Feb. 19, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Rutgers first trip to Mediacom Court is one it will want to soon forget.
The University of Iowa men’s basketball team coasted to its seventh Big Ten win, downing the Scarlet Knights, 81-47, on Thursday night inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The 34-point win is the largest by a Fran McCaffery coached Hawkeye team in a Big Ten contest.
“This is a confidence-booster for us,” said junior Jarrod Uthoff. “Rutgers isn’t bad, so to beat them by that (margin) says something. Hopefully this will get us back on track and we can win six in a row (to close out the regular season).”
Iowa used a pair of 9-0 runs early in the first half to turn a 5-5 tie into a 23-8 lead at the 11:52 mark. The Hawkeyes led by double digits the rest of the way.
Junior Jarrod Uthoff started the first run with a 3-pointer before sophomore Peter Jok hooked up with senior Aaron White for an alley-oop dunk to make the score 10-5. Woodbury followed with a thunderous two-handed slam — his second dunk of the game.
After Myles Mack made a long 3-pointer to cut the lead to 14-8, Iowa followed with its second nine more, which was capped by a Uthoff dunk and a Gabriel Olaseni reverse layup to open a 23-8 lead.
“Early on, our effort level and attention to detail was good,” said McCaffery. “We got consecutive stops, some run outs, and we executed. Our decision-making, when to throw it inside, drive, move it along, or jump-shoot was really good.”
The Hawkeyes led by 18 points at the break and led by 20 or more points for the final 17 minutes against a Rutgers team that handed Wisconsin its only Big Ten defeat.
“It’s hard to win in this league,” said McCaffery. “They played really well in some tough places — at Maryland, at Indiana — they have been close. We did a good job on their two key guys and did a good job on the glass.”
Four Iowa players reached double figures with Uthoff leading the way with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting. White scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds, Olaseni added 12 points and grabbed six rebounds off the bench, and Jok scored 11 with three 3-pointers.
The Hawkeyes shot 50.8 percent from the floor, finishing with seven dunks among its 30 made field goals, and went 8-for-17 (47.1 percent) from 3-point range. Rutgers went 18-of-55 field goals (32.7 percent), went 5-of-22 from 3-point range, and committed 19 turnovers, which led to 20 Iowa points.
Iowa reemphasized playing through the post and capitalized, scoring 32 points in the paints. The team combined to score 30 paint points in the previous two games.
“We need to make that more of a priority,” said Uthoff. “Get the ball inside, they have to collapse in there and then Pete and I are open for 3s.”
Mack led the Scarlet Knights with 11 points, while D.J. Foreman scored 10 points off the bench.
Iowa kept its foot on the glass in the second half, extending its lead to 24 points four minutes in. White grabbed a defensive rebound and went coast-to-coast before splitting three defenders for a one-handed slam to push the lead to 53-29.
“I was able to get up and finish,” said White. “I made it apparent I was frustrated the way I finished last game around the basket. Maybe I took some of that out on that (play). I tried to finish strong today, I still missed a couple, but I stayed even keeled and played my game.”
The Hawkeyes went deep into their bench with reserves Kyle Denning, Okey Ukah, and Charlie Rose combining for 16 minutes to close out the game. Iowa extended its lead to a game-high 34 points — the final margin — by scoring the final nine points over the final 2:18.
Iowa (16-10, 7-6) returns to action Sunday, facing Nebraska at 2:06 p.m. (CT) at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln. It will be the Hawkeyes’ first-ever game in the Huskers’ two-year old facility.
“Every venue on the road in this league is tough,” said McCaffery. “We have three road games left and they are all going to be brutal.”