Milwaukee, WI – The University of Iowa is rarely mentioned among the top contenders in the Big Ten Conference this season, but after traveling to Milwaukee and soundly defeating Marquette, 89-61, on Thursday night, maybe it should be.
Iowa starts four seniors and a junior and all scored in double figures as the Hawkeyes jumped on Marquette early, built a 48-21 halftime cushion and cruised to a 29-point victory to improve their record to 3-0.
“The reality is, it’s not the what, it’s the who,” said Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery. “We have guys who can make plays. It’s what experience does. Having experienced players early in the season is a great advantage.”
None of the Hawkeyes is more experienced than 6-9 combination forward Jarrod Uthoff. The fifth-year senior filled up the box score scoring 15 points, collecting four rebounds and handing out three assists and doing most of the heavy lifting in limiting Marquette leading scorer Henry Ellenson to three points, 16.5 below his average.
A lean, long forward with a skill set to swing between the power and small forward positions, Uthoff scored from all three areas. An early three point shot from the top of the circle put Iowa up 18-6. Stepping back to create space for his jumper, he connected on a midrange baseline shot midway through the second half. He put his back-to-the basket game on display twice in the second half establishing position deep in the paint and scoring once over his left shoulder and once over his right shoulder.
“I thought Jarrod was a tough match for Henry,” said McCaffery. “You’re talking about a fifth-year senior versus someone playing his third college game. Jarrod can handle Henry off the dribble and has the size to defend his jump shot.”
Mike Gesell, Peter Jok and Anthony Clemmons, Iowa’s three starting guards, played highly efficient games in touching the box score in numerous categories. Entering the game with better than a four-to-one assist to turnover ratio, Gesell was nearly flawless directing the Iowa offense and handing out four assists without turning over the ball once. A true senior already in possession of a finance degree, Gesell showed off his high basketball IQ on the defensive end twice picking the perfect times to dig down on Ellenson to force a turnover and jump ball.
Asked what impressed him the most about Gesell, McCaffery was quick to respond, “his decision making. When you have a point guard who doesn’t make mistakes, it give you a great chance to win.”
Jok, as a junior the only non-senior in the Hawkeyes starting line-up, led Iowa with a career-high 20 points. A 6-6 two-guard with a pro body, Jok knocked down four of six shots from behind the arc and complimented his long range marksmanship by leaking out in transition to score at the rim.
“We have a variety of guys who spread the floor and do a good job of moving the ball,” said McCaffery. “I’ve been at this a long time and the only way to survive a college basketball season is to have depth. You can’t do it with six or seven guys.”
Ice cold behind the three-point line in its first two games shooting 21 percent, Marquette was even more frigid in the first half making only two of 19 shots from distance for a frosty 11 percent. Never able to gain any traction on the offensive end, Marquette limped into the halftime recess down 48-21.
“Tonight was unacceptable,” said Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski. “We got exposed in every facet of the game. That was not the way Marquette should play and I take full responsibility for it. There’s not one positive thing I can take from the game.”
Not only was Ellenson bottled up by Uthoff, but his fellow front line running mate, Center Luke Fischer, struggled against the size of Iowa Center Adam Woodbury and finished with eight points, six and a half points below his average.
Author of double-doubles in his first two games of the season, Fischer committed his second foul less than six minutes into the game, his third before halftime and fouled out after spending only 16 minutes on the court.
Coming into the game allowing 77 points per game, Iowa sliced up both the Marquette man and zone defenses. The Hawkeyes shot 55 percent from the field (36-66) and from behind the arc (12-22) in scoring their 89 points.
“Our defense has been poor,” said Wojciechowski. “Our offense has affected our defense. We’ve turned it over too much and we’ve let missed shots affect our defensive effort.”
Asked about starting two freshmen, a sophomore and two juniors against the more experienced Hawkeyes, Wojciechowski made no excuses for his team. “I don’t want to talk about inexperience,” he said. “Youth had nothing to do with the way we played tonight.”
With scouts from 12 NBA teams in the Bradley Center to get what for most was their first look at Ellenson, they left seeing only flashes of the scoring, rebounding and ball handling skills that made him one of the most highly sought after high school seniors in the country last season.
“People are game planning for Henry. That’s new for him. He’s on the top of everyone’s scouting report. We have to help him more and he can play better,” said Wojciechowski.
It’s no surprise McCaffery lauded his team’s defensive effort in his postgame comments. “We wanted to be in the gaps, put pressure on the ball and stay down on fakes,” he said. “We executed our game plan to perfection on the defensive end.”
Iowa takes its 3-0 record to Orlando, Florida on November 26 to face Dayton in the first of three games it will play in the Advocare Invitational. Things do not get any easier for Marquette when it travels to Brooklyn, New York for its next game against LSU on November 23 in the first round of the Legends Classic.
This article was written by Tom Osowski, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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