The Iowa men’s basketball team entered Thursday without notching a regular-season win in Ames since 2001— but that streak has ended.
The Hawkeyes defeated the Cyclones, 84-68, at Hilton Coliseum in a game that Iowa dominated for nearly the entire 40 minutes.
“We came out and we pretty much dominated the game for 38 minutes,” Iowa guard Connor McCaffery said. “They had that one run to start the second half, but other than that, it was all us.”
The Hawkeyes started the game on an 18-4 run behind a very balanced offensive attack. Four different Iowa players hit a 3-pointer before the first media timeout with 16:23 remaining in the first half — the first of which came from sophomore forward Joe Wieskamp.
The Muscatine, Iowa, native tried to secure a defensive rebound after Iowa State’s first offensive possession of the game, but had the ball ripped out of his hands by Iowa State’s Solomon Young.
Young proceeded to throw down a dunk, tying the game at 2.
The miscue didn’t shake Wieskamp. The very next possession, he drained a shot from deep to begin Iowa’s early run.
“This is probably the one game that I looked at and was like, ‘That’s a must win for us,’” Wieskamp said. “Obviously, it’s a big win for us, and I’m very happy about it.”
Iowa carried a 39-24 lead into the locker room at the half. Much like the crowd at Hilton Coliseum, the Cyclones came to life to begin the second half.
Iowa State jumped out to a 13-5 run through the first 3:30 of the second half, going 5-for-5 from the field. The run by the Cyclones brought Iowa’s lead down to seven points, but the Hawkeyes responded.
“We knew that runs were coming,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “They kept fighting; we knew they would. I think the critical thing as you move through the season is how you handle adversity during the course of a game. We did a really good job of that tonight.”
While many of Iowa’s players had to handle adversity mentally, center Luka Garza had to overcome a physical obstacle.
Garza took a shot to the face toward the end of the second half, but that was not going to stop him from going back on the court against the in-state rival.
“He already got his face stitched up without any pain medication [in Iowa’s victory over Texas Tech in Las Vegas Nov. 28] and went back in the game,” Fran McCaffery said. “He got his tooth knocked back. I thought he was done for the night. Then he said, ‘Coach, I’m ready to go,’ so I put him back in.”
The Washington native finished with 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting. He also hauled in 11 rebounds.
Overall, Iowa finished with a very balanced offensive performance against the Cyclones. Five players scored in double figures, and six Hawkeyes made a 3-point shot.
Iowa cooled down Iowa State after that early hot streak to begin the second half, quickly extending its lead back to double-digits.
Cyclone fans made their way out of Hilton Coliseum as the last remaining time drained off the clock with next year’s matchup already in mind, while the Hawkeyes knew that a losing streak in Ames was no more.
“We all know the significance of this rivalry,” Garza said. “We know that [Fran McCaffery] hasn’t won here. [Iowa] hasn’t won here eight-straight times. We all knew that. We had a focus to end that streak, and we did.”