Iowa beats Wisconsin 77-62 for rare road win at Kohl Center
Senior center Luka Garza leads the way with 30 points
By Tyler Devine
The Iowa basketball team exorcised more Big Ten road demons Thursday in a 77-62 win over Wisconsin in a game in which Iowa led for all but 47 seconds.
Five days after their second win at Michigan State since 1993, the Hawkeyes won at the Kohl Center for the first time since March 2, 2017 and the third time in the last 16 meetings in Madison, Wisconsin.
lowa’s National Player of the Year candidate Luka Garza led all scorers with 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range.
The Hawkeyes improved to 10-5 in Big Ten play and 16-6 overall.
“I think we beat a really good team,” head coach Fran McCaffery said. “I thought we shared the ball, which is kind of a staple of our team, but I thought our man-to-man was good again. We mixed it, of course, but I thought our man-to-man was really good. They shot 34 threes. That’s a lot of threes, we were chasing them around. But I thought our defense start to finish was pretty good.”
Iowa’s current three-game winning streak is due in large part to its defensive performance.
The Hawkeyes have allowed an average of 62 points per game during the streak, more than 10 points below their season average.
Iowa held Wisconsin to 30% shooting from the field and just over 38% from 3-point range.
“It’s something we’ve really locked in on,” junior guard Joe Wieskamp said. “Obviously, there was a stretch there where we lost four out of five. When you go through that type of adversity, you go back and watch the film to see ways in which you can be better. I think when we did that we saw a lot of uncharacteristic things and a lot of mistakes that we shouldn’t be making. I think going through that is almost going to make us better.
“I feel like the way we’re playing right now we can make a deep run in the tournament and we’ve just go to continue to fight defensively. I think our ability to defend and being up in team’s spaces is leading to better offense.”
Wieskamp continued his blistering shooting pace, scoring 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting from 3-point range.
The 6-foot-6 Muscatine, Iowa, native is 22-of-35 from 3-point range and is averaging 19.8 points in Iowa’s last five games.
“Obviously, my shot is feeling really good right now,” Wieskamp said. “I’m playing with a lot of confidence, playing aggressive. Coach is running sets for me and my teammates are finding me at the right times. At the end of the day, I’m just shooting with a lot of confidence. I’m just going to keep it up and keep it rolling.”
Wieskamp also added eight rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal.
“I think the most impressive thing about him, and obviously we notice his shooting, but his rebounding and defense has gone to a whole other level,” McCaffery said. “And what that does is make a big difference in your team’s ability to win. So, I’m just really proud of Joe Wieskamp and the complete nature of his game right now.”
Wieskamp’s shooting was particularly important during a stretch in the second half when Wisconsin cut Iowa’s lead to 49-46 due to some hot outside shooting, but the Hawkeyes used a 22-8 run down the stretch to pull away from the Badgers.
“We had a couple of goofy turnovers before that,” McCaffery said. “I thought we executed on offense and we got consecutive stops when we needed them. We just showed a lot of toughness there.”
Sophomore guard C.J. Fredrick played 31 minutes in his return to the Iowa lineup, the most he has played since Iowa’s win over Northwestern on Dec. 29.
Fredrick has been hampered recently by a lower leg injury that has limited his playing time and kept him out of Iowa’s win over Michigan State on Feb. 13.
The 6-3, Cincinnati, Ohio, native scored five points and had four assists and zero turnovers on Thursday.
“I feel good,” Fredrick said. “Toward the end I got a little tired. That just comes with lack of reps. But I’m starting to get more reps in practice, building my conditioning up. But I was really happy with 31 minutes tonight. I thought I was productive and did everything I could to help us get a win.”
Iowa’s next game is against Penn State on Feb. 21 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, in which Garza has a chance to make history.
The 6-foot-11, Washington D.C., native needs 14 points to pass the late Roy Marble and become Iowa’s all-time leading scorer.
Garza also needs eight rebounds to pass Bruce King for sixth on the school’s all-time list.
“Honestly, I try not to think about it. Obviously, I know how much of an honor it would be to pass a guy like Roy Marble. He’s a legend, a Hawkeye great, and he’s paved the way for so many guys who put on this uniform and represented this university. It definitely would be an honor.
“When you look at that, it just speaks to the countless teammates that I’ve had that have made me look good over my career. As a post guy, you need great guards who are able to feed you the ball and put you in positions to score. So, I think they’ve made me look good for the years I’ve been here, and I’m just really thankful that coach McCaffery found me and gave me an opportunity to represent the University of Iowa.”