Wieskamp leads Iowa in win over Minnesota

Iowa’s Joe Wieskamp played a key role on both ends of the court for all 40 minutes in the Hawkeyes’ win over Minnesota on Monday.

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Katina Zentz

Iowa guard Joe Wieskamp dunks the ball during the men's basketball game against Minnesota at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Monday, December 9, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Gophers 72-52.

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

It came as a bit of a shock when Iowa center Luka Garza missed his first shot of the night in Iowa’s 72-52 win over Minnesota on Monday.

The junior big man had been red-hot, winning Big Ten Player of the Week honors after averaging 33.5 points and 8.5 rebounds last week, including a 44-point showing in a loss at Michigan.

But on Monday, it was all about Joe Wieskamp.

Wieskamp dropped a season-high 23 points in the Hawkeyes’ conference home-opener, getting Iowa back on the right track in the Big Ten.

“I would say [that was my best game of the season] overall,” Wieskamp said. “I tried to come out and just be aggressive from the get-go. If I had an open shot, I was going to take it. That was kind of my mindset going into it.”

It felt as if Wieskamp would have a big game from the jump.

The junior swingman kicked off the contest with a bucket from 3-point land to give Iowa an early 3-2 lead. On Iowa’s next possession, Wieskamp unleashed a dime to a cutting CJ Fredrick before hitting another 3.

By the time the under 16 timeout came around, Wieskamp already racked up 11 points and a 3-of-3 mark from deep.

The second half brought more of the same. After Iowa took a 37-29 lead into the break, Wieskamp put Iowa up by double digits with another triple to start the second half.

Then, as Minnesota attempted to stage a comeback, Wieskamp blocked Gopher guard Tre’ Williams on the perimeter before taking it across the court for a vicious dunk.

“Huge play in the game,” Iowa guard CJ Fredrick said. “They were kind of making a run a little bit to try to get back in the game. It was kind of a breakdown on defense, and he didn’t give up on the play. He used his long wingspan, blocked it, and got the run-out dunk. Kind of got the crowd going and got us going.”

It’s that type of play on both ends of the ball that has impressed Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery the most.

When Iowa beat Syracuse on Dec. 3, Wieskamp held Elijah Hughes — who averages 19.6 points per game — to 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting. Hughes scored 33 one game later.

That productivity carried over to Iowa’s win over the Gophers.

“He was locked in, and he’s been that way,” McCaffery said. “The thing that was impressive to me about Joe tonight was he played that [great] defense, and then he played that kind of offense. And that’s what the great ones do.”

Wieskamp may have picked up where Garza left off, but it’s not as if Garza didn’t pull his own weight.

Iowa’s junior big man netted 21 points and 10 rebounds in the victory.

But it was Wieskamp who sparked Iowa for a full 40 minutes, helping the Hawkeyes notch their first conference win of the season.

“He’s an unbelievable player, unbelievable shooter,” Garza said. “He had a couple bad games — that’s to his standard. For us, he’s doing a really good job, but he pushes himself hard, and I’m so glad to see him in that rhythm, scoring at that output because that’s the type of player he is. That’s the type of player he’s going to be for us this year.”

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