By JAMES ALLAN
EVANSTON, Ill. — The 25th-ranked University of Iowa men’s basketball team solved a road puzzle without its lead man.
Playing without leading scorer Tyler Cook, the Hawkeyes won their second straight game and posted their first road win of the season, downing Northwestern, 73-63, Wednesday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Iowa improves to 13-3 overall, 2-3 in Big Ten play.
“I am proud of how we were able to come here in a tough environment and get a big win,” said senior Nicholas Baer, who narrowly missed a double-double after finishing with nine points and 10 rebounds. “We knew we have been struggling on the road lately, and we were able to come here against a good Northwestern team and play together. It was huge for us.”
After battling to a 34-all tie at the half, Northwestern surged with a 10-3 run over the first four minutes of the second half to build a 44-37 lead. It was the Wildcats’ first lead of the game.
“We knew we had to settle down a little bit,” said Baer. “We were down six (when McCaffery called a timeout), there was a lifetime left in this game. We got punched at the start of the second half and we made our run as the second half progressed.
“I am proud of how we were able to respond to some adversity on the road and come out and get the road win.”
Behind Baer and freshman Joe Wieskamp, Iowa followed with a 19-4 run, turning a seven-point deficit into a 56-48 lead with 11:14 to play. Baer scored the first five points and Wieskamp scored 10 of 12 points during the spurt.
“Coming down the stretch, Joe was spectacular as a scorer, rebounder, and defender,” said Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery.
Northwestern didn’t get closer than five points the rest of the way as the Hawkeyes kept the Wildcats at bay by making 17-of-19 second-half free throws. Iowa was 21-of-26 from the foul line for the game.
Wieskamp led all scorers with 19 points, making 7-of-11 field goals and two of Iowa’s four 3-pointers. Sophomore Luka Garza scored 16 points off the bench fueled by making 10-of-11 free throws. Junior Isaiah Moss added 12 points.
Iowa shot 41.4 percent for the game, but made just 4-of-17 3-point attempts. The Hawkeyes out-rebounded Northwestern, 40-32, and limited the Wildcats to a 38.6 field goal percentage.
“It was a great team effort and a great team win,” said Baer.
Vic Law and Anthony Gaines led Northwestern with 13 points apiece.
QUOTING HEAD COACH FRAN MCCAFFERY
“The first part of the second half, they hit us in the mouth and went up seven. There was plenty of time. I got on them good in that timeout and they responded. They responded with stops, execution, and intelligent physicality.
“We go 21-of-26 from the line; we out-rebound them by eight and shoot 10 more free throws. That helps you overcome 4-of-23 (from 3-point range).”
Iowa was without its leading scorer Tyler Cook, who missed the game because of knee soreness. Cook is day-to-day.
“We didn’t know Tyler wasn’t going to play until shoot-around today,” said McCaffery. “Yesterday we thought he was going to go, he just didn’t feel right. It’s something that is on-going, something that is nagging.”
- Iowa’s road win snapped an eight-game Big Ten road-losing streak. The Hawkeyes’ last league road win came at Illinois on Jan. 11, 2018.
- Iowa has won seven of its last eight games, dating back to Dec. 6.
- Wieskamp led the Hawkeyes in scoring for the fourth time this season, netting 15 of his game-best 19 points in the second half.
- After starting 4-of-8 from the free throw line, Iowa finished the game making 17 of its final 18 free throw attempts.
ON THE HORIZON
The Hawkeyes return to action Saturday, hosting 16th-ranked Ohio State at 1:30 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. A limited number of tickets are available at bit.ly/2H2AWal.
“You win two in a row, you look to keep it rolling,” said Baer. “We’re looking forward to getting back to Carver in front of a rocking crowd.”