Hawkeyes hammer Seahawks, 82-39
IOWA CITY – Jarrod Uthoff drove to the rim and banked in a shot off the side of the glass with confidence. Peter Jok followed with an open 3-pointer – then threw down a two-handed dunk to give Iowa a 20-point lead.
If the collegiate debuts for Uthoff and Jok are any indication, Iowa has two more impact players to add to a stacked rotation in 2013-14.
Uthoff had 14 points, seven rebounds and four blocks in his Iowa debut and the Hawkeyes rolled past UNC-Wilmington 82-39 Friday in its season opener.
Freshman Peter Jok added 11 points for the Hawkeyes (1-0), who opened the game with a 52-12 run.
“I’ve been talking about how talented they both are,” McCaffery said. “To see them go out there in their Hawkeyes uniform and play that way, I think it was a great feeling for all of us. Their teammates were pulling for them.”
Iowa opened up a 10-point lead after seven minutes and went on a 20-3 spurt to go ahead 34-7. The Hawkeyes had 10 players score in the first half and led by as many as 47 points.
Aaron White had 10 points and Gabe Olaseni had eight points, seven rebounds and five blocks for Iowa. Jok, the leading scorer in Iowa while at West Des Moines Valley High a year ago, was 5 of 13 shooting.
Cedrick Williams had 15 points to lead UNC-Wilmington (0-1). The Seahawks had just 12 first-half points, the least the Hawkeyes have allowed under coach Fran McCaffery.
For Uthoff, Friday’s opener was the culmination of nearly three years spent waiting to make his NCAA debut.
The excitement over Uthoff’s potential impact on the Hawkeyes will only grow after such a well-rounded opener.
“Words can’t describe it. It’s a lot of fun out there,” Uthoff said. “I’ve definitely missed it.”
Uthoff didn’t play as a freshman at Wisconsin, and the Cedar Rapids, Iowa native wound up back home after a contentious and highly-publicized transfer from the Badgers.
The 6-foot-9 Uthoff spent last season practicing with the Hawkeyes, and the diversity in his game was obvious from the moment coach Fran McCaffery put him in with just over 13 minutes left in the first half.
Uthoff hit four of his first five shots and led Iowa with nine first-half points. His defense also helped the Hawkeyes stymie the Seahawks, who shot 16 of 72 and 2 of 23 from 3-point range.
“Uthoff is really an interesting player. He affects the game in so many ways. His shot-blocking, his rebounding in traffic – he covers a lot of ground. And, he can dribble, pass and shoot,” McCaffery said. “We just encourage him to be aggressive.”
The Hawkeyes couldn’t have asked for a better start to their most anticipated season in nearly a decade.
Iowa brought back all five starters from last season’s team, which won 25 games and reached the NIT finals. Even the loss of reserve guard Josh Oglesby – who broke his foot Wednesday night and will be out six weeks – shouldn’t make too much of a dent into a rotation that could go a dozen players deep.
The Hawkeyes haven’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2006, when they won the Big Ten tournament.
Most Iowa fans expect Iowa to snap that eight-year skid – and a lot of them believe this year’s team is capable of even more than simply reaching the tournament.
The Seahawks finished 10-20 in Buzz Peterson’s third season as their coach in 2012-13. They’re picked 8th in the Colonial Athletic Association, which would match their highest league finish under Peterson.
The Seahawks will stay in Iowa and play Iowa State on Sunday.
They can only hope the Cyclones aren’t ready to open their season as the Hawkeyes were.
“This is a talented team,” McCaffery said of the Seahawks. “This is a team that is better than this, and they shot the ball as poorly as they probably will all year. I think we had something to do with it.”