Oct. 29, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Senior Mike Gesell scored a game-high 24 points to lead the University of Iowa men’s basketball team to a 99-73 exhibition victory over Sioux Falls on Thursday on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Cougars went toe-to-toe with the Hawkeyes for 19:23 seconds before Iowa settled in and cruised in the second half. Sioux Falls led 35-33 with 3:34 remaining in the first half and the score was tied at 40 with 37 seconds left.
Gesell assisted on a Peter Jok 3-pointer to put Iowa on top for good, and Iowa’s senior point guard closed out the half with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Hawkeyes a 46-40 lead.
“We made a bunch of mistakes early, which I wasn’t expecting with our starters, but they got it together,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “We spurred it, and it’s the reason you play an exhibition versus a scrimmage. You can put some guys in a game-like situation and see what they can do.”
Iowa built on its momentum coming out of the locker room, scoring nine of the first 11 points to break the game open. Gesell made a 3-pointer on the Hawkeyes’ first possession and a three-point play from Adam Woodbury pushed the Iowa advantage to 55-42 with 18:41 left.
Jok connected on Iowa’s eighth 3-pointer at the 15:47 mark to push the lead to 65-51 before Gesell scored six straight to extend the advantage to 20 with 14:25 remaining.
Trailing by 23 points with 11:22 to play, Sioux Falls had a final surge, scoring 12 unanswered points to climb to within 11 with seven minutes remaining. A three point play from Jok ignited an 11-0 Iowa answer to put the game away.
The Hawkeyes outscored Sioux Falls, 53-33, over the final 20 minutes.
Iowa’s starting five — four seniors and a junior — carried the load, combining to score 72 of the 99 points. Gesell made 8-of-12 field goals and 6-of-8 free throws en route to his 24 point scoring output. He also had eight rebounds and six assists.
“The great thing about Mike is he had three turnovers early that were uncharacteristic for him and the way he came back and was aggressive with his jumper, drive, and defense,” said McCaffery. “I can’t be more proud of him, the way he played and fought.”
Jok made 6-of-11 attempts, including four 3-pointers to score 18 points, and senior Jarrod Uthoff had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Freshman Andrew Fleming and redshirt freshman Nicholas Baer paced Iowa’s newcomers. Fleming scored six of his eight points in the second half, while Baer scored eight points, making 3-of-5 field goals, including two 3-pointers.
“Nicholas is going to be an effective player for us moving forward,” said McCaffery. “Fleming is aggressive and isn’t afraid. Maybe he had a few poor choices on shot selection, but he’s going to come at you. That’s what you have to love about him.”
The Hawkeyes shot 49.3 (34-of-69) from the field for the game and made nine 3-pointers in 21 attempts. Iowa scored 44 points in the paint, had 32 points off of 18 Sioux Falls turnovers, and had a 49-34 rebounding advantage.
Jordan Mayes led a trio of Cougars in double figures, scoring 17 points on 5-of-13 shooting.
Iowa shot 52 percent from the field and 56 percent from the 3-point line in the first half, but turned the ball over 12 times. The Hawkeyes led 12-11 over the first six minutes before reeling off eight straight points with Clemmons starting and ending the run to build a 20-11 lead.
Trailing 23-13 at the midway point, the Cougars reeled eight straight points to cut the lead to 23-21. Two Uthoff free throws ended the spurt before Iowa pushed its advantage back to six (30-24) on a Jok 3-pointer with 7:30 remaining.
Sioux Falls trimmed the deficit to 30-29 on a Mack Johnson 3-pointer and the Cougars grabbed a 34-33 lead at the 4:56 mark when James Lawson banked home a 3-point attempt. Redshirt freshman Nicholas Baer connected on a 3-pointer for Iowa at the 3:20 mark to give the Hawkeyes a 36-35 lead.
The Hawkeyes return to action Nov. 6, hosting Augustana (South Dakota) at 7:05 p.m. Iowa opens the regular season Nov. 13 against Gardner Webb.