There was a certain buzz in the air that hasn’t been in Carver Hawkeye Arena in quite some time. You could just feel it. This season marks the most anticipated Iowa Men’s Basketball season in my recent memory, and you can tell. The Hawkeyes played in front of a record crowd for a home opener at 15,293 people. That’s the largest crowd for a home opener in the last 12 years and the Hawkeyes did not disappoint as they routed the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks by a score of 82-39.
The Hawkeyes did it behind incredible balance scoring the basketball as just about every player that saw the floor scored and behind a tenacity on the defensive end that is tough to match. The Hawkeyes forced 13 turnovers in the first half of the game and 14 total.
There was a lot of speculation as to how newcomers Jarrod Uthoff and Peter Jok would play, well, they did not disappoint either. “What I have repeatedly done with those two guys is given them the green light” said Fran McCaffery. He was not lying. Jok had 11 points on 5-13 shooting and you can tell he is not afraid to shoot. He also had 5 rebounds in his 20 minutes of play. Uthoff led the team in scoring at 14 points and in rebounds at 7. He played just 19 minutes.
The most minutes any Hawkeye would play in the game was 20. Devyn Marble led the team in assists at 5 for the game and he sat out a majority of the second half.
I know it’s not a very big sample size, but the ability of this team to go 10 deep, and when Josh Oglesby is back, 11 deep could be very important as the winter starts to progress.
Another highlight for the Hawkeyes was the play on the defensive side of the ball by Gabe Olaseni. “Gabe was flying tonight, on the glass, blocking shots, running the floor” said Fran McCaffery at his post game press conference. Olaseni had five blocks in the first half of the game and was very active on the offensive side even though he only shot 1-8. He ended the night with 8 points, 7 rebounds, and the 5 blocks mentioned earlier. Not a bad night from your backup center.
Iowa did a good job on the glass as they were +13 for the night and they did an even better job scoring in the paint. They outscored the Seahawks 42-16 in the painted area.
The biggest thing moving forward will be if Uthoff and Jok can give coach Fran McCaffery that kind of production night in and night out. We didn’t see much of Devyn Marble due to the blowout that was in progress, but if you can take pressure off him to score the basketball, this team will be dangerous.
Iowa will now turn their attention to Sunday as they will welcome the University of Nebraska-Omaha to town. I expect another packed house at Carver Hawkeye because as of right now, this team is the most exciting show in town.
Tip-off for Sunday is set for 3:30 p.m. CT.