IOWA CITY, Ia. — If Saturday is any indication, the Iowa men’s basketball team is going to be a lot more than its starting five.
Sure, the starters remain the core group that will ultimately push the Hawkeyes more times than not this season, but the bench can also be a force, as they were en route to a 95-75 win over Missouri-Kansas City Saturday afternoon at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa (6-2) produced 53 points off the bench, 56 percent of its scoring on the day. UMKC (5-3), by contrast, had 29 bench points.
“We have a very, very deep team,” senior Mike Gesell said. “There’s a lot of guys in that second group that can make an impact. I think they gave us a big spark and they played very well. They executed the game plan and they all did what they were capable of doing.”
Redshirt freshman Nicholas Baer and sophomore Dom Uhl were the main threats from the second unit. Uhl posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Baer notched 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting from 3-point range. Freshman Ahmad Wagner recorded nine points and five rebounds and redshirt freshman Brady Ellingson added seven points.
Up 68-55, the Hawkeyes — with those four on the floor plus Gesell — went on an 11-0 run to put the game further out of reach.
“I thought we got a lead that was a decent lead, but it wasn’t a comfortable lead,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “We were content to trade in both halves. That’s where we need to be more intense and get consecutive stops. We had 53 points off the bench. That’s a lot of points. I’m really proud of those guys.”
Seniors Jarrod Uthoff and Anthony Clemmons each scored 13 points to add to the scoring output for the Black and Gold, and junior Peter Jok had 10 points.
There was a lot of variety in the victory.
“When you look at our team, we have a lot of X-factor guys that can come in and impact the game,” Baer said. “Our stars are always so consistent with our senior leadership and we can rely on them, but a strength of our team is having balance.
“One night it can be Dom, or me or Brady, or anybody coming off the bench ready to contribute. I think balance is a key for our team.”