Dec. 22, 2014
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team held off a pesky North Florida squad to close out its nonconference schedule with an 80-70 victory Monday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“We knew North Florida wouldn’t go away,” said senior Aaron White of an Osprey squad that beat Purdue, lost by two at Northwestern and went toe-to-toe with Florida State. “They make shots and stay in the game. They weren’t going to go away, we had to put them away, and we did that with a couple of runs.”
The Hawkeyes took a 44-31 lead into the locker room before the Ospreys held Iowa without a field goal over the first 4 1/2 minutes of the second half, using a 12-3 run to cut the lead to 48-43 and force an Iowa timeout.
After trading field goals, Iowa reeled off seven straight points off two Gabriel Olaseni free throws, a Josh Oglesby 3-pointer and a steal and dunk from Mike Gesell to take a 57-45 with 13:34 to play.
White’s dunk at the 10:30 mark — which gave him 1,500 points for his career — pushed the Iowa lead to 61-48 before the Ospreys had one final spurt, scoring eight-straight points to trim the deficit to 61-56 with 8:27 to play.
The Hawkeyes landed the final counter (and knockout) punch, scoring nine-straight to put the game away. White pushed the lead to nine with a dunk, a Gesell steal led to a Jarrod Uthoff 3-pointer in transition that stretched the lead to 12 and two White free throws opened a 70-56 lead with 6:30 to play.
North Florida cut the deficit to eight points with just under one minute remaining on a Dallas Moore 3-pointer — the Ospreys’ 12th 3-pointer of the game — but Iowa held on for the 10-point victory, its ninth win of the season.
“Usually if a team makes 12 3-pointers, you aren’t winning,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “We out-rebounded them, turned them over 20 times and shared the ball. (We had) a lot of guys who stepped up.”
White led all scorers with 23 points, which came on a 7-of-15 performance from the floor and an 8-for-8 effort from the free throw line. He was also active defensively, tallying five steals and grabbing nine rebounds.
“White’s energy level was the difference in the game,” said McCaffery. “He was all over the glass, all over the floor.”
Sophomore Peter Jok scored 12 points in his first career start, Gesell had 12 points and three assists, and Uthoff posted a double-double, finishing with 10 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists. Oglesby broke out of a shooting slump, going 3-for-4 from the field — all on 3-pointers — en route to nine points.
The Hawkeyes shot 38.3 percent from the floor and went 8-of-20 from 3-point range. North Florida had a higher field goal percentage, making 26-of-57 attempts (45.6 percent) and made 12-of-26 3-pointers (46.2 percent), but. the game was won at the free throw stripe, where Iowa made 26-of-28 attempts; UNF was 6-of-7. Iowa also forced 20 UNF turnovers.
“We wanted to throw it inside, drive the ball, and get to the free throw line,” said McCaffery. “We try to be outstanding there every night in terms of getting there, but you don’t always go 26-for-28.”
North Florida’s Trent Mackey paced the Ospreys with 18 points, making 6-of-8 3-point field goals — all of which came in the first half. Beau Beech scored 17 on 6-of-16 shooting with three 3-pointers.
The Hawkeyes used an aggressive offensive first half to build a 44-31 lead at the break. After falling behind 6-3 early, Iowa used a 10-3 run, capped off by an Oglesby 3-pointer to build a 13-6 lead five minutes in.
North Florida used the 3-ball to stay competitive. Mackey’s 3-ball at the 15:01 mark ended the Iowa spurt and his fourth 3-pointer cut the deficit to 17-15 with 11:14 remaining. Iowa responded with an 11-2 run courtesy of 3-pointers from Uthoff, White, and Jok to push the Hawkeye advantage to 28-17.
After the Ospreys cut the lead to 28-23 on a Romelo Banks jumper, Oglesby drained a 3-pointer to open a 7-0 run, leading the Hawkeyes to a 13-point halftime advantage. North Florida made 7-of-13 first-half 3-pointers.
The Hawkeyes (9-4) will now have seven days off before opening Big Ten play on the road at Ohio State on Dec. 30.