Wieskamp bounces back in Iowa’s signature win over No. 5 Michigan

After two rough performances, Joe Wieskamp came back with a solid night on the stat sheet to help the Hawkeyes upset the fifth-ranked Wolverines.

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Lily Smith

Iowa forward Joe Wieskamp reacts after making a layup during the Iowa/Michigan men’s basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, February 1, 2019. The Hawkeyes took down the No. 5 ranked Wolverines, 74-59.

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

Joe Wieskamp is back to his usual way of getting buckets, and it could not have come at a better time for Iowa.

Behind Wieskamp’s 16-point, 7-rebound, 5-steal performance, the Hawkeyes toppled No. 5 Michigan in Carver-Hawkeye on Feb. 1 for its first signature win of the season, 74-59.

In Iowa’s previous two games — losses to Minnesota and Michigan State — Wieskamp managed to score only 8 points on 2-of-8 shooting.

Iowa needed Wieskamp to bounce back with a solid game if it wanted to score its first home win over a top-10 team since 2015, and that’s exactly what the Hawkeyes got.

“Personally, I needed this a lot,” Wieskamp said. “I wouldn’t say my confidence was going down, but anytime you have two nights where you don’t score the ball very well. Myself, I’ve always been a big scorer, so that’s very unlike me.”

To make the freshman’s outing even more impressive, it came against one of the country’s best defenses.

Michigan entered the game giving up only 56.1 points per game, good for first in the Big Ten and second in the country.

But on Feb. 1, Wieskamp had the Maize and Blue puzzle solved.

“I’m so proud of him,” forward Luka Garza said. “To have two games where he’s not scoring as much and come back out here, that’s when he’s showing signs of maturity. That kid’s amazing, and I was just really happy for him, and I knew it would happen … He’s built for these moments.”

Wieskamp’s scoring started about midway through the first half. He ripped off a steal at half court and took it back for an easy layup in transition, before hitting another easy bucket for Iowa’s next points. He made it 6 in a row with a dunk shortly after.

After two Nicholas Baer free throws, Wieskamp finished with a massive and-1 in the midst of a 21-2 run for the Hawkeyes in a stretch of 5:08.

He finished the half with 12 points — more than his previous two games combined — before raising that mark to 16 by the game’s end, and it was apparent how much it meant to him.

“I struggled a little bit the past few games offensively; I didn’t get really anything going,” Wieskamp said. “For myself to get that little run, you could see I was showing a little bit of emotion. I think that’s just because everything was all built up, the frustration, and it just felt good to let it out.”

Wieskamp struggled in Iowa’s previous matchups with top-10 opponents.

He scored 8 on 2-of-5 shooting in the Hawkeyes’ first loss to then-No. 10 Michigan State on Dec. 3, then dropped just 5 against the No. 6 Spartans on Jan. 24.

Against No. 5 Michigan, though, it was a different story.

“I told him after the last game, I said, ‘You got to recognize when you walk on the floor, you got to view yourself as one of the best players out there; I wouldn’t trade you for anybody,’ ” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “You make a mistake, run back, guard your man. I’m not going to yank you … Develop that swag that you need to be one of the premier players in this league and ultimately in the country. That’s what he is.”

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