IOWA CITY, Ia. — While two of the best centers in the Big Ten Conference tangled inside, Joe Wieskamp provided the difference in Iowa's 72-52 victory over Minnesota on Monday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Wieskamp hit a 3-pointer to start each half. He sank a season-high five in all.
But it was his electrifying play midway through the second half that signaled the Hawkeyes were not going to be denied in their Big Ten home opener.
The Gophers had scored seven consecutive points to cut Iowa's lead to 55-45 and Tre' Williams appeared to have enough room at the 3-point arc to make things really interesting.
Wieskamp raced out to block Williams' shot, gathered the basketball and headed downcourt for a resounding dunk, swinging from the rim while the fans rose to their feet.
Minnesota never threatened again.
Wieskamp finished with a season-high 23 points.
Luka Garza, the Iowa half of that entertaining battle at center, scored 21 points with 10 rebounds in another impressive showing.
Hawkeyes guard Jordan Bohannon didn't score a point, but had 10 assists and five defensive rebounds.
Iowa (7-3, 1-1 Big Ten) came out intent on getting Wieskamp involved. He responded. Wieskamp made his first three 3-pointers and had 11 of the team’s first 13 points. By halftime, he had matched a season-high with 16 points and Iowa led 37-29.
The marquee matchup was at center, where Garza entered play leading the Big Ten in scoring at 22.7 points per game. Minnesota (4-5, 0-1) countered with Daniel Oturu, the league’s top rebounder at 10.9 per game.
Oturu made all five of his shots in the first half to lead the Gophers with 11 points. He added five rebounds and three blocked shots. Garza had seven points and six rebounds at intermission, uncharacteristically missing six of his nine field-goal attempts.
Oturu finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds, but also committed eight turnovers.
Iowa had surrendered 103 points to Michigan in its last game Friday. On Monday, the Hawkeyes harassed Minnesota perimeter players. The Gophers’ three starting guards were a combined 1-for-16 from the floor in the first half.
Iowa next plays at Iowa State at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Mark Emmert covers the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Register. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 319-339-7367. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkEmmert.
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