It was only a matter of time before Iowa’s length took a toll.
Even when Drake was swishing jumper after jumper, the outcome of Saturday’s Big Four Classic showdown never seemed in doubt.
Eventually, the 23rd-ranked Hawkeyes started pulling away for an 83-66 victory at Wells Fargo Arena.
“They had a couple guys who could catch and shoot,” Iowa forward Melsahn Basabe said. “As a unit, they played hard and they were an unselfish team.”
In the end, the Hawkeyes (9-1) were too tall and too talented.
They owned a 47-28 rebounding edge and started to play better defense on the perimeter as the game wore on.
“They were very long and athletic,” Drake guard Richard Carter said. “We had good first-shot defense, but our second-shot defense was not very good.”
Iowa went on a momentum-shifting 10-0 run before halftime.
Basabe was the leader with 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds. Devyn Marble contributed 14 points.
The Bulldogs (6-2) hit six of their first 10 3-point shots and led for most of the first half.
Chris Caird, a 6-foot-6 junior, hit his first four shots from behind the arc and had 14 points in the opening 20 minutes. He was averaging 6.9, and ended up with 21.
But even when Drake was rolling, it never owned more than a four-point advantage.
Peter Jok, a former Valley High School star, kept Iowa close with drives into the lane. He scored seven straight points in the first half and finished with 14.
“He’s not hurting for confidence,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said of Jok. “He gets more shots up per minute than anybody I can remember.
“No matter what the situation, time and score, whether they’re man or zone, he’s going to shoot the ball.”
Drake was ahead 40-39 with 3:17 left in the half. Then the Hawkeyes went on a scoring spree.
Aaron White put Iowa ahead for good with a layup. Basabe followed with another layup. Iowa built a 49-40 cushion at the break.
“We needed it,” Basabe said. “We were trading baskets and you couldn’t tell who was the better team. That run is what we needed to set a tone.”
Drake was defiant, but overmatched.
“Every team gets on a run,” said Carter, who finished with 18 points. “We weren’t getting too down on ourselves.
“It was just the next-play mentality.”
The open shots disappeared for the Bulldogs. Drake shot just 31 percent in the second half, including 4-of-13 from 3-point range.
“Defensively, we weren’t playing the way we needed to,” Marble said of Iowa’s early struggles. “Finally, we were able to get out in transition, get a few stops.”
The Bulldogs didn’t have many options inside, either.
Freshman center Jacob Enevold Jensen picked up two quick fouls. With the 6-foot-11 Enevold Jensen on the bench, Iowa controled the paint, building a 42-12 scoring advantage near the basket.
Marble hit a jumper to help the Hawkeyes maintain a 53-44 advantage.
Adam Woodbury added another, pushing the margin to 58-44.
A 3-pointer by Uthoff gave Iowa a 67-53 lead with 10:43 remaining.
It was a wake-up call for Drake, which was off to its best start since the 2007-08 season.
None of those wins, however, came against an opponent listed among the top 140 of the Ratings Percentage Index.
The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, host Fairleigh Dickinson at 6 p.m. Monday, before traveling to Iowa State for Friday’s Cy-Hawk matchup.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball