The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

What happened to Uthoff and the Hawks in Ames?

Peter Kim
Iowa forward Jarrod Uthoff dunks at the Carver-Hakweye Arena on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. The Hawkeyes defeated the Bulldogs, 76-59. (The Daily Iowan.Peter Kim)

Jarrod Uthoff scored 30 in the first half and only 2 in the second.

By Kyle Mann

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Jarrod Uthoff put on one hell of a show in Hilton Coliseum in Iowa’s Dec. 10 loss to Iowa State.

And oh, was it a show; complete with drama as well as a bit of mystery. What began as one of the most impressive scoring displays I’ve seen in my 22 years turned into a tale of a heartbreaking disappearance.

We saw what happened; Uthoff scored 30 points on 12-of-13 shooting from the floor in the first half, including 5-of-6 from beyond the arc and 3-of-4 from the free-throw line. He torched the Cyclones and was trending on Twitter as he carried the Hawkeyes to a 49-35 lead over the No. 4 team in the country at halftime.

He scored 2 points in the second half in what turned out to be an early favorite for toughest loss of the season. In examining the second-half collapse, three elements can be credited for the disappearance.

Matt Thomas

ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla made note after the 83-82 thriller that while Steve Prohm has been the coach of the Cyclones since the summer, he truly became the coach after the comeback. Much of that should be credited to his second-half adjustments, including assigning 6-4 sophomore Matt Thomas to man up on Uthoff.

Uthoff had made mincemeat of the Cyclones in the first half, largely coming at the expense of their forwards, particularly Georges Niang. With Thomas marking Uthoff in the second half, he was faced with an athletic defender who could shade him all over the floor and prevent him from getting space with or without the ball.

Uthoff had only five shot attempts in the second half, and much of that is due to Thomas being on his hip the whole time.


Uthoff is a well-documented humble star, who often deflects the notion of being relied upon for offense. Peter Jok’s impressive start to the half was a short-lived fun time for Hawkeye fans, but perhaps only functioned to encourage Uthoff that his teammates were well-off without his scoring 30 in the half.

Not to suggest that the other players don’t have skills or can’t shoot, because the stats would suggest exactly otherwise, but at some point, the reality is that Uthoff is the best player on this team, and whether he likes it or not, he needs realize that that comes with assuming the role of go-to scorer.

Uthoff missed two shots in the first 70 seconds of the half and seemed to slink away while Jok rained down from behind the arc. Then, while Cyclones embarked on a run that everybody knew they would, Uthoff went from the 12:12 mark in the half to 3:48 remaining without putting a single shot up.

There were numerous instances in which he passed up open looks that one would have expected him to take in the first half, and he seemed to have lost either the confidence or the aggression, maybe both. Seven of his 12 field goals in the first half came on assists; where were those spot-up attempts in the second? Regardless, it was absent in the Hawkeyes’ time of need. But it’s not all on him.

Fran McCaffery

Culminating with the last play of the game, in which McCaffery elected not to call his final time-out in the final seconds, some of the responsibility on the coach as well.

McCaffery said, as he has before, that he trusts his players to make plays when they are needed. It is an admirable philosophy and likely welcomed by the critics who believe college basketball is over-coached. But with his team, and Uthoff’s particular makeup as a player, there will be times when it is necessary to force-feed his best player. This was one of those times.

Uthoff shouldn’t go nearly 10 minutes without a shot in the midst of a comeback, but it also shouldn’t be allowed to happen to begin with. Thomas did a good job on defense, but there was a noticeable lack of an attempt to get Uthoff going again.

We saw both the good and the bad that comes with Uthoff in Ames, and his only problem is that he’s too unselfish. But sometimes, the Hawkeyes and Fran McCaffery will need him to play out of his comfort zone.

Follow @KyleFMann for news, updates, and analysis on the Iowa men’s basketball team.

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