IOWA CITY — It has been awhile since the fans in Carver-Hawkeye Arena had a reason to storm the court following a game.
On Friday night, their basketball team gave them one.
The Hawkeyes frequently shredded what many consider the best defensive team in the country, got huge plays from Joe Wieskamp, Luke Garza and Ryan Kriener and finally got the signature win their fans have been craving as they rolled to a 74-59 conquest of No. 5-ranked Michigan.
When it was over, the sellout crowd couldn’t help itself. The fans flooded onto the court and buried their team in unrestrained joy.
"As a coach, that’s what it’s all about," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "You want them to enjoy that kind of jubilation together."
Garza continued his torrid stretch of scoring by tossing in 15 of his 19 points in the second half. Wieskamp scored 16 points and had five steals to spearhead the first-half charge. And Kriener filled in admirably in the first half when Garza was in foul trouble, finishing with his first career double-double — 15 points and 10 rebounds.
"My first double-double, the court-storming, a big win," Kriener said. "It’s another one of those things that you dream about as a kid out in the driveway."
The Hawkeyes (17-5, 6-5 Big Ten) not only handled a team that had won 34 of its previous 36 games dating back to last February, but they made it look easy at times.
Michigan coach John Beilein seemed to be one of the least surprised people about that.
"I saw it on film and I saw it coming last year," he said, adding that he was astonished that more experts didn’t peg the Hawkeyes as a team to watch this season.
"Iowa is just a really good team," he added. "We got beat by a really good team."
Michigan (20-2, 9-2 Big Ten) got an early burst from star freshman Ignas Brazdeikis and had a modest early lead before Kriener came off the bench to spark a rally that was mostly the work of the Hawkeyes’ own marquee freshman.
Wieskamp scored off a steal, drove to the hoop for two more points, then got a dunk off a pass from Nicholas Baer. The former Muscatine star scored again on a conventional 3-point play, and when Baer drilled a 3-pointer, Iowa had assembled a 21-2 run and taken a 33-19 lead.
Beilein twice called timeout during the binge, but the Wolverines, who hadn’t given up more than 36 points in the first half all season, ended up trailing the Hawkeyes 42-29 at the break.
The visitors chipped away at the lead in the second half, trimming the margin to 54-49 with just under 10 minutes remaining.
That’s when Garza took matters into his own hands.
"My mindset was when I was sitting on the bench for 13 minutes (in the first half) that when I get back out there I’m going to do whatever I need to to help my team," Garza said.
He tossed in eight points in a 13-2 blast that pretty much finished off the Wolverines. Included in that run was a driving three-point play by Wieskamp in which the 6-foot-6 freshman got off his shot over 7-1 Jon Teske.
Teske was in foul trouble all night and played only 13 minutes before fouling out.
Brazdeikis and Jordan Poole led Michigan with 16 points apiece but Brazdeikis had only four in the last 30 minutes of the contest.
The Hawkeyes outrebounded the Wolverines 48-36, including a 26-12 advantage in the first half.
"That’s a big difference in the game right there," Wieskamp said. "We didn’t let them get second-chance opportunities."
Beilein was most impressed with the way the Hawkeyes constantly changed defenses, keeping his team confused about how to attack.
"We didn’t get many good looks," he said. "They were really on us. … Even when we did get good looks, they didn’t go in."
It was a vast improvement from Sunday’s loss to Minnesota, in which the Hawkeyes gave up 55 points in the first half.
"This is a really big game because we just dropped two in a row," Kriener said. “We thought we had Michigan State (in an 82-67 loss last week). We had that really bad run and everyone was saying ‘Last year’s team, last year’s team.’ Then we go and play Minnesota and have a bad game defensively, and everyone is saying ‘Last year’s team, last year’s team.’
"When everyone was saying that we really locked in."
McCaffery said the key now is for the Hawkeyes to play this way more frequently than they have in an up-and-down conference season.
"They’re a top-five team for a reason," he said of Michigan. "They’re projected to be a No. 1 seed. They still could be. We have to recognize what we just did and continue to do that because the next one will be just as difficult."
"This is how we have to play," Garza added. "We like the feeling of this. We’ve had a couple of big wins this year and we want to keep doing that."