Jok looks good, Hawkeyes get comfortable home win vs. UMBC

Chad Leistikow

Iowa Hawkeyes guard Peter Jok (3) attempts a shot against the UMBC Retrievers at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa won 77-47.

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Coaches probably hear it all the time. But that didn't stop Peter Jok from making the request.

Jok said he pulled Iowa coach Fran McCaffery aside after Friday's basketball practice. The message?

"I told coach I needed to play more," Jok said.

Whether it was Jok's appeal, the opponent (winless Maryland-Baltimore County) or a little of both, McCaffery made sure his struggling sophomore got a decent run Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Jok was McCaffery's first substitute off the bench and tied career highs in minutes (24) and points (15) in Iowa's 77-47 win before an announced crowd of 13,094.

"He's had some great workouts," McCaffery said. "He shot it really well after we got back (from North Carolina), and it's great to see him get going and the guys look for him."

The freshman struggles of Jok were well-documented. He couldn't play defense. He got tired easily. In the offseason, he was arrested twice.

"When we started Big Ten last year, that was most of the reason I didn't play … because of my defense," said Jok, the only recruit of McCaffery's Class of 2013, out of West Des Moines Valley. "This year, I feel like if I'm good on defense, I'm going to play a lot. And if I play a lot, I'm going to be a huge help on the team."

Saturday, Jok was 4-of-6 from 3-point range and collected three steals, two rebounds, two assists and no turnovers in his most complete game of the season — and maybe his career.

He entered the game averaging 3.3 points and shooting 25 percent from the floor and had been searching for ways to get in the offensive flow.

In Wednesday's 60-55 win at No. 12 North Carolina, Jok played nine minutes and went scoreless — going 0-for-4 from the field.

"I watched film," Jok said, "and I noticed I was rushing a lot on the court. I didn't look comfortable."

Saturday offered a chance for Jok and some of his teammates to find a rhythm.

Iowa (7-2) raced to a 26-6 lead, making it a short afternoon for the regulars. Aaron White and Mike Gesell played 17 minutes each, the most for any starter. (White had 14 points, five rebounds and three steals in the limited action.)

Gabe Olaseni continued his excellent inside play, tying a career high with 15 points. He added seven rebounds and three blocked shots.

Trey Dickerson looked sharp, with six points and three assists in 20 minutes.

The easy win against the 0-8 Retrievers, No. 329 out of 351 Division I teams in RPI, wasn't a cure-all for everyone. Senior guard Josh Oglesby (0-for-4) went scoreless in 21 minutes.

But if Jok can regularly contribute an outside threat the Hawkeyes desperately need, don't be surprised if he starts eating into Oglesby's minutes.

"What's been impressive to me, is he's been really active defensively," McCaffery said. "He's really locked in, and he's not breaking down at all. So when he's out there, if the shot's going, he's really good. If the shot's not going, he's still playing like an experienced player that can help you win."

One play of Jok's isn't in the box score. In the second half, he sealed off a post player with a solid back screen, allowing teammate Dom Uhl to break open for a baseline alley-oop dunk.

It's those little things that will help Jok continue to accrue court time.

"He doesn't really play for stats. He just wants to help the team," Olaseni said. "Once he scores like that, I think we're a lot better. I'm happy for him."