Fairly easy for No. 23 Iowa
IOWA CITY – With an early start time, a late-arriving crowd and a huge rivalry game to look ahead to, No. 23 Iowa could have easily overlooked heavy underdog Fairleigh Dickinson.
The Hawkeyes still had more than enough energy to put aside the Knights.
Gabe Olaseni tied a career high with 14 points and had 10 rebounds as Iowa pulled away to a 92-59 victory Monday night, its 10th win of the season.
Melsahn Basabe had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Hawkeyes (10-1), who broke the game open with an early 19-0 run and led by at least 20 points for the entire second half.
Iowa got 51 points from its bench, which was led by Olaseni and Jarrod Uthoff, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“The bench has been great. We got the break going. We threw it ahead, really attacked,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
Iowa outrebounded the Knights 54-32, including 30-13 in the first half, and cracked the 90-point plateau for the fourth time this season.
Mathias Seilund led Fairleigh Dickinson (3-9) with 19 points and Sidney Sanders had 16 – albeit on 5-of-20 shooting from the field.
The Knights shot 32.3 percent overall (21 of 65).
FDU defeated fellow New Jersey schools Rutgers and Seton Hall in consecutive road games this season. But the Knights have also lost to the likes of Metro State and Norfolk State – and top-ranked Arizona beat them 100-50 last month.
It didn’t take long for Iowa to let FDU know it was in for a long night.
The Knights scored the first six points, but once the Hawkeyes got rolling they had no answer. Iowa reeled off 19 straight points – and scored on 11 straight possessions at one point in the first half – to take a comfortable double-digit lead.
Iowa, which later went on a 13-2 run for a 40-18 lead, committed just eight turnovers against 19 assists.
“They’re really good. We played Arizona, and I think Iowa is probably in that class,” Knights coach Greg Herenda said. “They’re very deep. They’re very long. They’re well coached. Preparing for them, we couldn’t find a weakness, and then we didn’t find a weakness.”
About the only thing that didn’t go smoothly for the Hawkeyes was that star Devyn Marble took 22 minutes to get his first basket – on Devyn Marble bobblehead night.
They didn’t need Marble to do much on a night when Olaseni continued to show why he could be one of the breakout players in the Big Ten this season.
Olaseni averaged just 1.4 and 2.7 points as a freshman and sophomore, respectively. But he’s up to 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds as a junior – and his 23 blocks lead the Hawkeyes.
“You can see it coming with Gabe. I mean, every game he just seems to get better,” McCaffery said. “You can see how much more comfortable he is. … I love the aggressiveness and the confidence he has in himself right now.”
Now Iowa can focus on one of its biggest non-conference game in years.
Iowa will play its first true road game of the season Friday night at No. 17 Iowa State – the first ranked meeting between the instate rivals in 26 years.
“You try not to look forward too much. But now that this game is over with, we’re looking forward to playing Iowa State,” Uthoff said.