Jan. 31, 2016
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It was the bounce back the No. 3/4 University of Iowa men’s basketball team was looking for.
Senior Jarrod Uthoff scored 19 of his 23 points in the first half and junior Peter Jok netted 22 of his team-high 26 points in the second to lead the Hawkeyes to an 85-71 victory over Northwestern on Sunday afternoon on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“Jarrod was cooking in the first half, so we were trying to find him and in the second half I had to pick it and be more aggressive,” said Jok. “When he was eating, I told him to keep shooting. When I was cooking he was telling me to keep shooting.”
Jok and Uthoff combined for 49 of Iowa’s 85 points, leading the Hawkeyes to their 14th straight home win and moving the team’s record to 17-4 overall and 8-1 in Big Ten play. Northwestern’s losing streak now stands at five games, dropping the Wildcats’ record to 15-8, 3-7.
Northwestern was making shots early, connecting on four 3-pointers in the first eight minutes to build an 18-14 lead. Uthoff was Iowa’s offense, scoring 10 of the team’s first 12 points a game after being held to a season-low nine points Thursday at Maryland.
Down four with 12 minutes to go in the first half, the Hawkeyes extended their defense to a 1-2-2 3/4-court press, and it gave the Wildcats fits. Iowa limited Northwestern to three field goals (in 19 attempts) for the final 11 1/2 minutes to break the game open.
The Hawkeyes used a 14-0 run to push their lead to double figures and Iowa out-scored Northwestern, 28-8, during the stretch to take a 42-26 advantage into the locker room. Iowa scored 16 first-half points off seven offensive rebounds.
“We turned up our intensity when we were out there with the press,” said senior Anthony Clemmons. “We gave a lot of effort and were aggressive and got them to turn the ball over and pushed it to get good shots. We locked in defensively and were able to put it away.”
Northwestern came out of the break with a fire, using a 9-2 run to close the gap to single digits (44-35) with 16:10 to play. Uthoff answered by banking home a field goal to push the lead to 11 before Jok went crazy.
“Back-to-back 3-pointers from Jok, those were key,” said NU head coach Chris Collins. “With a really good shooter, it only takes one shot. One was off a dead ball turnover, when he saw that go in, all of a sudden his eyes lit up because that’s the kind of shooter and scorer he is.”
The guard scored 14 consecutive Iowa points in a three-minute stretch, including three straight 3-pointers in front of the Iowa bench to send the sold-out crowd into frenzy. Jok capped off the stretch with two free throws following a Northwestern technical foul to stretch the lead to 60-40.
“He has a knack to get the ball in the hole at any point in time,” said Clemmons of Jok. “When he makes one you better give him the ball again so he can make two.”
The Hawkeyes pushed their lead to as many as 29 points with 6:56 remaining. Northwestern made the score closer than it actually was on the court in the closing minutes, playing its starters against Iowa’s reserves.
Jok’s 26 points came on 6-of-10 field goals, including four 3-pointers, and 10-of-12 free throws. Uthoff’s 23 came on 8-of-16 shooting with two 3-pointers. Senior Adam Woodbury led the team with nine rebounds.
Iowa had a higher field goal percentage (42.4 to 41.9) and finished with seven 3-pointers (in 19 attempts) compared to an 11-for-30 shooting day for the Wildcats. Iowa’s offensive aggressiveness paid off, as the Hawkeyes had a field day at the free throw line, making 28-of-36 attempts — both season-bests. Northwestern was 8-of-14.
The Hawkeyes edged Northwestern on the glass, 40-39, and they finished with a Big Ten season-high 12 steals and forced 16 turnovers, which they converted to 24 points. Iowa turned 13 offensive rebounds into 24 points.
Northwestern’s leading scorer Bryant McIntosh made just two field goals (in six attempts), finishing with four points. Demps led all scorers with 30, but they came off an 11-of-22 shooting performance, including a 6-of-15 effort from 3-point range.
The Hawkeyes return to action Wednesday, hosting Penn State at 6 p.m. (CT).