The Iowa basketball team defeated the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Wednesday thanks to a heroic performance from Joe Wieskamp.
If the Iowa Hawkeyes (14-6) wanted to be taken seriously the rest of the season, they needed to defeat a top 25 opponent in No. 25 Rutgers (11-7) at home on Wednesday night.
The Hawkeyes won convincingly, 79-66, but not before a near comeback attempt by the Scarlet Knights late in the second half. Rutgers cut Iowa’s lead to six with 9:17 remaining.
If not for a heroic performance from junior forward Joe Wieskamp, Iowa may not have been able to hold on to what was a double-digit lead nearly the entire second half.
Wieskamp scored a season-high 26 points (9-of-14 shooting) to lead all scorers while adding 10 rebounds. He was one of two Hawkeyes to record a double-double on Wednesday. Luka Garza, (22 points, 10 rebounds) was the other.
After losing four of five games, the Hawkeyes fell out of the AP top 25 for the first time all season this week. Iowa entered Wednesday’s contest against Rutgers as the No. 15 team in the nation, and was generously favored by 6.5 points. Rutgers entered riding a four-game winning streak.
Of course, the return of starting guard C.J. Fredrick helped Iowa’s offense get back into a rhythm, but a red-hot Wieskamp was the biggest reason for Iowa’s success. As a team, the Hawkeyes were 11-of-23 from beyond the arc. Wieskamp was 5-of-7. He scored 12 of Iowa’s first 15 points and never looked back.
A convincing win over a ranked Big Ten foe was exactly what Iowa needed to gain its confidence back. After blowing double-digit leads the last three games, the Hawkeyes were able to close out a formidable opponent.
Up next, the Hawkeyes travel to Michigan State on Saturday for a mid-day game against the Spartans. We’ll see if Wieskamp can continue his impressive form against a stingy State defense.