IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa freshman Joe Wieskamp had something to prove after back-to-back bad showings.
The Hawkeyes’ newest star was brilliant on Wednesday night, a display that showed why he earned the starting spot he’s had since the opener.
Luka Garza scored 22 points, Wieskamp had a career-high 20 and 20th-ranked Iowa rolled Alabama State 105-78 on Wednesday night in its home debut as a ranked team.
Tyler Cook scored 16 points and Isaiah Moss added 15 for the Hawkeyes (5-0), who dismissed any notion of a letdown with 68 first-half points — their most under ninth-year coach Fran McCaffery.
“That’s a sign of maturity. I didn’t think we would come out, in any way, shape or form, and not be ready to play this game,” McCaffery said of his team’s fast start. “We took care of it.”
Iowa, which vaulted into the Top 25 on Monday after beating then-No. 13 Oregon and blowing out UConn in New York last week, scored the game’s first 12 points on its way to the rout.
Wieskamp, the reigning prep player of the year in Iowa, broke his previous career high of 15 points midway through the first half in helping the Hawkeyes stake out a 30-11 lead — after combining for just five points against the Ducks and Huskies.
“He was really aggressive, and that’s what we want him to be,” McCaffery said of Wieskamp, perhaps his highest-ranked recruit. “He puts it on the deck, he shoots the 3, he’s aggressive on the glass. Incredibly versatile.”
The Hawkeyes pulled Wieskamp and the rest of the starters with 14 minutes to go, content to cruise to their fifth straight win.
“Right after we got back I was in the gym working. It bothered me a bit to struggle, but I thought I did good things defensively to help our team win,” Wieskamp said. “I know what I’m capable offensively.”
Reginald Gee had 16 points to lead Alabama State (2-3).
THE BIG PICTURE:
Iowa: It’s been five games and Iowa continues to look like a brand-new team despite returning nearly everyone from last year’s 14-19 debacle of a season. The Hawks’ flow is better on both ends of the floor, and Garza continues his quiet push toward becoming one of the nation’s best big men.
Alabama State: The Hornets won’t play another home game until January 5. It looks like it’ll be a long five weeks.
Garza and Wieskamp combined to make 14 of 15 shots, with Garza shooting 8 for 8. …Iowa didn’t need much from Jordan Bohannon. The junior, who entered play averaging 12 points a game, didn’t score. …Walk-on Austin Ash got the crowd going by draining a late 3 for his first career bucket. … Connor McCaffery had nine points and seven assists in just 13 minutes.
This is the earliest Iowa has been ranked in a season since Nov. 14, 2005. That team, coached by Steve Alford, won the Big Ten tournament before being stunned by 14th-seeded Northwestern State in the opening round of the NCAAs. …The last time the Hawkeyes were ranked was in the final poll of 2016. They were 25th.
Iowa hosts Pittsburgh in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Nov. 27.
Alabama State plays at Akron on Nov. 28.