By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The No. 20/22 University of Iowa men’s basketball team scored 68 points in the first half — the most points in a half in Fran McCaffery’s tenure.
The final result was as such — a 105-78 thrashing of Alabama State on Wednesday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The win moves the Hawkeyes to 5-0 for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
Iowa shot 59 percent from the field for the game, made nine 3-pointers, and converted 24-of-29 free throws.
Sophomore Luka Garza led the team with 22 points, going 8-for-8 from the field and making 5-of-6 free throws in 21 minutes, while freshman Joe Wieskamp scored a career-high 20 points in 20 minutes. He was 6-of-7 from the field, 2-of-3 from 3-point range, and 6-of-7 from the free throw line.
Junior Tyler Cook added 16 points, and junior Isaiah Moss had 15 with three 3-pointers.
Iowa stung the Hornets from the opening tip with Garza scoring the first six points to force an Alabama State timeout and Moss put an exclamation point on a 12-0 Hawkeye run to start the game with a steal and fast-break slam.
After a Garza 3-pointer gave Iowa a 17-4 advantage, Wieskamp got going, converting a three-point play to make the score 21-6 before hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Hawkeyes a 27-11 lead.
Wieskamp nearly matched his career high in the opening 8 1/2 minutes with 14 points after scoring just five points in the two games in New York.
“Right after we got back I was in the gym working,” said Wieskamp. “It bothered me to struggle. I did a lot of good things defensively and helped our team win, but I know what I am capable of offensively. I got back in the gym and Luka helped me a lot, telling me about his experiences last year.
“I came out trying to be aggressive.”
Iowa led 68-37 at the half after shooting 65.7 percent, making 23-of-35 field goal attempts, including eight 3-pointers. Garza scored 19 points in the opening 20 minutes, Wieskamp had 18, and Moss had 13.
The Hawkeyes’ starters departed the game with 14 minutes remaining so the storyline of the second half was when and how many walk-ons would see the floor and score. Iowa built its lead to as many as 38 (99-61) on an Austin Ash 3-pointer with 4:17 to play.
QUOTING HEAD COACH FRAN MCCAFFERY
“We ran, our spacing was good, and we moved it. In the first half, we got good shots. We threw it ahead, threw it inside, moved it to the weak side and kicked it. That’s the kind of team we have. We have a number of different guys who can make plays and shots. When you share the ball, it makes you hard to guard.”
Iowa scored 68 points in the first half without any first-half point contributions from junior guard Jordan Bohannon. The Hawkeyes’ previous high under McCaffery was 59 points in 2016 against Savannah State.
Iowa finished with a season-high 20 assists and committed just eight turnovers. Redshirt freshman Connor McCaffery had four assists in his first five minutes of court time and he finished with seven assists in 22 minutes.
McCaffery had a highlight-reel assist midway through the second half, feeding junior Maishe Dailey for a slam on an alley-oop, giving the Hawkeyes an 86-52 lead.
All 13 Hawkeyes available saw the court, including walk-ons Riley Till, Austin Ash, Michael Baer, and Nicolas Hobbs. Till played a career-high 16 minutes, Ash hit a 3-pointer, and Baer made 1-of-2 field goals.
“I am surprised Ash missed two,” said Fran McCaffery. “He’s a tremendous shooter. I thought he’d make all three of those shots and so did he. Michael is a good player, it was great to see him be aggressive and get to the foul line, and Nico did a good job moving the ball and finding his teammates.”
ON THE HORIZON
Iowa returns to action Tuesday, hosting Pittsburgh in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Mediacom Court. Game time is set for 8 p.m. (CT); tickets are available at hawkeyesports.com/tickets.