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

Hawkeye men’s basketball benched & pining away for points

Joshua Housing
Iowa forward Dom Uhl lays the ball up against Minnesota on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016 in Carver-Hawkeye in Iowa City, IA. The Hawkeyes defeated the Gophers, 75-71. (The Daily Iowan/Joshua Housing)

The play of the bench of the Iowa men’s basketball team has been praised all season, and for the most part, rightfully so.

Nicholas Baer and Dom Uhl were both strong scorers for Iowa early in Big Ten play. Recently, however, bench scoring has been almost completely absent. Over the past three games, the Hawkeyes have managed a measly 14 points from its reserves.

Iowa was at its worst against Indiana; Uhl and Baer combined for 4 fouls and 0 points in 25 minutes. The bench went a combined 0-of-4 against the Hoosiers, with no trips to the free-throw line and just 3 rebounds.

The bench was marginally better on Feb. 14, scoring 6 points against Minnesota and providing some rebounding help. Ahmad Wagner was especially active on the glass, tallying 7 rebounds.

“You look at the offensive rebounding in particular, Baer and Ahmad, when we really needed it. Those guys were all over the glass,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “They weren’t mistake guys. That’s what you need: rebound, energy, defend, don’t make mistakes, and the points will come.”

As McCaffery said, the bad shooting carried over against the Gophers; the Hawkeyes subs were just 2-of-8 from the field. However, the two free throws and two baskets proved to be of vital importance, because without them, a one-game lead on the rest of the conference would have turned into a loss and a three-way tie for the Big Ten lead.

If the Hawkeyes want to make a deep run in March, the bench players will have to do much more than they have in the last week.

Block party

Led by Player of the Year candidate Jarrod Uthoff, the Iowa men’s basketball team ranks tied for third the Big Ten in blocks per game with 5.5, third in the conference with 138.

RELATED: Hawkeye men’s basketball falls to Indiana

Only Maryland, which averages 5.6 blocks per game, swats away more shots than the Hawkeyes. The Terrapins also have 146 blocks, and Ohio State has 143.

Uthoff has more than half of the Hawkeyes’ blocks, with 74 through the first 25 games. Uthoff averages 3.0 blocks per game and has 10 more blocks than any other player in the conference.

In his three seasons as a Hawkeye, Uthoff has totaled an impressive 165 blocks.

Uthoff was never an under-the-radar player this season, and he’s shown exactly why thus far.

He’s an elite scorer and a strong defender, but his shot-blocking ability might be the strongest part of his game.

Rack ’em up

Despite several cardiac episodes, the Hawkeyes have a reputation for winning at home, tallying 13 straight dating back to last season.

For all the decrying of the crowds and students, Iowa does play exceptionally well on its home court, as would be expected.

Iowa is winning its games in Carver-Hawkeye by an average of nearly 14 points. In all games, Iowa’s margin of victory is 12.1, which ranks 24th nationally and fourth in the Big Ten behind Michigan State, Purdue, and Indiana.

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