Iowa improved to 12-3 overall and 3-0 in Big Ten play on Tuesday night when they defeated Nebraska 77-66. The Hawkeyes had defeated two top 15 teams before the win over the Huskers in Carver. Their wins over Michigan State and Purdue motivated voters to rank them at #19 in the AP Poll and #23 in the Coaches' Poll.
Iowa now heads to the Breslin Center for the repeat showdown with Michigan State on January 14.
Head coach Fran McCaffery met with the media after the victory over Nebraska to discuss the win and the fast start in the conference portion of the schedule.
ON MIKE GESELL'S OUTSTANDING PLAY...
"He was great. He needed to be great tonight because clearly (Anthony) Clemmons was not himself. He gave us a gutty 17 minutes, Anthony did. But he was not as explosive as he normally is. Put a lot of pressure on Mike, especially when they started pressing late. But I thought in that one stretch in the second half, he and Jarrod (Uthoff) kind of took the game over and made sure we won."
"He's just a terrific player, he's an incredibly hard worker, he's smart, he's got experience, he wants it badly. He's doing exaactly what I thought he would do. 10 assists, 22 points, 11-13 from the free-throw line. He essentially controlled the game is what he did."
"Yeah, nobody saw him more than I did (in recruiting). So I knew exactly what he was going to be. He was terrific for us when he first got here and the more he's really studied it because he was a big time scorer in high school. And I pretty much asked him to be the point guard and to get us into our stuff and understand time and score. And think of the guys he goes against night in and night out since he's been here, and what you're seeing in his development. He's in great shape physically, he's in a great place mentally, and everybody feels better when he's got the ball."
ON SWITCHING TO ZONE PRESS...
"It did two things. It (generated some offense), but it also generated some energy. We played with more energy. We started running more, the crowd got involved, the crowd got energized. Then our break was better, our ball movement was better. We only created nine turnovers, but a couple of them were right there and we were close to a couple more and got their offense a little bit sideways, I thought."
"We do it all the time. We pretty much are gong to go to that thing when we're on the free-throw line when we have a chance, maybe it's a dead ball. A lot of times early you don't get to the free-throw line, you don't get a lot of dead ball situations, you don't really get a chance to get into that defense. Then once we got in it, then we stayed in it because we had them a little bit sideways."
ON JARROD UTHOFF'S UNIQUE SKILL SET...
"But it's rarelly, it's rare that you see kind of a small forward with that kind of shot blocking. He can guard a small forward, he can guard a power forward, he can post. He gives you a lot of flexibility as a coach in terms of how you can use him. He can play fast, he can play slow. When it's all said and done, he doesn't rattle, he doesn't get nervous, he's going to make big shots. He's going to take shots. If you get on him, he looks at you funny like, coach, I have everything under control, no need to worry. So, it's great to have a guy like that on your team."
ON ANTHONY CLEMMONS' HEALTH...
"Yeah, he's hurting. Nine days should be plenty (to get back to where he needs to be)."