After-thoughts from Iowa’s 73-63 victory over Northwestern:
--Joe Wieskamp has scored more points than this before, but this almost certainly was the best game of his college career so far when you consider the circumstances and the opposition. With Tyler Cook sidelined by a knee injury and playing on the road, where the Hawkeyes have struggled, Wieskamp delivered in a big way Wednesday. When the Hawkeyes fell behind by seven points early in the second half, he scored 10 points in a 14-2 scoring run and managed to get Northwestern’s best player, Vic Law, in serious foul trouble. Included was a 3-pointer from the top of the key, a backdoor layup and two drives to the hoop, one of which resulted in a 3-point play. He finished with 19 points and seven rebounds.
--Luka Garza greeted the media following the game displaying his latest injury. He was not wearing a shoe or sock on his right foot because trainers had just gotten done repairing a split toenail. The 6-foot-11 sophomore looked almost completely healthy in the game, though, as he scored 16 points in 26 minutes in his second game back after missing three games with a sprained ankle. “There still are some little things but once the adrenaline kicks in, I didn’t feel anything,’’ Garza said.
--Garza thoroughly outplayed Northwestern senior Dererk Pardon, who came into the game averaging 13.9 points per game. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery told Garza at halftime that he wanted him to just relentlessly attack Pardon and get him in foul trouble, and that’s exactly how it played out. Pardon fouled out with just six points.
--McCaffery sometimes has been reluctant to call timeouts when opposing teams are going on big runs against his team, but he called a really good one early in the second half after Northwestern had forged a 41-35 lead. He reminded his players what he wanted them to do and they outscored Northwestern 38-22 the rest of the way.
--Some of us noticed that Cook had an ice pack on his right knee after some recent games and he left the arena that way again Wednesday. He also has been noticeably late coming out for pregame warm-ups in several recent games. We didn't think much of it at the time but it all makes sense now. This isn’t some injury that just suddenly popped up. He’s been dealing with it for awhile.
--One possible side benefit of not having Cook in the lineup: Fewer turnovers. The Hawkeyes finished the game with only seven, one more that the season low they had against Savannah State. Cook has more than twice as many turnovers as any other player on the team for the season.
--One of the best postgame quotes came from the freshman, Wieskamp: “We know if we want to be playing in March, this is the kind of game we need to win.’’ He’s exactly right.
--An unsung hero of the game, as often is the case, was senior Nicholas Baer. He returned to the starting lineup with Cook out, and produced nine points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals.
--Northwestern has more athletic players on its roster than it usually has in the past, but the Wildcats aren’t a great shooting team. They came into game 11th in the Big Ten in both field goal percentage and 3-point percentage, and they had three stretches Wednesday in which they missed at least five shots in a row. The Hawkeyes gave them a lot of open looks from the perimeter, more or less daring them to shoot. It worked.