Feb. 12, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Minnesota scored 19 points off 16 turnovers to hand the University of Iowa men’s basketball team a 64-59 defeat Thursday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Gophers used a 10-0 spurt late in the second half to take a 53-42 lead with 3:34 remaining. The Hawkeyes closed with a flurry, pulling to within a single possession game twice in the closing minute, but Minnesota held on to post its first Big Ten road victory of the season.
“Our defense was just OK tonight,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “It wasn’t good enough to win. It was good enough to be close, good enough to hang around, but not good enough to win.”
Facing a double-digit deficit late in the game, Iowa’s fought back.
Senior Aaron White’s started the rally with a three-point play that cut the lead to 55-47 with 2:38 remaining, and junior Jarrod Uthoff drained a 3-pointer at the 1:50 mark to make it a seven point game (57-50).
Down 59-52 with 1:16 left, sophomore Peter Jok made two free throws to cut it to five. Uthoff then blocked Maurice Walker in transition, stole an inbounds pass, and fed White for a fast-break dunk ignite the crowd and make it a three point game with 56 seconds to play.
The Hawkeyes elected to grind it out defensively, but Minnesota’s Andre Hollins drew a foul late in the shot clock and made both free throws to push the lead to five. Uthoff then capitalized on a Minnesota mistake when he made three free throws to cut the deficit to 61-59 with 20 seconds left.
After the Gophers’ Nate Mason made 1-of-2 free throws to make it a 62-59 game, junior Mike Gesell drove hard to the basket with 11 seconds remaining, but was stripped by Walker, who was then fouled. Walker made both free throws to send Minnesota to the 64-59 win.
“We had a lot of options for that play,” said Gesell. “One option was hitting Uthoff on the pick-and-pop, but they keyed on him. They got mixed up on the ball screen, so I thought there was enough time to try to take it in and get a quick two.
“The only thing different I would have done was take it more aggressively to the hoop and attack the big man. I think I made the right play, it just wasn’t the right outcome.”
“We trust Mike to make a play,” said McCaffery. “He got it to the front of the rim, but Walker made a nice play. He poked it from him.”
Iowa finished with a 42.9 field goal percentage, while Minnesota shot 40.4 percent. The Gophers made 6-of-19 3-point field goals; the Hawkeyes were 4-of-14. Iowa won the rebounding battle, 38-30, but turnovers were the difference. The Gophers forced 16, while committing just six, and had a 19-4 advantage in points off turnovers.
“We weren’t very good from the start, pretty much the whole game,” said White. “Give them credit; we weren’t shooting open shots over moving well. They played well, but I put a lot of it on us.”
Uthoff led a trio of Hawkeyes in double figures, finishing with 17 point and seven rebounds. Jok scored 16 on 5-of-10 shooting, and White added 13 to go along with eight rebounds.
Hollins led all scorers with 20 points to pace the Gophers. He made 6-of-14 field goals, including 4-of-8 3-pointers. Mason added 12 points, and Minnesota’s reserves out-scored Iowa’s counterparts, 20-9.
After trailing 23-19 at the break, Iowa fought back to tie the game at 28 on an Adam Woodbury jumper with 14:25 to play, and there were seven lead changes over the next four minutes. The game was still in the balance at the seven-minute mark when a Uthoff jumper trimmed the deficit to 43-42, but 3 1/2 minutes later, Iowa found itself facing its largest deficit of the game.
The Hawkeyes were fortunate to be down just four in the first half after committing 10 turnovers, shooting 35 percent from the floor, and enduring an 8:07 scoring drought.
Jok got Iowa off to a strong start, scoring seven of the team’s first 11 points. With Iowa leading 15-11, Minnesota followed with a 12-0 run to take a 23-15 lead. During the eight-plus minute scoring drought, the Hawkeyes committed seven turnovers and missed seven-straight field goal attempts.
The Hawkeyes came to life when senior Gabriel Olaseni blocked a Mason layup, which led to a run-out fast-break dunk from White. Uthoff then made a pair of free throws with 31 seconds left to cut the deficit to four points at the break.
Iowa (15-9, 6-5) has a short turnaround, as it heads to Evanston to face Northwestern on Sunday at 2 p.m. (CT).