IOWA CITY — There were times in its season opener Thursday night when the Iowa basketball team played exactly the sort of hard-nosed, in-your-face defense that Fran McCaffery was hoping to see.
There were fewer times when they showed the sort of offensive efficiency he has come to expect.
And then there were times in which the Hawkeyes did so many things wrong that the exasperation was clearly visible in their head coach. Like just a minute and 48 seconds into the second half when he removed his entire starting lineup en masse and angrily plopped them on the bench.
"There was a point there where we were playing with no swag at all," McCaffery said.
It all turned out fine in the end as the Hawkeyes, led by Muscatine freshman Joe Wieskamp, ground out a 77-63 victory over UMKC at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Wieskamp scored 15 points in his college debut, including four 3-point field goals in the first half and a flying dunk off an offensive rebound in the second half.
McCaffery praised the way Wieskamp played at both ends of the court, pointing to his tough, physical defense as much as his scoring.
"I’m very happy for him," McCaffery said. "I know he’s satisfied with what he’s done but you can tell there’s a lot more in there."
Three of his 3-pointers came out of the left corner in situations in which the smaller Kangaroos were trying to avoid getting beat inside.
"They were doubling (Tyler Cook) in the post, showing a lot of attention to he and Luka (Garza) because we were a lot bigger in there," Wieskamp said. "They were able to get it to me in the corner, and I was able to knock it down."
Iowa didn’t really take control of the game until the early stages of the second half when its bench came in and picked up the energy.
The Hawkeyes shot very poorly in the first half, hitting at a 32-percent clip while launching more than twice as many 3-point attempts (17) as they did from inside the arc (8).
"I thought we had an advantage in the post that we could exploit, and we were jacking 3s …," McCaffery said. "You can’t be settling for 3s when a team is up and in your face the way these guys were."
The Hawkeyes finally opened a decent lead with a 17-3 scoring run that was mostly defense. The surge began with a pair of Wieskamp 3-pointers, and the visiting Kangaroos then missed eight consecutive shots with Ryan Kriener very often being the Iowa player who was there to pluck the rebound.
A string of seven made free throws by the Hawkeyes — four by Maishe Dailey — pushed the lead to 34-23 before UMKC’s Xavier Bishop banked in a 3-pointer at the halftime horn.
The Hawkeyes were very sloppy with the ball at the start of the second half, committing three quick turnovers. UMKC sliced it to 35-33 on a layup by Bishop, and McCaffery called timeout with 18:12 to go, removing all five starters.
"I would have liked to have played a little better at the start of the second half," McCaffery said. "I think that was obvious by the wholesale changes I made. But that second group came in and picked us up."
Connor McCaffery got a 3-point play, Nicholas Baer got a couple of steals, Dailey hit a 3 off a pass from Cordell Pemsl, Kriener made some big plays inside, and the lead began to grow again.
"We felt like we got hit in the mouth in that first half, and we had to step up the intensity," Dailey said.
"The second unit was great today," added Cook, who finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and a team-high five assists. "They came in and gave us a lot of energy. Our first unit didn’t have it. … Those guys went on a run and got stops, picked up the energy and allowed us to come in and finish it off."
Jordan Bohannon added 12 points for the Hawkeyes with Dailey adding 11. Kriener collected eight rebounds.
McCaffery admitted to being a bit dismayed by the fact that his team had more turnovers (16) than assists (15), and the Hawkeyes only shot 44.7 percent from the field.
"We kind of joked around about it in the locker room," Kriener said. "This was the first time in a little bit that offense has been our problem. Our offense was a little stagnant, and our defense held us in there. We were all really proud about that."