IOWA CITY, Iowa - Sometimes positives are hidden when you're playing a vastly inferior opponent. An impressive win is expected.
Luckily for Iowa on Saturday, its 77-47 blowout of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County featured some tangible signs of progress:
-Iowa played energized in a game where a letdown from Wednesday's upset at North Carolina could have been understandable.
"I think that definitely shows the character that we have on this team," point guard Mike Gesell said. "You have a big win like that on the road and then a game like this, a lot of people call them trap games to where you might not be up to play a game like this. We came ready to play and I think we did a real good job defensively."
-Peter Jok broke out of an offensive slump. The sophomore guard connected on 5 of 11 shots from the floor, including 4 of 6 from behind the arc, and totaled a season-high 15 points to go with three steals and two assists without a turnover. He'd come into the contest 7 of 28 from the field (2 of 12 on threes).
"I've been playing pretty good in practice and in games it's just not going in," Jok said. "I knew sooner or later it was going to start falling."
-Gabe Olaseni continued to play through the grief of his father's recent passing. The senior center scored 15 points, grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and blocked three shots.
"It's not really directly because of (losing his father)," Olaseni said. "I just feel like I should play well. I feel as though if that didn't happen I would be playing the same way. I try not to focus on that right now. Obviously, when I go back home it will hit me a lot harder than it has even though it has hit me hard. I'm just trying to be a professional and understand that regardless of what happens outside of college basketball, you still have to produce when your name is called."
-Coach Fran McCaffery dug deep into his bench after a long trip to Chapel Hill and a late-night return home on Wednesday, saving his players' legs for a big upcoming match-up with Iowa State on Friday. Against UMBC, no Iowa starter played more than 17 minutes.
Iowa (7-2), who won for the fifth time in a row, was locked in a 6-6 tie early in Saturday's contest. The Hawkeyes then scored the game's next 20 points and would eventually pull ahead by as many as 35. The outcome wasn't in doubt midway through the first half.
"You could tell we were going to be ready for this game," McCaffery said. "It was not going to be a letdown or anything like that."
Iowa plays one more warm-up contest before the Cyclones come to town. Alcorn State visits Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday at 8 p.m (ESPN News).
TIP-INS: Olaseni originally planned to return to his London home for his father's services after the North Carolina game. He said Saturday that arrangements changed and he'll head back across the Atlantic Ocean the day after the Iowa State contest…UMBC turned the ball over 26 times…Iowa freshman Brady Ellingson connected on his only shot Saturday, a three-pointer. He's 3 for 4 from behind the arc in three games since returning from injury…Captain Aaron White notched a quiet 14 points on 5 of 7 shooting…Jarrod Uthoff added 11 points, six rebounds and three assists without a turnover…After connecting on 3 of 6 trey attempts last week against Longwood, Josh Oglesby has sunk back into a shooting funk. He missed both tries Saturday after coming up empty on three at North Carolina…Iowa's five-game winning streak is its longest since starting last season with seven victories…The Hawkeyes tallied 20 assists on 29 field goals against UMBC.