BIG FOUR CLASSIC: Hawkeyes flex muscles against smaller Bulldogs
DES MOINES – It would have been easy for Iowa’s Peter Jok to sit around and mope about only getting 3 minutes of playing time against Notre Dame in the Hawkeyes’ last outing.
But that’s just not in Jok’s DNA.
Instead, the Hawkeye freshman adjusted his game, found a way for Iowa coach Fran McCaffery to keep him on the floor and bounced back in a big way with 14 points and seven rebounds in his hometown during No. 23 Iowa’s 83-66 win over Drake in the second Annual Big Four Classic in front of 14,512 fans Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena.
“Peter is not hurting for confidence,” McCaffery said. “He gets more shots up per minute than anybody I can remember. When you have a guy like him, he needs to take a good shot if it is there. He is going to shoot the ball and I am going to tell him to shoot it again.”
Jok adjusted his game by attacking the rim at the offensive end instead of settling for long-range jumpers. He also attacked the glass at both ends, coming up with three offensive and four defensive rebounds.
“I have to accept my role. I am not supposed to be the top scorer,” said Jok, who scored his 14 points in 20 minutes. “I tried to show coach that I can do more than just shoot. That’s what I tried to do. I wanted to give him a reason to keep me out there.”
Aside from Jok, three other Hawkeyes scored in double-figures, Iowa’s bench outscored Drake’s reserves 39-7 and the Hawkeyes pounded the Bulldogs on the boards, 47-28.
The Bulldogs played with the Hawkeyes (9-1) through the first 38 minutes, but Iowa used a 10-0 run to end the half and never looked back in claiming their ninth win of the season.
“They outrebounded us by quite a few, that’s what it came down to,” said former Marshalltown Community College forward Chris Caird, who finished with a career-high 21 points to lead Drake. “They had way too many offensive rebounds.”
Melsahn Basabe finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Jarrod Uthoff added 13 points and nine boards off the bench. Roy Devyn Marble also finished in double-figures with 14 and also grabbed six boards.
Iowa shot 45 percent from the floor but was just 3-of-18 from long range. The Hawkeyes made up for it though by scoring 42 points in the paint and putting in 29 second-chance points on 17 offensive rebounds.
“Our philosophy is to go to the rim,” said Basabe, who was 7-of-10 from the floor. “I know I haven’t been doing that as well as I would have liked so I made a conscious effort to do that. Plus, we had the size advantage and that was one way we could control the game.”
Iowa didn’t take control of the game though until the final two minutes of the first half mainly because Drake connected on eight first-half 3-pointers. Four of those came from Caird, who played his best game in a Bulldog uniform after hitting 5-of-8 from long range. He also grabbed five rebounds in the loss.
“We really need our four to be able to stretch the defense, knock down some 3-pointers and function out there and that was as good of a game as he has had this year,” Drake coach Ray Giacoletti said. “We are trying to get him comfortable. I was proud of him. He hit some big shots in a big-game atmosphere.”
The run by Iowa late in the first half, according to Giacoletti, stemmed from the Bulldogs taking three consecutive quick shots. Iowa turned those misses into easy buckets at the other end.
“We panicked a bit. We took too many quick shots there late in the first half and went from being tied to down 10 very quickly,” said the first-year Drake coach. “It’s a learning experience for us. You may as well turn it over if you shoot the ball that quickly.”
The Hawkeyes, who led by as many as 23 in the game, have now beaten Drake (6-2) four straight times and are 2-0 in the Big Four Classic. Iowa defeated Northern Iowa last year.
Drake also got 18 from Richard Carter and Gary Ricks Jr. added nine points, five rebounds and four assists. The Bulldogs hit just less than 40 percent from the floor, were 12-of-29 from long range but only attempted 10 free throws. Iowa was 22-of-30 from the charity stripe.
Seven Hawkeyes scored at least six points in the game. Zach McCabe and Aaron White each had seven points and Adam Woodbury scored six and grabbed six rebounds. Aaron Hawley was the only other Bulldog to score more than six points.
Ultimately, the Hawkeye depth played a big factor in the victory.
“On a given night, we have about 10 guys who are capable of getting 20,” said Marble, who also had a team-high three assists and six boards. “Tonight, Mel and Pete played really well and getting out in transition helped. They were able to make quick moves and get to the hoop.”
Iowa has now scored at least 82 points in all but one game this season. The Hawkeyes next host Farleigh Dickinson at 6 p.m. Monday before traveling to Ames to face the No. 17 ranked Cyclones at 8:30 p.m. Friday. There were 11 ties and seven lead changes in the game. Drake will take the week off for finals before returning to action Saturday. Tipoff at the Knapp Center is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. as the Bulldogs host New Mexico State. Caird came into the game having scored just 48 points in the first seven games, but the game-high 21 he scored against Iowa on Saturday pushed his season average to 8.6 points per game. “They were just leaving me open tonight,” Caird said. “That was pretty much it.” Jok said coming back to Des Moines wasn’t any more special than the other games he played in an Iowa uniform this year. “I just tried to treat it like another game,” said Jok, who has now scored in double-figures five times this season. “I do feel as comfortable (in Wells Fargo Arena) as I do at Carver.”