Nov. 13, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It was Jarrod Uthoff in the first half and the Hawkeyes’ defense in the second, sending the University of Iowa men’s basketball team to a 76-59 season-opening victory over Gardner Webb on Friday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Uthoff carried the load in a back-and-forth first half, making 6-of-9 field goals (two 3-pointers) and seven free throws. He scored eight of the game’s first nine points and the final seven of the first half, but Iowa led just 41-37 at the break.
After the Runnin’ Bulldogs shot 42.4 percent and out-rebounded Iowa, 20-18, in the first half, the Hawkeyes’ defense buckled down. Iowa forced nine turnovers and Gardner Webb made just five field goals in 27 attempts over the final 20 minutes.
Gardner Webb finished with a 31.7 percent field goal percentage and committed 17 turnovers for the game. Tyrell Nelson led the team with 12 points, while Isaiah Ivey had nine points and nine rebounds.
“I was happy with the defense in the second half,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “Coming into the game, if you look at the stats (from the Augustana game), we got beat handily on the glass. We did great rebounding in the second half, and forced more misses too.”
Iowa mixed-and-matched line-ups, and everyone contributed.
Redshirt freshman Nicholas Baer had two 3-pointers, senior Adam Woodbury scored six straight points in a two-minute span — he finished with 11 points and six rebounds for the game — to help Iowa maintain a lead, and freshman Ahmad Wagner provided energy and production over the final nine minutes.
Wagner had a team-high eight rebounds (six offensive) and finished with six points, making 3-of-4 attempts. The Hawkeyes opened up an 18-point lead on a Wagner put-back layup with 4:56 remaining.
“I want to do what I can to bring energy,” said Wagner. “I want to be a hustle guy, get other guys open, and more shots. I want to make effort plays.”
Thirteen Hawkeyes played and 11 scored in the contest. Senior Anthony Clemmons and Jok had eight points apiece, and Gesell made up for a two point scoring output with nine assists and three steals. Iowa shot 40.7 percent for the game, made seven 3-pointers, and won the rebounding battle, 46-39.
“I saw a lot of guys contribute and that’s the most important thing,” said McCaffery.
Sophomore Dom Uhl rebounded from playing two minutes against Augustana; he had a first-half dunk, and finished with six points and six rebounds in 19 minutes.
“Dom handled practice professionally this week and impacted the game in a huge way in the first half,” said McCaffery. “He played with great energy the whole game and was solid.”
The Hawkeyes (1-0) return to action Sunday, hosting Coppin State at 4 p.m. (CT).