IOWA CITY, Ia. – Iowa became an offense-first basketball team last season. That didn't work out so well.
Now, in the early stages of the 2014-15 season, defense is carrying the Hawkeyes. And the offense remains a work in progress.
"I thought we were pretty locked in," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said after Wednesday's 70-49 victory against Northern Illinois. "Our offense was still not where we want it to be. So it was absolutely critical that our defense be exactly that. We didn't go for shot fakes. Other than the 23 offensive rebounds, we really played well defensively."
Iowa, 4-2 heading into Saturday's 1 p.m. game with Longwood at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, has allowed just 59.8 points per game this season. Texas is the only team to reach 70 points to date. The 10th-ranked Longhorns beat Iowa 71-57 in the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York.
McCaffery, whose team is averaging 73.2 points a game, is looking for consistency on that end of the floor. Jarrod Uthoff and Mike Gesell both scored 15 points against Pepperdine on Monday. Two days later, both failed to score and were a combined 0-for-10 from the field against Northern Illinois.
Gesell did have five assists to one turnover. And Uthoff blocked five shots, had four assists to one turnover and added six rebounds. Uthoff attempted just four shots from the field against Northern Illinois.
"(Uthoff) was a little uncomfortable," McCaffery said. "But five blocks, six rebounds. Traffic rebounds, too. Four assists. I told him, you played a heck of a game."
Longwood is Iowa's final test before going to North Carolina for a game against the fifth-ranked Tar Heels in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday.
Iowa is expected to be at full strength Saturday. Senior center Gabe Olaseni, whose father passed away Wednesday before the Northern Illinois game, is expected to play. Olaseni will return to his home in London, England, at some point. Arrangements for his father's services are pending.