IOWA CITY, Iowa - This week's three-game Hawkeye invitational continued Wednesday night here. Northern Illinois played the role of punching bag.
Iowa steamrolled the Huskies, 70-49, in front of a small Thanksgiving eve crowd at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes moved to 4-2 on the campaign and will wrap up the invitational Saturday with a 1 p.m. contest against Longwood of the Big South Conference.
It's not really called the Hawkeye invitational, officially. It just seems a fitting description with three home games against soft competition in six days. To Iowa's credit it's two thirds of the way to the sweep after beating Pepperdine Monday evening and then NIU two days later.
Truthfully, the drop down in competition arrived just in time for the Hawkeyes. They lost games to Texas and Syracuse in New York City last week when weakness were exposed following a 2-0 start against a couple of bad teams in Hampton and North Dakota State.
Iowa learned a lesson in Madison Square Garden. It must buckle down on defense when the shots aren't falling, something that hurt it last season.
The Hawkeye defense looked better in a 72-61 win against Pepperdine. Wednesday, they locked down NIU, holding the Huskies to 17 of 61 (27.9 percent) from the floor and turning them over 17 times leading to 22 points.
Jarrod Uthoff and Gabe Olaseni, whose father passed away earlier in the day, held a block party, swatting five and four shots, respectively. Uthoff scored just two points on 0 of 4 shooting from the floor but he also handed out four assists and grabbed six rebounds.
Playing with a heavy heart, Olaseni connected on 5 of 7 shots from the field and finished with 10 points and five rebounds. He backed up starting center Adam Woodbury, who continued his strong early season with 12 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes.
Captain Aaron White shared high scoring honors with Anthony Clemmons, each netting 14. Josh Oglesby hit two of his first three trey attempts before missing his last three tires from behind the arc. The senior finished with nine.
Peter Jok struggled early, picking up two fouls and turning it over once in the first half. The sophomore bounced back to connect on a couple of two-pointers after the intermission.
Freshman Dom Uhl returned to action after missing Monday's game (coach's decision). He grabbed five rebounds in seven minutes.
Brady Ellingson saw his first game time in college after undergoing foot surgery this summer. He made 1 of 2 from the foul line in three minutes. McCaffery said there was still chance to redshirt the guard if he experiences too much pain in his foot.
After breaking out for 15 points on Monday, starting point guard Mike Gesell took a step backwards against NIU. The junior missed all six of his field goal attempts and was scoreless in 27 minutes. He did hand out five assists against just one turnover and pulled down three rebounds.