Hot start fuels Hawkeyes in win over Buckeyes

After getting out to an early 18-3 lead over Ohio State, Iowa never relented and improved to 13-1 this season at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.


Katina Zentz

Iowa guard Joe Wieskamp dunks the ball during the men's basketball game against Ohio State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, February 20, 2020. The Hawkeyes defeated the Buckeyes 85-76.

Robert Read, Sports Editor

Big leads in the Big Ten are tough to come back from. Ohio State ran into that problem in Iowa City on Thursday night.

Before Ohio State even had a chance to settle in, the Hawkeyes had already left the Buckeyes behind.

Connor McCaffery hit a shot from deep to open the game’s scoring. Joe Toussaint and Luka Garza followed with their own 3’s. Toussaint forced an Ohio State turnover, and then he proceeded to make an acrobatic move to get into the paint and hit a layup while being fouled.

A second-chance rebound by forward Cordell Pemsl stretched the Iowa lead to 18-3 just under six minutes into the game.

“A couple games ago, coach came up to us and was talking about how we weren’t starting the game off as well as we wanted to,” Garza said. “I think we’ve had a couple games in a row that we’ve had really good starts. We’ve had a big focus on delivering the first punch. I think we did that tonight.”

Getting down early in the game has cost Iowa games against Purdue and Indiana recently. That wasn’t going to happen at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday.

After taking the lead 90 seconds into the game, Iowa never relented. The Hawkeyes held the lead for the rest of the contest.

“A lot of people were getting going in the first half,” Iowa guard Joe Wieskamp said. “We were moving the ball pretty well, creating different shots for different guys, and they were able to knock them down.”

The only Hawkeye that wasn’t hitting early on was Wieskamp.

The sophomore came into Thursday’s game off of his worst performance of the season. Against Minnesota Feb. 16, Wieskamp finished with only two points on 1-of-7 shooting. His struggles continued early on against the Buckeyes.

“I was just frustrated throughout the game,” Wieskamp said. “Shots weren’t falling. They were all over me; you can tell that their game plan was to take me out of it. At the same time, I’ve got to remind myself that I’m creating opportunities for other guys when they are all over me.”

Wieskamp was held scoreless until the 3:25 mark of the first half. Right before the break, the Hawkeyes had a final possession to add to their lead. Wieskamp took advantage.

Garza had the ball in the post but shot a pass out to Wieskamp on the perimeter. The sharpshooter then made his only three of the night.

“Huge three,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “I did not [draw it up]. I wish I could tell you that I did. That was just a really good player making a really good shot.”

Wieskamp finished with 13 points on the night.

Things should be looking up for Iowa as the Big Ten Tournament approaches. Guard CJ Fredrick is working his way back from his ankle injury, and the team continues to keep pace for a double-bye in Indianapolis.

Iowa’s prepared for the final stretch, no matter who is on the court.

“I think we continue to build momentum,” Garza said. “No matter what lineup is out there, we all play well together. I think we’ve been forced to do that because of injuries. It’s just a really connected group and we’re going to continue to stay together.”

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