Ugly, but a win

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Joshua Housing

Iowa guard Peter Jok shoots a three against Minnesota on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016 at Carver-Hawkeye in Iowa City, IA. The Hawkeyes defeated the Gophers, 75-71. (The Daily Iowan/Joshua Housing)

By Ian Murphy
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The Iowa men’s basketball game beat Minnesota, 75-71, on Sunday in Carver-Hawkeye in a game more ugly than impressive.

The win moves the Hawkeyes to sole possession of first place in the Big Ten, and with Indiana and Maryland both losing over the weekend, if Iowa wins out, it will win the regular-season conference title.

The first 16 minutes of the game could only be described as ugly. The Hawkeyes traded leads with the Gophers six times, and the game was tied at four different occasions.

“That team is just dying for a win, you look at all of their games … every game they’ve lost is by single digits,” senior Anthony Clemmons said.

Minnesota shot an abysmal 29 percent in the first period, but against Iowa’s 40 percent, the poor shooting didn’t look nearly that bad.

The machine that is Jarrod Uthoff started 0-of-7, and for all the talk of the bench depth this season, sophomore Dom Uhl finally represented the pine-riders and scored for the first bench points by any Iowa player since a win against Illinois on Feb. 7.

At times, Iowa settled for 3-pointers and long 2s rather than attacking the basket, and Minnesota exploited that to take a 23-18 rebounding advantage in the first half.

While that can partly be attributed to senior Adam Woodbury getting in foul trouble and playing just eight at the first 20 minutes, the Hawkeyes also failed to box out on numerous occasions on the defensive end.

“I thought we did a lot of good things,” head coach Fran McCaffery said. “It was not a perfect game. It was not a perfect game for them.”

The gap in rebounding kept Minnesota in the game for most of the first half, but junior Peter Jok seemed determined to ensure the Hawkeyes enter the new week in sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.

Jok continued his exceptional offensive display with 12 points in the first half, and the other half of the two-headed monster, Uthoff, shot himself out of the funk he was in to score the last 7 points for the Hawkeyes, who entered the break with a 34-28 lead.

After the half, Jok continued to dominate, scoring Iowa’s first 8 points as the Hawkeyes seemed poised to put the Gophers behind them like they’ve done to so many teams before. He finished with 27 points.

Uthoff finished with an absurd stat line of 24 points, 15 rebounds, and 6 blocks.

The Hawkeyes never trailed in the second half, but they failed to ever put the Gophers away. The Gophers had an answer for every basket by the Hawkeyes as the two teams traded body blows for most of the second half.

Playing zone defense to contain Minnesota’s Nate Mason simply didn’t work. He finished with 11 points, and the zone was completely broken by the Gophers.

As they’ve said all season, however, the Hawkeyes only care about adding another tally to the win column.

“A win is a win,” Uthoff said. “I don’t think their record reflects how good they are.”

Follow @IanFromIowa on Twitter for Iowa men’s basketball news, updates, and analysis.

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