Iowa CITY, Iowa - The Iowa basketball team still is very much a work in progress. It's hard to say if they made much of it on Monday night.
The Hawkeyes struggled with a pesky Pepperdine squad before posting a 72-61 victory. The West Coast Conference coaches this fall picked the Waves to finish tied for seventh in a 10-team conference.
Undersized and outmanned Pepperdine tied the Hawkeyes on the backboards, 39-39, and held a 28-24 advantage on the defensive glass. The Waves started a team with players listed at 5-10, 6-0, 6-3, 6-6 and 6-7. Those guys logged a lot of minutes (each at least 27) and still managed to tag Iowa big men Adam Woodbury and Gabe Olaseni with four fouls apiece.
Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said he was pleased with the performance against what he called a Pepperdine team that will win 20 games. Again, the Waves deserved credit but Iowa blows them if they perform better.
On the positive side, the Hawkeyes (3-2) played pretty good defense most of the night. Pepperdine turned the ball over 19 times and shot just 19 of 51 (37.3 percent) from the floor, including an ugly 7 of 27 (25.9) on threes. The home team enjoyed a 22-4 advantage in points off a turnovers and racked up 12 steals.
Speaking of turnovers, Iowa only gave it away 12 times, a season low. They totaled 18 in a 66-63 loss to Syracuse in New York City on Friday.
Starting guard Mike Gesell also rebounded from a rough time in Madison Square Garden last week. After shooting just 3 of 15 from the floor in losses to the Orange and Texas, the junior connected on 4 of 7 attempts from the floor Monday, including all thereof his three-point tries. He added four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Gesell's backcourt mate, Anthony Clemmons, also bounced back from his woes in the Big Apple, where he was 2 of 11 from the field. Monday, he hit 3 of 5 including 2 of 3 from behind the arc.
Aaron White continued his strong play for the Hawkeyes. The senior scored a game-high 17 points to go with a team-best nine rebounds. He rolled up four steals but did turn it over a three times.
Jarrod Uthoff played as aggressively as he had all season, scoring 15 and grabbing eight boards. The junior missed nine of 15 shots from the floor but they were good looks for the most part. He also added three assists, two steals and an impressive ally-oop dunk off a feed from Josh Oglesby.
Outside shooters Oglesby and Peter Jok remained cold from the perimeter, combining to go 1 of 11 from the floor (0-5 on treys). Together, they were 4 of 16 in New York.
Pepperdine's quickness hindered Woodbury and Olaseni, who combined for 14 points and 10 rebounds. Woodbury was 3 of 9 from the floor and Olaseni turned it over three times.
Reserve point guard Trey Dickerson played just four minutes. He missed his two field goal attempts and picked up two fouls. He did have a rebound and an assist.
Freshman Dominique Uhl did not play. McCaffery said he wished he could have played him, and Dickerson more, but couldn't find the right spots.
"We're playing an experienced, physical, very strong athletic team. And I thought it was a tough situation for Dom right now, to put him in where every possession is magnified," McCaffery said.
After averaging 17 minutes in Iowa's first two games, Uhl has played 2.0 per contest during the last three. Dickerson was at 18.0 after two and has been limited to 5.3 since then.