Jan. 5, 2016
- Read the December issue of Hawk Talk Monthly
- Download your Hawk Talk Monthly iOS app
- Download your Hawk Talk Monthly android app
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye Android app!
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Senior Jarrod Uthoff scored a game-high 25 points and senior Mike Gesell posted his first career double-double, leading the No. 19/23 University of Iowa men’s basketball team to a 77-66 victory over Nebraska on Tuesday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The win is Iowa’s fifth straight this season and ninth straight in Big Ten play dating back to last season. The victory moves the Hawkeyes’ record to 12-3 overall and 3-0 in league action. Nebraska falls to 8-8, 0-3.
“This was a game that took a lot to make sure we won,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “It took a lot for us to get this win, and it was experience.”
Uthoff’s second straight and seventh 20-point game of the season came via a 9-for-16 effort from the field and a 5-of-6 performance from the charity stripe. He also had eight rebounds.
Gesell’s performance came on a night when Iowa needed it most with senior Anthony Clemmons being slowed by a hip injury. Gesell delivered, reaching the 20 point mark for the second time in three games, making 5-of-7 field goals and 11-of-13 free throws. He also had 10 assists en route to his first career double-double.
Sophomore Dom Uhl chipped in 10 points with eight rebounds.
Iowa held a slight advantage in field goal percentage (43.4 to 43.1) and 3-point field goal percentage (41.2 to 35), but the difference was at the free throw line. The Hawkeyes went 24-of-32; Nebraska was 9-of-16.
Iowa spotted Nebraska a 10-0 lead to start the game, as the Huskers made five of their first seven shots. Iowa didn’t get on the scoreboard until a Uhl layup at the 15:07 mark and then upped its defensive intensity with a zone press.
The Huskers scored 10 points over the game’s first 4:42 and hit six of their first nine shots. Nebraska netted just 12 points over the final 15:18 of the first half, making three of its final 22 attempts.
“The press generated some energy,” said McCaffery. “We played with more energy, started running more, and the crowd got involved and energized. Then our break and ball movement was better.”
Uthoff reeled off seven straight points to cut the lead to 12-9 and a Uhl 3-pointer tied the game at 16 at the 10:35 mark. Junior Peter Jok drained a 3-pointer 58 seconds later to give the Hawkeyes their first lead at 19-17.
Nebraska’s final lead came via a Jack McVeigh 3-pointer with 7:35 remaining in the half, but the Huskers didn’t make another field goal, missing their final 12 shots. Iowa used back-to-back three-point plays from Adam Woodbury and Gesell to build a 27-22 lead and Uthoff’s jumper at the 3:13 mark gave the Hawkeyes a 31-22 lead.
The second half was nearly even with Iowa outscoring Nebraska, 46-44. Every time the Huskers made a charge, the Hawkeyes had an answer. Gesell was the difference, scoring 19 of his 22 points and dishing out seven of his 10 assists over the final 20 minutes.
“I thought in that one stretch in the second half, Mike and Jarrod kind of took the game over and made sure we won,” said McCaffery.
Iowa’s lead hovered at double digits until the 10 minute mark when Tai Webster’s layup trimmed the lead to 52-44. Redshirt freshman Nicholas Baer pulled down an offensive rebound on Iowa’s next possession and Uhl drained a 3-pointer to push the lead to 11.
“Dom seems to be able to make key 3s when we need them,” said McCaffery. “That one 3 was huge.”
Uthoff stretched the lead to 15 (63-48) with 7:15 left and Gesell closed out the victory at the line, making 6-of-8 free throws in the final two minutes.
Iowa now has a nine-day break before heading to East Lansing for a rematch with Michigan State.
“We need to continue getting better any way we can,” said Uthoff. “Offensively, defensively, getting out in transition…we’re a running team, so we need to work on our running game.