Dec. 2, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Junior Peter Jok scored a career-high 24 points to send the University of Iowa men’s basketball team to a 78-75 overtime victory over Florida State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The victory was Iowa’s third straight in the Challenge, and the win clinched the Big Ten Conference win in the annual series against the Atlantic Coast Conference, 8-6.
After making four of their first 20 3-point field goals, Jok came through when it counted most, draining a 3-pointer from the corner in front of the Hawkeye bench to give Iowa a 74-72 lead with 24 seconds remaining. It was the 21st lead change of the game.
“I was struggling shooting, and coach (Kirk) Speraw took me out and put Dom Uhl in to get my mind right,” said Jok. “He came up to me and said `We’re going to run a play for you, and you need to make it.’ I was like `I am going to make it’, so I went out there and made it.”
“He’s not afraid of the moment,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “He made a big shot. I am happy for him.”
It was the biggest shot in a back-and-forth game that was in the balance.
Iowa forced a turnover on the next possession before senior Jarrod Uthoff made two free throws to push the lead to four, but Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes kept the Seminoles alive by making a one-handed, off-balance 3-pointer to cut the lead to 76-75 lead with 4.5 seconds left.
Uthoff was fouled again, where he made two free throws to push the margin to three. Rathan-Mayes’ final heave was off the mark.
“Our execution down the stretch was pretty good,” said McCaffery. “We played the zone about as well as you could play it, but we couldn’t get a rebound. They are so quick to the ball, and they were sending everybody late.
“We got the misses we needed, but they went back and got it. Some teams are really good in that area, so this game is really going to help us.”
Florida State’s athleticism gave Iowa fits throughout the night. The Seminoles slashed their way to 46 points in the paint, 26 coming in the first half, and they hit the glass hard. The final rebounding margin was 49-42 in Florida State’s favor, 19 coming on the offensive glass, which led to 13 points.
“This game showed a lot of leadership and fight,” said senior Anthony Clemmons. “It showed you how our team is to be able to execute down the stretch, make the right plays, and being able to make shots late in the game.”
“If we rebound two or three late, that game is probably over with early. That’s the unique part about their team. They’ll go back and get it. They made plays.”
Jok’s career-high came on an 8-of-20 night from the field, which included a 3-of-9 performance from 3-point range. Uthoff scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds, senior Adam Woodbury posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Clemmons and Gesell added 10 apiece.
Iowa shot 42.2 percent from the field and went 19-of-26 from the free throw stripe. Florida State finished with a 38.2 field goal percentage, and made 5-of-23 3-point attempts.
Iowa led by as many as five points three times in the second half, but Florida State made plays when it counted. With the game tied at 63, Iowa had a chance to win the game in regulation, taking possession with 27 seconds to play. Gesell held the ball for the final shot, but he was forced to the baseline, and didn’t get a shot attempt off.
Florida State jumped Iowa early, building a 17-8 lead eight minutes into the game. The Hawkeyes fought back to tie the game at 21 with 5:52 remaining before Woodbury capped off an 11-0 Iowa run on a no-look pass to Jok for the layup to make the score 25-21. The Hawkeyes trailed 32-31 at the break.
Iowa (5-2) returns to action Saturday, hosting UMKC at 2 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court.