Moss’ hot hand fueling Iowa hoop’s fire

Iowa basketball is off to a hot stretch thanks to Isaiah Moss’ hot hand from 3-point range.


Lily Smith

Iowa guard Isaiah Moss attempts a layup during the Iowa/Illinois men’s basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, January 20, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 95-71.

Adam Hensley, Pregame Editor

On Sunday, everything was falling for Isaiah Moss.

The junior scored a season-high 21 points, and he drained five of his six 3-point attempts in No. 19 Iowa’s 95-71 win over Illinois.

“It feels great,” Moss said. “I’ve got great point guards who want to come find me when they know I’m hot, so every time I let it go, it feels great.”

Moss’ hot hand from deep carried over from Iowa’s 89-82 road win over Penn State. In that contest, Moss made all four of his 3-point attempts.

So over the past two games, the redshirt junior from Chicago has made nine of his 10 3-point attempts. That’s 90 percent from downtown, for those of you counting uptown.

“It’s a lot of fun watching Isaiah get cooking like that,” Hawkeye forward Tyler Cook said. “He’s such a dynamic player on both ends of the floor. When he gets hot, you can almost see a different look in his eyes. He’s just out there having fun, hooping, and it looks natural for him.”

Lily Smith
Iowa forward Tyler Cook drives to the hoop during the Iowa/Illinois men’s basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, January 20, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 95-71.

Moss did most of his damage against Illinois in the second half — he only played 10 minutes in the first half.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery sat Moss for almost a nine-minute stretch. However, right when he returned to the floor, Moss blocked a shot, nailed a jump shot just outside the paint, and then drilled a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer.

RELATED: Wieskamp, Moss lead 3-point shootout for Hawkeyes

Sometimes, after not playing for such a long duration, there can be difficulty in getting into a rhythm, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

“It’s hard to do, but it’s not hard to do for him,” McCaffery said. “He’s got a pretty confident mindset as it relates to his offensive skills.”

It’s that sort of confidence that has propelled Moss to the best 3-point shooting over a two-game stretch in his career.

“Just slowing my mind down and really reading the defense — that’s about it, really,” Moss said. “I’ve been working on that in practice.”

Sunday marked the first time since Iowa’s 98-84 win over Iowa State that Hawkeye fans saw Moss catch fire and seemingly take over a game.

In the win against the Cyclones, Moss made four of his five 3-point attempts, scoring 20 points.

But from there, he struggled to find the mark from downtown. From Dec. 15 to Jan. 12, Moss made just seven of his 26 3-point attempts (26.9 percent) — that’s two fewer 3-pointers than his latest two-game stretch. When he’s hitting shots in rhythm, Moss is one of the most dynamic players on the Hawkeye roster, and Sunday was an example of that.

“He can do everything,” Cook said. “He’s as athletic as they come, can finish at the rim with either hand, and he can obviously shoot the lights out. His IQ, his knowledge of the game has really gotten a lot better in terms of realizing how teams are playing him or how they’re playing other guys.”

Through 19 games this season, Moss has knocked down 3-pointers at 45.5 percent — his highest single-season percentage in his three years on the court — and he’s statistically the best long-range shooter in the starting lineup.

“It’s scary the fact that he’s not as good as he’s going to be yet,” Cook said.