IOWA CITY, Ia. — What the Iowa men’s basketball season opener lacked in drama, it made up for in division of on-court labor.
The 10 players who trotted onto the court in the first half scored as Iowa used offensive balance from baseline to backcourt to overwhelm North Carolina-Wilmington 82-39 Friday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa raced to a 9-0 lead in the 500th men’s game in arena history and barely broke stride the rest of the way. When senior Zach McCabe scored with 2:42 to go before halftime, it meant every Hawkeye who played had produced points.
In all, 12 Hawkeyes scored.
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Wisconsin transfer Jarrod Uthoff led Iowa with 14 points, while adding seven rebounds and four blocked shots — in his first action since March 2011. The Hawkeyes blocked 12 shots in all.
“Words can’t describe it. It was a lot of fun out there,” said Uthoff, who was incredibly efficient from the field (5-for-8), 3-point range (1-for-1) and free-throw line (3-for-3). “I definitely missed it the <FZ,1,0,7>last two years.”
Peter Jok, who played at West Des Moines Valley after transferring from Des Moines Roosevelt, drained Iowa’s first 3-pointer of the season from the right baseline to make it 23-4 and finished with 11 points.
It was a night of firsts for Iowa, which saw the debuts of Uthoff and Jok. Uthoff, a Cedar Rapids native, used a drive from the left wing and short bank shot to score his first basket in an Iowa uniform and make it 20-4.
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Iowa coach Fran McCaffery lauded the first impressions carved out by both.
“Uthoff is a really interesting player,” McCaffery said. “He affects the game in so many ways. His shot blocking, his rebounding in traffic, he covers a lot of ground. Then he can dribble-pass and shoot, so he’s going to get to the free-throw line a lot.”
“I’m thrilled with him, thrilled with Peter. … Great night for both of them.”
North Carolina-Wilmington, coached by former North Carolina star Buzz Peterson, scored its first basket on a putback by Cedrick Williams with 15:41 to play in the first half.
Iowa pushed in front by 10 on a pair of baskets from Devyn Marble — the second on a steal and dunk — for a 14-4 edge. The Hawkeyes suffocated the Seahawks defensively, holding the team to 22.2 percent shooting and an abysmal 2-for-23 from the 3-point line.
“They took us out of the game early,” Peterson said. “We have not seen that length and we may not see that length the rest of the year.”
Expectations for Iowa have risen to a point unseen for at least eight seasons. Iowa finished 25-13 a season ago, reaching the championship game of the National Invitation Tournament at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
The crowd of 15,293 — the biggest for a home opener since 2001 — watched the team that returned its leading scorer and assist producer (Marble), rebounder (White) and shot blocker (Melsahn Basabe).
It proved a drama-stifling mix against the Seahawks, who have yet to break the 13-win mark in Peterson’s first three seasons.
Iowa owned more than enough firepower against North Carolina-Wilmington despite the absence of shooter Josh Oglesby, a junior who broke a bone in his right foot at practice Wednesday and is expected to miss six weeks.
Some of that slack was picked up by Jok, who also added five rebounds.
“(Oglesby) talked to me. He said to just go out there and shoot,” Jok said. “I told him I hope he comes back early and ‘Get well soon.’ ”
Iowa received its strongest post play from Gabe Olaseni, who outplayed block-mate Adam Woodbury. Olaseni finished with eight points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots — all in the first half — while Woodbury recorded as many fouls as rebounds or points until a basket with 9:01 to go.
Woodbury ended with four points, five rebounds and four fouls, while looking less steady around the basket.
“Gabe was flying tonight — on the glass, blocking shots, running the floor,” McCaffery said.
|UNC WILMINGTON (39)|
Halftime—Iowa 48-12. Team fouls—UNC Wilmington 20, Iowa 10. Fouled out—Reybold. Attendance—15,293.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball