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IOWA CITY, Iowa - Iowa ended a two-game skid Thursday night with a win against visiting Rutgers. The alternative was was unthinkable for the Hawkeyes and their fans.
The Scarlet Knights lugged a nine-game losing streak into the contest. Had Iowa fell to them after losing at Northwestern Sunday, the season could have spiraled out of control in a hurry. The Wildcats had dropped 10 contests in a row before breaking through against the Hawkeyes.
Iowa didn't allow the 14.5-point underdogs to entertain thoughts of an upset Thursday . The home team never trailed.
"Every win is big but when you go through a mini losing streak you always want to get back on track," Iowa Center Adam Woodbury said. "We were able to do it."
Junior forward Jarrod Uthoff led the Hawkeyes (16-10 overall, 7-6 Big Ten) in scoring for a second outing in a row, netting 14 points. He added four steals, three rebounds, two assists and a block in 25 minutes.
Senior Captain Aaron White rebounded from an awful performance at Northwestern with 13 points and a team-high eight boards. Gabe Olaseni (12) and Peter Jok (11) also reached double figures in scoring for the winners.
Iowa forced the Knights (10-17, 2-12) into 19 turnovers and enjoyed a 20-6 advantage in points off takeaways. The Hawkeyes shot 50.8 percent from the floor and won by the largest margin in Coach Fran McCaffery's five seasons at the school.
"That's kind of irrelevant to me as long as we win," he said. "I just want my guys to compete and play hard and execute and win. They did that."
Iowa built a 15-point lead with 11 minutes to play in the first half. The Hawkeyes' advantage never fell below 11 the rest of the way and reached as many as 34 in the second half.
White and Woodbury, who both struggled in Evanston last weekend, played a big role in getting their team going Thursday. They rattled the rim with thunderous dunks, which ignited a announced crowd of 12,594 (actual attendance was under 10,000).
Anthony Clemmons performed well off of the Iowa bench. The junior from Michigan dished out seven assists against just one turnover.
Overall, Iowa racked up 19 assists on 30 baskets, showing better ball movement and attention to running the offense, things missing in last week's losses to Northwestern and Minnesota. The Hawkeyes' press also aided in delivering easy baskets.
Iowa receives two days off before heading to Nebraska on Sunday. The Hawkeyes own a 70-59 victory against the Huskers in a game played Jan. 5 in Iowa City.
A win in Lincoln would look nice on Iowa's postseason resume.
"Nebraska has a great atmosphere and a good team and we're looking forward to it," Uthoff said.