No matchup engendered skepticism of Iowa quite like its 90-68 loss at Michigan State in early December.
The Hawkeyes collapsed late in the first half, allowing the Spartans to reel off a staggering 40-11 run in a drubbing that felt like so many of the ones Iowa suffered through a year ago.
The 19th-ranked Hawkeyes have looked like a different team of late — and they’d like nothing more than to prove it when they host the sixth-ranked Spartans (17-2, 8-0) tonight.
Iowa (16-3, 5-3) has won five straight, including a 95-71 blowout of Illinois on Sunday, after starting 0-3 in the Big Ten.
“We’re just further along in the process, that’s all,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
It’s been a long process though. Iowa essentially brought back its entire team from 2017-18, the one that finished a dismal 14-19. By far the biggest change was adding freshman Joe Wieskamp, who has lived up to expectations.
Wieskamp, who broke the state’s career scoring record while at Muscatine (Iowa) High, has cracked double figures in each of his last five games. It’s a stretch that culminated in one of the best performances at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in recent memory against the Illini.
Wieskamp hit all eight shots he took, finished 6-of-6 on 3-pointers and tied a career high with 24 points. Wieskamp joined Nik Stauskas of Michigan and D’Angelo Russell of Ohio State as the only Big Ten freshmen who’ve gone 6-of-6 or better on 3’s the past 10 seasons.
“He might blow a game open with his 3-point shot. It might be drives to the basket,” McCaffery said of Wieskamp. “He gives you tough baskets, but he also can move his feet laterally and defend. He rebounds. He rebounds in traffic. He has a keen understanding of time and score and what we need and what we don’t need. He doesn’t do anything crazy ever.”
Wieskamp left the last meeting with the Spartans with a sprained ankle, a familiar injury for McCaffery’s rotation this season.
Iowa is finally healthy, and that’s been as big of a reason for their recent success as anything else. But they’ll still underdogs against the Spartans. Michigan State enters Thursday’s game with a 12-game winning streak and a 20-game run in league games dating to last season.
Wednesday’s Big Ten
Purdue 79, (at) Ohio State 67: Streaking Purdue has won four in a row and seven of the last eight, with guard Carsen Edwards positioning himself among the nation’s scoring leaders.
Ohio State has lost five straight — the longest losing streak for the school in two decades – and is searching for answers. An injury last week to key big man Kyle Young added to the hurt.
Edwards carried the load again for Purdue with 27 points as the Boilermakers (13-6, 6-2 Big Ten) held off a late Ohio State rally.
The Buckeyes (12-6, 2-5) surged back from a 10-point halftime deficit and got within two points with seven minutes left before Edwards knocked down a 3-pointer and the Boilermakers opened it back up.
“Last year you saw that a lot when we would just kind of grind some teams out, and I think today was one of the times we really did that,” said Purdue center Matt Haarms, who had nine points. “They kept coming back we just kept blowing it open again.”
Ohio State again got scant production from its top scorer, Kaleb Wesson, who got into foul trouble for the third straight game. Coach Chris Holtmann picked up a technical foul for his vehement protest after Wesson picked up this third foul late in the first half.
Wesson’s older brother Andre had a career-high 22 points on 4-for-5 shooting from beyond the arc, and Musa Jallow had 12 for Ohio State.
Ryan Cline added 13 points for the Boilermakers.
Purdue started 1-for-8 from the field as Ohio State built a 17-8 lead. But the Buckeyes got sloppy, watching the Boilermakers go on a 22-1 run that included 3-pointers from Grady Eifert and Eric Hunter Jr. and pair of 3-point bombs from Ryan Cline.
“We should have (been up) anywhere from 15 to 18 at the half, instead we’re at 10,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “They shoot the ball well in the second half and make a lot of 3s and had a really good stretch. They made it a game.”
The Buckeyes closed the score to 58-56 on a Jallow 3-pointer with seven minutes left but couldn’t get any closer. A 3-pointer by Eifert with 1:01 left all but sealed it.
