IOWA CITY, Iowa — A 22-point loss at Michigan State left many wondering if the 18th-ranked Hawkeyes were for real.
Iowa answered its critics on Thursday night by stomping archrival Iowa State — almost literally — to snap a two-game losing streak.
Tyler Cook had 26 points and 11 rebounds, Isaiah Moss added 20 points and the Hawkeyes cruised to a 98-84 victory in a game marked by skirmishes in the first half and after the whistle.
Nicholas Baer had 11 of his 14 points in the second half for the Hawkeyes (7-2), who shot 57.4 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Cyclones 44-24.
“We wanted to establish our running game. We wanted to establish our ability to move the ball, and get a lot of people involved — and then we had to rebound,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
Iowa took control with a 16-2 run late in the first half, and the Hawkeyes pushed their lead to 63-47 on Baer’s 3-pointer early in the second half. Baer, who finished 4 of 5 from beyond the arc, then buried another 3 to make it 68-49.
Freshman Talen Horton-Tucker briefly pulled the Cyclones (7-2) within eight with 6:05 left, but Iowa responded with eight quick points to put the game out of reach.
Horton-Tucker scored 21 points and Marial Shayok had 19 for Iowa State, which had won its previous four games.
“We missed some bunnies. We could have scored 90. But you can’t give up 98 and win on the road anywhere,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said.
Iowa junior Cordell Pemsl, who had planned to redshirt this season, made a surprise return to the lineup and had eight points and six boards off the bench. Freshman Joe Wieskamp also played after spraining his ankle in Monday’s 90-68 loss at Michigan State and had seven points.
THE BIG PICTURE
Iowa: Pemsl had been bothered in the offseason by a knee injury he sustained in high school, and the Hawkeyes announced late last month that he would have to have surgery to remove hardware around that knee before he could play again. But Pemsl decided to practice on Tuesday, and felt good enough to go. “There’s nothing structurally wrong with my leg,” Pemsl said. “I’m allowed to play (if the pain) is tolerable.”
Iowa State: Iowa State sophomore star Lindell Wigginton has been out since the second game of the season with a strained foot. The Cyclones really could have used his ability to break down a defense for easy buckets, especially during Iowa’s big run in the first half.
Late in the first half, Connor McCaffery — the son of coach Fran McCaffery — and Iowa State’s Michael Jacobson started yelling at each other. Pemsl ran over and shoved Jacobson, who then shoved Pemsl back. Iowa State got two shots and the ball once the officials sorted it all out, but all the Cyclones could do with it was a free throw and a shot clock violation. The teams got into another mini-skirmish after the final whistle, forcing Fran McCaffery to drag Cook off the court. “It was a spirited game from the beginning, and that’s what you expect,” Fran McCaffery said. “Wish it didn’t happen.”
Iowa looked as if it might be headed out of the poll after that decisive defeat against the Spartans. But what the Hawkeyes did to Iowa State, which could have been ranked come Monday with a win, might be enough for them to stay in the Top 25.
HE SAID IT
“I apologize to Iowa and the staff. I didn’t represent those moments the right way. I apologize. Right is right, and I was wrong and I apologize for that,” Prohm said. “It got chippy at the end. But we should have played better. We should have played harder.”