IOWA CITY, Iowa - Few people would have blamed Josh Oglesby or his Iowa teammates if they were a little rusty Sunday afternoon. The junior guard missed the season's first 12 games with a broken foot. The Hawkeyes last played nine days ago and had finals this week.
Unfortunately for visiting Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the home team came out of the locker room as sharp as a tack. No. 25 Iowa built a 21-point lead seven minutes into the non-conference contest and cruised to a 86-61 victory at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"I think we have a maturity," Hawkeye Coach Fran McCaffery said of his team staying sharp during the layoff. "I would have been surprised if it was anything other than that."
The Hawkeyes (11-2) scored the game's first nine points and led 52-11 with just under a minute left in the first half. Pine Bluff finally reached double figures in points with 2:01 to play before the intermission.
"We had the right mindset," Iowa Center Adam Woodbury said. "We came in off a loss (at Iowa State). We knew we were hungry coming off that. We had to get back to work with nine days leading up to this game and we ended up showing out."
Oglesby, a junior from Cedar Rapids, underwent surgery in the preseason sidelining him until Sunday. He entered the game after about four minutes had passed and swished in a three-pointer shortly thereafter. He then drained his next three trey attempts in a six-minute stretch.
"It felt really good, especially just making my first shot so I could get in a groove of things," Oglesby said. "You know, this team is so unselfish and they found me and I knocked a few down."
Oglesby's struggles from deep last season were well documented. Some people wondered if there would be room for the junior in a crowded rotation. He showed Sunday why he has value by also grabbing two rebounds, dishing out two assists, registering a steal and playing some point guard.
"I thought he was really good," McCaffery said. "But not only did he make shots, he was passing it well. He looked very comfortable out there."
With the game out of hand early, McCaffery substituted liberally and started a different five to begin the second half than he did to open the game. Ten different Hawkeyes played at least 10 minutes and nobody more than 26. Leading scorers Roy Devyn Marble and Aaron White did not get off the bench after the intermission.
Sophomore Jarrod Uthoff led a balanced scoring attack with 16 points aided by 3 of 4 shooting from behind the arc. Oglesby finished with 13 and Woodbury added 10. The Golden Lions (2-9) were shown no mercy.
"I have yet to see with this group, you know, oh, they came out flat; they were looking past that team to get to that game," McCaffery said. "It hasn't happened. It didn't happen against Fairleigh Dickinson or before the Iowa State game and didn't happen before we went to Atlantis and there's a lot of expectation there. So I knew pretty much that that wasn't going to happen to this team."
The Hawkeyes ended up with 27 turnovers but many of them came with Pine Bluff pressing reserves with its starters late in the game. McCaffery also utilized various lineup combinations and had his team working on half-court offense while running down the shot clock.
"They were pressing the scout team," McCaffery said. "I've got a lot of inexperienced guys out there. It's no big deal."
Iowa opens Big Ten play New Year's Eve by playing host to Nebraska. The Hawkeyes enter league play with the same 11-2 mark it held a year ago.
"We've been tested on the road (at Iowa State), on a neutral floor (Battle for Atlantis), at home with Notre Dame," White said. "This year, more so than my first two years, this is probably our best schedule going into the Big Ten season. We've been ready for the Big Ten my first two years so we're for sure be ready this year."