Wisconsin 72, (at) Illinois 60: Nate Reuvers scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Wisconsin beat Illinois.
D’Mitrik Trice and Khalil Iverson added 16 and 12 points respectively for Wisconsin (13-6,5-3 Big Ten).
Giorgi Bezhanishvili scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and Aaron Jordan added 10 points for Illinois (5-14,1-7).
The Badgers uncharacteristically turned the ball over five times in the first 3 minutes of the game, although the Illini were only able to convert one field goal during that time.
At the end of the half and Happ on the bench with two fouls, Illinois went on an 8-0 run to tie the game at 30. With a second left in the half, Trice heaved a shot from the top of the key and was fouled by Andres Feliz. Trice sank both shots with a tenth of a second on the clock to give Wisconsin a 32-30 lead at the midway point.
No. 1 Tennessee 88, Vanderbilt 83: Grant Williams scored a career-high 43 points and finished off a three-point play with 31.6 seconds left in overtime to put top-ranked Tennessee ahead to stay, and the Volunteers barely avoided a repeat of their last trip to Memorial Gym freshly minted as the nation’s No. 1 team by holding off Vanderbilt.
The Volunteers (17-1, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) won their 13th straight game and first since moving to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 on Monday for the second time in program history. They also have won five of the last six against their in-state rival.
The Commodores (9-9, 0-6) came in hoping to pull off their seventh upset of a No. 1 team in Memorial Gym, a list of wins that includes knocking off Tennessee on Feb. 26, 2008, a day after the Vols took over the top-ranked spot. That squad was ranked in the Top 25, but these Commodores are off to the school’s worst start in SEC play and have only one senior.
Williams went a career-best 23 of 23 at the free throw line, the most free throws without a miss in the NCAA since Arlen Clark was 24 of 24 for Oklahoma State on March 7, 1959.
(At) No. 7 Nevada 100, Colorado State 60: Jordan Caroline scored 26 points and Nevada cruised past Colorado State to give Eric Musselman his 100th win as a college coach. Cody Martin added 19 points and brother Caleb Martin had 18 for the Wolf Pack (19-1, 6-1 Mountain West Conference).
J.D. Paige led the Rams (7-12, 2-4) with 18 points. Nico Carvacho had 11 points and 14 rebounds.
(At) No. 12 Marquette 79, DePaul 69: Markus Howard scored 13 of his 23 points in the final six minutes and Sam Hauser added 19 as Marquette held off DePaul to remain unbeaten at home. The Golden Eagles (17-3, 6-1 Big East) scored 17 of their final 23 points from the free throw line to improve to 14-0 at the new Fiserv Forum.
Theo John scored a career-high 16 points for Marquette, and Joey Hauser had 14. Paul Reed had 18 points for the Blue Demons (11-7, 3-4).
(At) No. 17 Houston 94, East Carolina 50: Armoni Brooks scored 17 points, Corey Davis Jr. added 12 and Houston hit 16 3-pointers against East Carolina. Brooks and Davis combined to hit nine 3s as the Cougars (19-1, 6-1 American Athletic Conference) finished 16 of 24 from behind the arc. Nate Hinton had 13 points, Cedrick Alley scored 12 and Fabian White Jr. had 11.
Houston, which won its fourth straight, shot 52 percent from the field while extending its home winning streak to 30 games. Seth Leday had 12 points for ECU (8-10, 1-5).
(At) No. 25 LSU 92, Georgia 82: Tremont Waters scored a season-high 26 points and LSU beat Georgia for its eighth straight victory. Skylar Mays matched his season best for the Tigers (15-3, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) with 20 points. Naz Reid had 15 and Ja’vonte Smart added 10.
Rayshaun Hammonds paced Georgia (9-9, 1-5) with 18 points. The Bulldogs dropped their fourth consecutive game.