on the season with a Big Ten-leading 4.6 assist-to-turnover ratio.
The Iowa City native scored eight points combined in Iowa’s previous four games but was 6-of-8 shooting from the field on Saturday.
The 6-foot-5 McCaffery’s scoring burst was timely with the nation’s leading scorer, Luka Garza, being held to eight points, and sophomore guard C.J. Fredrick sitting out due to a lower leg injury.
Fredrick is Iowa’s third-leading scorer and is shooting 49% from 3-point range this season.
Freshman forward Keegan also provided a much-needed spark with two early 3-point baskets as a starter in place of Fredrick.
“Getting Connor and Keegan (Murray) going early, I think it really changed how our team performed offensively throughout the game,” head coach Fran McCaffery said.
Wieskamp, a native of Muscatine, led Iowa with 21 points, his fifth game with at least 20 points this season.
Sophomore forward Jack Nunge also turned in arguably his best performance of the season.
The 6-foot-11, Newburgh, Ind., native tied his career high with 18 points and set career highs with 11 rebounds and six assists to record his second double-double of the season.
“I think I played well today,” Nunge said. “I think my team did a great job getting me the ball in spots to score, and I was finding them. They were knocking down the shots when I passed it to them. It was huge. It was a big team win for us. Everybody across the board played well and I think that’s something we can use going forward as momentum.