No. 14 Iowa holds on, hands Pitt 1st loss
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The first five games were a relative breeze for the 14th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes, who unexpectedly jumped into the Top 25 after an impressive trip to New York.
Rebuilding Pitt reminded Iowa that things typically aren’t so easy against fellow high-major teams — even ones that didn’t win a conference game last season.
Freshman guard Joe Wieskamp had 18 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double, Nicholas Baer scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half and the Hawkeyes held on 69-68 on Tuesday night for their third win over a power program this month.
Jordan Bohannon had 12 points and six steals for the Hawkeyes (6-0), who also took down Oregon and Connecticut at the 2K Classic two weeks ago in New York.
“It certainly wasn’t a thing of beauty by any means. But that’s how games are sometimes,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
A lot of that had to do with Pitt (6-1), which went 0-18 in the ACC in 2017-18.
“I see a lot of signs of encouragement. But I’m not happy we lost,” coach Jeff Capel said.
The Panthers put themselves in position for the upset — only to miss two shots in the final 10.4 seconds that would’ve given them the win.
Iowa’s Tyler Cook grabbed the rebound of a missed 3-pointer by Connor McCaffery — only to brick both ensuing free throws. Trey McGowens and Sidy N’Dir each had chances for the winning shot, with Iowa only securing the victory when N’Dir’s desperate turnaround jumper in the paint went awry.
“We were trying to get the ball to the basket,” Capel said. “Maybe get a foul, put some pressure on the defense and just make a play.”
A pair of crucial 3s by Baer helped Iowa jump ahead 64-62, capping a stretch of 11 straight points for the senior. But Kene Chukwuka pulled Pitt to 67-66 on an underneath bucket with 1:09 to go.
Freshman guard Xavier Johnson had 18 points to lead the Panthers, who face Duquesne in the City Game on Friday.
The Panthers have to be more than a little optimistic after their first performance on the road. They shot 61.3 percent in the first half at a venue they’ve never played in before and knocked Iowa’s potent offense off its rhythm for much of the night.