Leistikow: Thoughts about the game portion of Iowa's loss at Ohio State

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Fran McCaffery’s reported vulgar tirade that accused a Big Ten Conference referee of cheating became a national talking point after Iowa’s 90-70 loss.

But considering 90 percent of what I wrote after the game was about that incident, here’s some actual basketball stuff worth digesting — if you have the stomach.

Hey, let’s start with a few positives. No. 1? Joe Wieskamp.

The 6-foot-6 freshman is a player. It’s too bad his back has been balky of late. Usually when he’s good, the Hawkeyes are really good.

But unfortunately for Iowa on this night, he was one of the few good ones. In fact, he was the only starter spared when McCaffery called timeout early in the second half and subbed in four fresh reserves.

The reason for the change?

“Effort,” McCaffery said.

(Or lack thereof.)

Joe Wieskamp drives against Ohio State big man Kaleb Wesson during their game Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. Wieskamp  scored 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting to lead the Hawkeyes in a 90-70 loss.

But Wieskamp stayed out there. He was good. Despite missing more than 12 minutes in the first half (he picked up two fouls), Wieskamp was Iowa’s best player and leading scorer, with 17 points. He canned 5 of 6 tries from 3-point range; the rest of the Hawkeyes make 1 of 13.

“I was confident in my shot every time,” Wieskamp said. “It was just going in.”

This was a quietly big development in an Iowa loss. Wieskamp was 1-for-9 from 3-point range in Iowa’s previous three games — his lone make the desperation game-winner against Rutgers. He had scored a total of seven points in Iowa’s last two games. Very uncharacteristic.

“It was big for my confidence. I’ve been struggling a little bit, the past couple games, scoring it,” Wieskamp said. “To see the ball go in, especially that first shot, kind of got me going. I tried to stay aggressive the whole game.”

The only thing Wieskamp did wrong Tuesday night? He should've shot more in his 25 minutes.

More on Iowa vs. Ohio State:

Maishe Dailey opens some eyes

Maishe Dailey isn’t often requested for postgame interviews, but he was Tuesday after being a bright spot on an otherwise disappointing Hawkeye night.

Dailey, a sub who rarely shoots and is primarily used for defense because of his length as a 6-foot-7 guard, earned 15 minutes on the court and scored eight points on 3-of-4 shooting. He was averaging 1.9 in Big Ten play.

Dailey opened eyes with his two high-flying, acrobatic lay-ups that dropped in a first-half run that pushed Iowa’s lead to 31-25.

“I just wanted to come into the game and be aggressive,” Dailey said.

The Columbus metro area has 2 million-plus people, but only one major professional team.

Hence, the sports-crazed town obsesses about the Buckeyes. On one of the many radio shows centered around Ohio State sports, there was a debate Tuesday about whether the Buckeyes could reach 40 percent shooting against Iowa. Ohio State had been below that meager threshold in three of its last four games, and was held to 37.3 percent in a Jan. 12 loss in Iowa City.

But by the game’s end, Ohio State media were saying this was perhaps the team’s most impressive performance of the season. The Buckeyes shot 48.3 percent from the floor and 91.7 percent from the foul line (22 of 24) and scored more points than they had in any Big Ten game since Jan. 11, 2018.

During one stretch of 10½ minutes that spanned both halves, Ohio State scored 37 points.

“It just got out of hand, quick,” Dailey said.

Ohio State freshman Justin Ahrens had scored 30 points in conference games all season.

Until Tuesday, when he scored 29.

The career night from the left-handed 3-point shooter was fueled by 25 second-half points on 6-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.

“I hadn’t really played all year,” Ahrens said, “so they probably didn’t have the scouting report.”

Fran McCaffery said he was aware of Ahrens; backup guard Connor McCaffery said Ahrens was indeed on the scouting report but obviously wasn’t a major priority.

“The guy’s a shooter. He was open too much,” Fran McCaffery said. “Give him credit: He made six, that’s pretty impressive.”

Ohio State 's C.J. Jackson battles for the ball with Iowa's Jordan Bohannon (3) during their game Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio.

It wasn’t Jordan Bohannon’s night.

I thought one of the biggest turning points of the game was when Iowa was leading, 31-25, and Bohannon stepped into a wide-open (albeit deep) 3-pointer … and misfired. Bohannon doesn’t miss too often when he is uncontested.

For the night, he was shut out from 3-point range (0-for-5) for just the third time in Big Ten play and was a team-worst minus-21. Backcourt mate Isaiah Moss was held without a field goal and was minus-14.

“We know that we’re going to be just fine moving forward. We know Jordan and Isaiah aren’t going to shoot like that, upcoming,” Wieskamp said. “Luka (Garza, who had six points) is going to bounce back strong and be aggressive when he gets back out there.”’

McCaffery’s tirade aside, this wasn’t a bad loss for Iowa.

It didn’t look good. But Ohio State is an NCAA Tournament worthy team. The Hawkeyes are still 21-7 overall, 10-7 in Big Ten play and have a two-game lead on the seventh-place Buckeyes (18-10, 8-9).

Iowa dropped two spots, from 30 to 32, in the NCAA NET rankings. Ohio State moved from 42 to 40. Not as big a movement as it would be if Iowa loses a Quadrant 3 home game Saturday against Rutgers.

Hawkeyes columnist Chad Leistikow has covered sports for 24 years with The Des Moines Register, USA TODAY and Iowa City Press-Citizen. Follow @ChadLeistikow on Twitter.