Iowa shakes off Rutgers late
By LUKE MEREDITH
AP Sports Writer
IOWA CITY — Iowa is a young team loaded with potential.
The Hawkeyes were nearly a victim of their own inexperience on Sunday against a Rutgers team that still hasn’t won a Big Ten road game.
Senior Peter Jok scored 18 points with 11 rebounds and Iowa rallied from nine down to beat Rutgers 68-62 and move back to .500 in the Big Ten.
Freshman Cordell Pemsl had 13 for the Hawkeyes (10-7, 2-2 Big Ten), who used improved defense to key a late 17-4 run that clinched their seventh win in nine games.
“Instead of rolling over, we decided to come out as a collective unit and get stops that led to easy buckets. We did that down the stretch,” Pemsl said.
Iowa committed 18 turnovers, got crushed on the offensive glass 19-9 and went over eight minutes without a field goal. But the Hawkeyes woke up after 30 sluggish minutes, and Jordan Bohannon’s layup off a steal gave the Hawkeyes a 57-55 lead with 3:59 left.
Nicholas Baer’s jumper made it 63-59 with 1:08 to go and Iowa’s Dominique Uhl, ineffective for much of the season, scored 10 points and had eight rebounds.
Deshawn Freeman had 19 points and 13 rebounds for Rutgers (11-6, 0-4), who fell to 0-21 on the road since joining the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights hit just two free throws and four 3s.
“We’re getting better,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “We’ve played three out of four on the road against really good teams. We’ve strung together some good halves. (Sunday) we probably played 34 minutes of real good basketball. But it’s a 40-minute league.”
Iowa: The Hawkeyes might have been beaten by every other team in the Big Ten playing like it did on Sunday. Because it played Rutgers, Iowa survived. But the Hawkeyes have a lot to clean up if they hope to finish anywhere near .500 in the league. Still, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery believed the Scarlet Knights have improved a lot under Pikiell. “They’re a different team offensively and a different team defensively…we’ve got to credit those kids,” McCaffery said.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights lost their first three Big Ten games by an average of 20.3 points, so this was progress. But outside of its trip to Penn State on Feb. 4, Rutgers doesn’t have many realistic chances to snap that Big Ten road losing streak.
Baer, Iowa’s spark off the bench, had five points, five rebounds and three steals. But it was Baer’s last bucket that saved the Hawkeyes. He broke free on an inbounds play for a clean look at the basket, drilling it from about 12 feet to make it a two-possession game. Mike Williams then missed a 3, and the Scarlet Knights were forced to start fouling.
Nigel Johnson and Corey Sanders each scored 13 points for the Scarlet Knights, who had 17 assists on 28 baskets. …Bohannon had eight points, eight assists and four turnovers. But he hit all four of his free throws. …Hawkeyes freshman forward Tyler Cook struggled, hitting 1 of 6 shots from the floor and grabbing just two rebounds. …Rutgers outscored Iowa 40-26 in the paint.
HE SAID IT
“We were careless. They’re a good team, so they were rushing us into some dumb decisions. But, for the most part, toward the end of the game we started taking care of the ball,” Bohannon said about Iowa’s turnovers.
Iowa hosts No. 20 Purdue on Thursday. The Boilermakers throttled Iowa 89-67 in their Big Ten opener.
Rutgers hosts Northwestern on Thursday.