Iowa men’s basketball continues to show clutch gene

Close games haven’t halted the Hawkeyes as they move to an important part of the season.


Lily Smith

Iowa guard Joe Wieskamp looks to pass the ball during the Iowa/Northwestern men’s basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, February 10, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 80-79. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

Iowa men’s basketball is on a buzzer-beating run of a lifetime.

First, it was Jordan Bohannon’s leaning shot to the right to take down Northwestern in Carver-Hawkeye on Feb. 10. Then, Joe Wieskamp — true freshman and all — nailed a shot from the left corner off the backboard with 0.2 seconds left to help Iowa avoid its first bad loss of the season, against Rutgers on Feb. 16.

With the win over the Scarlet Knights, the Hawkeyes have now toppled four Big Ten opponents in a row, including another drama-filled win at Indiana and a victory over then-No. 5 Michigan.

RELATED: Wieskamp’s buzzer-beater topples Rutgers

“We’re able to persevere,” Wieskamp said. “We know that teams are going to make runs at us, but we’ve got to stay calm, keep fighting, and keep attacking.”

That attack mindset has continued to flow through the brains of the Hawkeyes. Iowa faced a 15-point deficit in the last 4:30 against Northwestern and trailed at half in front of a sold-out crowd in Piscataway, New Jersey.

Through it all, Iowa has never faltered, no matter how hopeless the situation has seemed.

“You still have a chance to win, and you have to make sure you have you have the right people on the floor and they understand the framework of what we’re trying to do,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “Contrary to what a lot of people think, we diagram these things and it goes to perfection — it never goes to perfection. There are numerous options in a situation like that, and you hope that one of them works.”

Wieskamp has battled more than clutch situations, though. He dealt with a sore back throughout the week, making his availability for the game against Rutgers a bit foggier.

On Feb. 14, McCaffery said Wieskamp would likely be able to play, and he ended up coming through when Iowa needed him to the most, capping off the late Hawkeye run.

“Like I always say, I don’t think he realizes how great he’s going to be,” Bohannon said after his game-winner against Northwestern. “He has so much ahead of him in his life, but right now he’s playing really great basketball, and he’s able to open up a lot of opportunities for a lot of guys on the floor.”

Now, the Hawkeyes head toward the home stretch of the regular season. Only six games remain until the Big Ten Tournament with one of Iowa’s biggest contests coming up against Wisconsin March 7 along with Maryland in Carver on Tuesday.

The season is shaping up to be the first time in a few years the Hawkeyes have the capabilities of making a run in the postseason. After an NIT berth in 2016-17 and no tournament bid last season, the Hawkeyes are coming up clutch at one of the most important points of the season.

“We got a lot of basketball left to play,” Wieskamp said. “Obviously, this is a big win, that was a big shot. But we still got six Big Ten games left in the season, plus we want to be playing deep into the postseason as well.”

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