Jan. 21, 2016
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By JAMES ALLAN
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Three Hawkeyes hit the 20-point mark for the first time in 16 years, leading the ninth-ranked University of Iowa men’s basketball team to a 90-76 road victory at Rutgers on Thursday night at the Rutgers Athletic Center.
“It’s a challenge to go on the road and they did what they had to do to get the win,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “You can talk about all the breakdowns we had, but we still scored 90 and got the win. In this league, you want to get the win and move on to the next game.”
Iowa’s victory moves the Hawkeyes to 6-0 in the Big Ten Conference for the first time since 1987 and 15-3 overall. The Hawkeyes have won eight straight games and 12 consecutive league contests dating back to last season, its longest such streak since the 1969-70 conference season.
Junior Peter Jok scored 19 of his career-high 29 points in the first half, making 10-of-19 field goals and five 3-pointers. Seniors Anthony Clemmons and Jarrod Uthoff scored 20 points apiece. Clemmons’ career-high came on an 8-of-12 shooting performance (to go along with five assists), while Uthoff was 6-of-11 from the field with four 3-pointers and eight rebounds.
“We were getting productivity from a lot of different people and there was a tremendous amount of unselfishness,” said McCaffery. “When you have a couple of really gifted players, you still want to make sure you’re sharing the ball.”
Iowa had 19 assists on its 31 field goals and finished the game shooting 47.7 percent from the field. The Hawkeyes made 11 3-pointers, shooting 38 percent from 3-point range, and out-rebounded the Scarlet Knights, 38-33.
Senior Adam Woodbury posted his third double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds. It was his second-half defense that allowed the Hawkeyes to pull away.
“He was great, wasn’t he?” said McCaffery. “Considering he was in foul trouble in the first half and didn’t play as much, his defense in the middle of the zone in the second half was spectacular. The traffic rebounds, contests at the rim, and more importantly, his communication. He had a lot to do with us getting a double-digit lead.”
Iowa trailed briefly with 4 1/2 minutes left in the first half when Mike Williams converted a layup to give Rutgers its only lead at 30-29. Iowa turned up its defensive pressure, and it led to a 15-5 run, allowing the Hawkeyes to open up a 44-35 lead.
“You have to give credit to Rutgers,” said Clemmons. “They gave us a battle and fought us until the end. Our guys just stuck in there and had a lot of poise so we could get the win.”
After leading 45-37 at the break, Rutgers scored the first five points of the second half to trim its deficit to 45-42 before Woodbury’s layup and a Uthoff 3-pointer pushed the lead to eight just 53 seconds later.
The Scarlet Knights got to within four with 17:29 left on a Greg Lewis jumper before Uthoff drained his second 3-pointer of the half, stretching the lead to 53-46. Clemmons followed with a 3-point field goal to make the score 56-48 and his layup at the 14:40 mark stretched the lead to double digits.
Three 3-pointers — from Uthoff and two from Jok — extended Iowa’s lead to 15 and an Ahmad Wagner dunk made the score 77-58 with 7:23 to go. Rutgers’ shots started to fall late in the game, cutting the lead to 80-72 with 4:15 left, but Iowa closed out the 14-point victory.
Rutgers shot 48.4 percent from the field, utilizing its Princeton-style offense to get layup after layup to the tune of 46 points in the paint. The Scarlet Knights went just 4-of-17 from 3-point range, and turned the ball over 11 times, which led to 14 Iowa points.
Williams led Rutgers with 17 points and a total of four Scarlet Knight players reached double figures. The Hawkeyes return to action Sunday, hosting No. 22 Purdue at 12:06 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court. Iowa rallied from an 18-point deficit to defeat the Boilermakers, 70-63, on Jan. 2.
“It’s going to take everything we have Sunday against Purdue,” said McCaffery.