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Key sequence shows Iowa's grit in win over Illinois

Jok rebound leads to Uthoff 3 and 18-point lead

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  • Fran McCaffery news conference 1

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — If Iowa could save one sequence from this men’s basketball season and display it for posterity, a key second-half score at Illinois on Sunday might last for eternity.

Armed with a 15-point, second-half lead at a location known better for 15-point, second-half Hawkeye deficits, Iowa guard Peter Jok launched a 3-pointer that missed its mark. Jok followed his shot, scrambled and fought for the ball. He grabbed it and tossed it to forward Jarrod Uthoff, who was wide open from the 3-point line. Uthoff buried the shot to put Iowa up 18 in an eventual 77-65 victory.

That sequence shows everything that has Iowa (19-4, 10-1 Big Ten) ranked No. 5 in the latest Associated Press poll and alone atop the Big Ten standings. The Hawkeyes cruised to a double-digit lead — they’ve won nine league games by more than 10 points. They fought for a rebound and made a good pass; Iowa is third in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio. And the Hawkeyes buried the 3-pointer, which they’ve done on 39.7 percent of their attempts this year.

“I tried to score but I missed it,” Jok said. “I just saw the ball going around, so I dove on the floor trying to get the ball and I saw Ahmad (Wagner) and Jarrod, but I saw Jarrod wide open at the 3-point line so I threw it him. We needed a shot, we needed a bucket at that moment.”

“That play in particular I think really crushed them because it really took the air out of their sails,” Uthoff said. “That particular play got every bit of momentum on our side.”

For Jok — the game’s leading scorer at 23 points — to give up the ball in that circumstance left an impression with all of his teammates.

“That was a huge play,” Iowa guard Mike Gesell said. “I think that’s the kind of team that we have. We’re very unselfish. We’re going to make the plays we need to win. A play like that, diving on the floor, we’re up big at that point, he didn’t necessarily have to dive on the floor. But to have the court awareness to kick it out to one of our best shooters to knock down a 3, I think all of our guys are capable of making those plays, and that’s really what makes this team special.”

l Comments: (319) 339-3169; scott.dochterman@thegazette.com

Fran McCaffery news conference 2

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