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By RICK BROWN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Peter Jok was cruising along, with three made free throws to his name when he got some encouragement.
“Ahmad Wagner told me to take over, and Christian Williams said he was going to get me the ball,” Iowa’s senior guard said. “I just shot it. That’s all I did.”
Jok finished with 28 points as the Hawkeyes defeated Regis, 95-73, in an exhibition game Friday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Jok made 7-of-9 shots from the field, including five 3-pointers in seven tries. He also made 9-of-10 free-throw attempts.
After Wagner and Williams offered their inspiration, Jok scored 16 of the Hawkeyes’ final 19 points of the half, including the last 13 in a 4-minute burst, as his team took a 51-31 lead.
Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery saw a lot of good things, and some bad things as well, as his team went through their final tune-up before the Nov. 11 season-opener against Kennesaw State.
“There were some very good individual performances,” McCaffery said. “Christian Williams, in particular. Pete was on fire, and we did a good job of recognizing that and getting him the ball.”
Williams, a sophomore, had 11 points, five assists, a blocked shot, and no turnovers in 23 minutes. McCaffery said after the game that Williams took a positive step forward in his competition with freshman Jordan Bohannon for the starting point guard position.
Anthony Clemmons, one of four starters lost from last season’s NCAA Tournament team, texted Williams two hours before the game and offered some encouragement of his own.
“He said, ‘Do what you do and take care of the ball,'” Williams said. “And that’s what I tried to do.”
Freshman forward Tyler Cook, who was in McCaffery’s starting lineup along with Jok, Williams, junior Dom Uhl, and sophomore Nicholas Baer, had 15 points, six rebounds, three steals, and a blocked shot in 26 minutes.
“He was terrific,” McCaffery said. “He was a presence on both ends of the floor. I thought he fit into what we were trying to do.”
Cook attempted seven free throws and nine field goals.
“Those numbers should be doubled,” McCaffery said.
One thing the coach didn’t like was his team’s defensive effort. Iowa had an 18-0 run in the first half, and built the lead to 24 points less than three minutes into the second half. But Regis cut the deficit to nine points, at 67-58,with 10 minutes to play.
“Our effort level when we got a lead was not what it needs to be,” McCaffery said. “You can’t play this game in spurts and be a good team. You can be OK, but you can’t be good.”
Less than four minutes later, the lead was back to 20 at 80-60 after a Cook dunk and a conventional three-point play by Williams.
“We had two good defensive sequences, one in each half,” McCaffery said. “We didn’t play the kind of defense we need to play. Our defensive cohesiveness is not what it needs to be.”
Part of the reason for that is Iowa’s roster. Ten of the 13 scholarship players are freshmen or sophomores. Jok knows his team has a lot to learn, and they didn’t play the kind of defense it takes to win in the Big Ten.
“We didn’t play great defense,” Jok said. “This was a wakeup call for us.”
McCaffery used 11 scholarship players in both halves. Not seeing action were freshman forward Ryan Kriener and sophomore guard Brady Ellingson. Both sat out with ankle injuries.
“Brady should be back shortly,” McCaffery said. “Kriener could be a little longer.”
The Hawkeyes open the regular season Nov. 11, hosting Kennesaw State at 8:35 p.m. in night cap of an Iowa basketball doubleheader. Tickets are available through the UI Athletics Ticket Office.