IOWA CITY, Ia. — It wasn’t the native Iowans who carried the Hawkeyes to a men’s basketball victory over Iowa State on Thursday, although they certainly did their share.
No, it was Isaiah Moss of Chicago and Tyler Cook of St. Louis who pushed No. 19 Iowa across the finish line in a scrappy 98-84 victory that was the perfect way to snap a two-game losing streak.
Moss has had great stretches of play in his three-year career, but never a complete half like he did in the opening 20 minutes before 13,414 fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
As for Cook, he merely said afterward that he felt like no Cyclone could guard him on this night. And he had a point. Actually, he had 26 of them.
Moss had only played more than 20 minutes in a game once this season. He played all 20 in the first half Thursday and gave the Hawkeyes exactly what they needed.
There were four 3-pointers, three more drives, four defensive rebounds. Moss had 18 points at halftime as Iowa (7-2) built a 45-38 lead.
“He’s got that in him. He’s had games like that. I just told him to get your swag back,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
Moss obviously listened.
Cook an unstoppable force
The Hawkeyes made four mistakes early when trying to force-feed Cook in the post. Cook wasn’t open, and the passes were well off-target.
But eventually it became clear why Iowa was so intent on making their 6-foot-9 power forward the focal point of the offense. Iowa State (7-2) had no one who could body up with the junior. Cook was decisive when he got the ball, spinning for hook shots, layups, dunks, whatever got the job done.
Iowa forward Tyler Cook racked up 26 points and 11 rebounds in a 98-84 win against Iowa State. Hawk Central
Cook also was there to clean up missed shots by his teammates. Three times, he raced in to corral rebounds and quickly convert putbacks. That’s what Cook did just before the first half clock expired, dunking a Jordan Bohannon miss.
Cook finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds and one huge smile walking off the court.
This is his team and he led it perfectly Thursday.
“I just really wanted to focus on running, posting … so they couldn’t double-team me,” Cook said.
Did he feel like any Cyclone could guard him?
“No,” Cook said with a chuckle. “That’s not any disrespect. But that’s my mindset going into every game. … It’s a lot of fun. I try not to take any game for granted, whether it goes good or bad.”
This one couldn’t have gone better.
Big-shot Nicholas Baer
Cook and Moss couldn’t carry all the scoring load for Iowa. They had 33 of the team’s 45 first-half points.
Nicholas Baer got the memo. The team’s lone senior sank his first three 3-pointers in the second half, each of them seemingly a larger dagger than the previous. He finished with 14 points.
Iowa forward Nicholas Baer had a magnificent shooting night against Iowa State. Hear why he thinks he's playing well lately: Hawk Central
Baer has made nine of his past 15 3-pointers. And the Bettendorf native was ecstatic to go out a winner in his final Cy-Hawk tussle.
“It’s great coming out here and being able to put together the performance we did, especially after the week we had,” Baer said, referencing back-to-back losses to Wisconsin and Michigan State. “I’m really glad we’re on the upswing now.”
Wieskamp's ankle is A-OK
The story angle of the week was Joe Wieskamp’s ankle. The Hawkeye freshman forward sprained it Monday at Michigan State and seemed unlikely to play as of Wednesday.
Wieskamp was back in the starting lineup as usual, though, much to the delight of the home crowd. He turned the ball over the first time he touched it but provided some tough-nosed play early in the second half.
Wieskamp muscled in a layup on an inbounds play and then grabbed an offensive rebound and made a beautiful bounce pass to Cook for a layup.
Late in the half, Wieskamp rose for a dunk to finish a fast break. Yeah, the ankle is fine.
“Earlier in the day, I thought I was not going to be able to play. As the day progressed, my ankle started feeling a lot better,” Wieskamp said.
He said the ankle didn’t bother him at all.
“The adrenaline. Took some pain meds before the game. So I felt pretty good,” said Wieskamp, a Muscatine native playing in his first Cy-Hawk game.
“I’ve dreamt about playing this game ever since I committed (as a freshman to Iowa). When I injured my ankle against Michigan State, I was pretty upset knowing that I’d most likely have to sit out this one. But to be able to play in it and get the win, it’s pretty exciting.”
Iowa next faces Northern Iowa in Des Moines on Dec. 15.