Woodbury dunks, Iowa rolls past helpless Rutgers

Chad Leistikow

IOWA CITY, Ia. – After a week of frustration, the Iowa basketball team welcomed the perfect punching bag into Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Hawkeyes rocked and socked Rutgers, handing the Scarlet Knights their 10th consecutive loss in an 81-47 win Thursday.

It was Iowa's largest margin of victory in a Big Ten Conference win in the Fran McCaffery era, topping two 26-point wins over Northwestern a year ago.

You knew this night was going to be a good one when Adam Woodbury — a self-described below-the-rim 7-foot-1 center — dunked not-once-but-twice in the first 4½ minutes, bringing his unofficial dunk total this season to … two.

"I knew you guys were going to talk about that," Woodbury laughed afterward. "Sometimes I dunk it. Most of the time I don't."

Woodbury's first dunk was a left-handed throwdown. On the second, he dribbled down the lane for a two-handed power dunk — with a brief rim-hang, to boot — and a 12-5 Iowa lead.

"I have played with for him three years; I've never seen him hang on the rim like that," teammate Aaron White grinned. "He must've been feeling himself or something.

"A lot of people knock him, but he's a pretty athletic dude for 7-foot. I can't wait to watch that on film. That was hilarious."

Woodbury said his second dunk felt like a drill, as Rutgers' defense parted like the Red Sea did for Moses.

As it turned out, it was a great night for all of Iowa's big men — and much-needed overall for the Hawkeyes, who spent the past week answering questions about befuddling losses to below-.500 Big Ten teams Minnesota and Northwestern.

The Hawkeyes struggled last week to score interior points — 30 combined paint points in the two losses, compared with 80 the previous week in wins over Michigan and Maryland. Thursday, they had 32.

Jarrod Uthoff (6-foot-9) led the way with 14 points; 6-9 White added 13, 6-10 Gabe Olaseni 12, 6-8 Dom Uhl nine and Woodbury seven.

The beauty of Thursday's reassertion of an inside game was that it created open 3-point shots for Uthoff and Peter Jok (11 points). That duo combined to hit 5-of-9 3-pointers as Iowa racked up its highest point total since Game 2 of the season against North Dakota State.

Re-establishing the interior, McCaffery said, was "very important. I think that's who we are. You know, you want to kind of do that every game and establish it, like you said, and then also mix it up: Some perimeter shooting, some penetration, some post-up, some transition."

The result was Iowa improving to 16-10 overall, 7-6 in the Big Ten while barely breaking a sweat. White and Uthoff were the only starters to play more than 20 minutes.

"This is a confidence-booster. Rutgers isn't bad," Uthoff said of the only Big Ten team to beat Wisconsin. "For us to beat them like that says something."

Even though the Scarlet Knights (10-17, 2-12) were inferior, it was a welcomed sight for the announced 12,594 in attendance.

The game was such a breeze, rarely-used Kyle Denning entered the game with 6:39 to play.

The Hawkeyes put this one away in the first 8:08, racing to a 23-8 lead. They had 12 assists on 15 first-half baskets with one turnover. Rutgers? Well, it had no answer to Iowa's overall execution.

"Our activity defensively, and running in transition (were) two things we were able to do pretty well," White said. "The coaches write things on the board for a reason. They've got keys to the game for a reason. If we do 80 percent or more, or 75 percent or more, we usually win. That's what we were able to do tonight."