It wasn't pretty at all. Iowa played down to the level of their opponent for the first time all year. There wasn't really any one area to point to why they didn't play up to the standard they have set all year. But they came out flat and still grinded out a 75-71 win over Minnesota.
Iowa didn't shoot particularly well from the field in either half. Adam Woodbury was in foul trouble. They didn't get many second chance opportunities. Some of the credit has to go to Minnesota as they just kept Iowa in check for the most part. The one guy they had no answer for throughout the game was Peter Jok.
Jok lead all scorers with 27 points. Jarrod Uthoff also poured in 24 points to combine with his 15 rebounds and 5 blocks for a double-double. Anthony Clemmons reached double figures as well with his 12 points.
Here are the takeaways.
SLOW STARTS CONTINUE
A slow start against Indiana hurt Iowa. They also started slow against Purdue in West Lafayette despite the sensational comeback. They started slow against Minnesota Sunday night. I think reasons for all three are different. Sometimes you have to credit the opponent and the venue in the cases of the Boilermakers and Hoosiers. Tonight, it was probably the first time they were just lackadaisical and playing down to the opponent. Either way, it needs cleaned up. A slow start like tonight against a better opponent and they are probably playing from behind again.
BENCH HITTING A WALL?
The bench hasn't played well in three of the last four games. They didn't score against Indiana. They only scored two points in the first half against Minnesota. You can blame the Indiana game being many of the guys' first game in Assembly Hall. There's no excuses in Carver-Hawkeye Arena against the Gophers. So, is it that the bench is young and getting worn down by the longer schedule and Big Ten slate? It's certainly possible. It definitely seems like they've hit a wall in ways. There were getting much more scoring production earlier on, especially from Nicholas Baer and Dom Uhl.
WHY IT'S NICE TO HAVE TWO GREAT SCORERS
Jarrod Uthoff was pretty cold for most of the first half. But no need to worry, here comes Peter Jok to the rescue. It's very rare that both are going to be cold and it's so tough to keep a lid on both of them. If they didn't have two elite scorers they probably fall behind quite a bit against the Gophers in the first half. This is why teams with multiple scorers capable of going off in any instant are the most dangerous in March. This is the difference between good teams and great teams.
ALONE IN FIRST PLACE
That's all that matters. It wasn't a pretty game. It wasn't a pretty performance. But with Maryland falling at home to Wisconsin on Saturday and the Hoosiers getting drilled in East Lansing Sunday afternoon, the Hawkeyes are back alone in first place. A win is a win and you move on and correct your mistakes. Iowa gets to go back to work knowing they once again control their own destiny and there's not much more you can ask for at this point.
It's th end of the Big Ten season and it's blatantly obvious. Shots are coming up short more often. Guys don't always have the same energy night in and night out. I think it's possible that Fran McCaffery may decide to get a bit creative and allow for more rest for his guys. They are a great team but you want them fresh and they look far from it right now. A little break might suit them well but you can't do it in-game when you're involved with close games in the Big Ten schedule and in a race for an outright Big Ten championship. It wouldn't surprise me that behind the scenes Fran comes up with a way to try to get a bit more bounce out of his team as they start to feel the affects from a full regular season.