With 11:47 remaining in No. 18 Iowa’s 22-point loss to No. 10 Michigan State on Monday, freshman sensation Joe Wieskamp went down with an ankle injury.
Spartan Joshua Langford dribbled baseline and slipped a pass to Xavier Tillman, who was fouled. Right as Langford passed the ball, though, Wieskamp rolled his ankle, and he was unable to walk off the court on his own power.
Iowa, hosting in-state rival Iowa State at 7 p.m. today, needs all the help it can get in an attempt to dig itself out of a two-game losing streak. That help, though, might not include the Muscatine native, who did not practice Tuesday.
“Yeah, [he’s] getting better,” head coach Fran McCaffery said during his weekly press conference. “Just there isn’t a lot of time between games. Would be better if there was a little more time … it’s not broken, so that’s good news.”
If Wieskamp can’t go for Iowa, the Hawkeyes will likely turn to Nicholas Baer to fill that starting void, McCaffery said.
Baer, a redshirt senior, averages 6.5 points, 4.6 rebounds (1.1 offensive), 1 steal, and nearly 1 block per game through eight contests. His points-per-game mark is on pace for the second-best in his Hawkeye career.
Against Pittsburgh — Iowa’s last win — Baer seemingly willed the Hawkeyes to win, essentially putting the Black and Gold on his back in the second half. Baer dropped a season-high 16 points, hitting 3 of his 5 3-point attempts, and also drained a pair of clutch free throws with under a minute remaining in the game.
Although he’s come off the bench for the most part of his time as a Hawkeye, Baer started 17 games last year, so he’s no stranger to the starting spotlight.
“We’re still optimistic that Joe can come back,” Baer said. “We’ll see, our training staff will monitor his ankle and everything. If he’s not able to, I’ll be ready to step up. It’s kind of been our M.O. all season — next guy in.”
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Baer has shown the ability to take over games, and if Wieskamp doesn’t play, the Hawkeyes will need a solid shooting outing from him, because Iowa State can burn Iowa in more ways than one.
The Cyclones have four scorers averaging 11 points or more, and all four shoot 30 percent or better from beyond the 3-point arc.
Marial Shayok, a transfer from Virginia, leads Iowa State in scoring, netting 19.4 points per game in his best season of his career (He never averaged more than 8.9 points per game with the Cavaliers).
The Cyclones also have Michael Jacobson, a Waukee native, whom the Hawkeyes squared off against when he played his first two seasons of college hoops at Nebraska. Much like Shayok, Jacobson is having a career year (16.8 points and 8 rebounds per game).
“They’ve got a lot of weapons,” McCaffery said. “But when you have that many weapons, you’ve got some freshmen, you’ve got transfers, they play together. Jacobson has looked really good, Shayok has been terrific, [Talen] Horton-Tucker, [Nick] Weiler-Babb has always been really solid.”
Iowa can’t afford to go back to its “old ways,” much as it did against Michigan State, as Jordan Bohannon pointed out.
“I think we had a little more [defensive lapses] than normal,” Bohannon said about Iowa’s loss in East Lansing. “Our offense needs some work, and that’s what we’ve been doing.”
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