Brown: Peter Jok outshines Petteway in Iowa cakewalk

Rick Brown
Iowa's Peter Jok (3) reacts after hitting a 3-point basket as Nebraska's Tai Webster, left, looks on during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lincoln, Neb., Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Hyperbole is not part of Mike Gesell's repertoire. So when Iowa's junior point guard poured lavish praise on teammate Peter Jok after Sunday's 74-46 dismantling of Nebraska at Pinnacle Bank Arena, my ears perked up.

"I thought he was the best two-guard on the floor," Gesell said. "And that's saying a lot."

Jok scored 14 points in his team's fourth road win of an ebb-and-flow Big Ten season. But it was his defense on Nebraska all-Big Ten two-guard Terran Petteway that caught Gesell's attention.

"Every game, Coach (Billy) Taylor asks me who is the best two-guard in the gym," Jok said. "I always say it's me. I knew this was going to be a tough matchup, because (Pettway) can score in so many ways. He has the ultimate green light."

Pettway finished with 16 points, but made just 1-of-8 3-pointers and was 5-for-15 from the field. Jok, guard Anthony Clemmons or someone else in an Iowa uniform hawked him the entire game and made his life miserable.

Iowa's NCAA drive took a turn up this week, beating Rutgers and Nebraska by a combined 62 points to improve to 8-6 in the Big Ten and 17-10 overall. It came a week after losses at home to Minnesota and at Northwestern in overtime had this inconsistent season headed in a different direction.

Iowa senior forward Aaron White orchestrated a team meeting last Monday morning to hash things out and get zeroed in on the task at hand.

"We needed to go out and play like that, play together," White said after an 18-point, 11-rebound day. "When we do that, we're a pretty good team."

Nebraska? Not so much. Iowa's solid play got an assist from an underachieving Cornhusker team that made just 2-of-18 3-pointers, shot 32.7 percent from the field and didn't seem real interested in playing once Iowa built a lead.

Afterwards, Nebraska coach Tim Miles suggested his team go out and pick up garbage "to pay back the fans for their tickets."

This might have been the most complete game of Jok's college career. And there was Clemmons, who looks like he's left his sophomore slump in the back seat for good. Seeing action at both guard spots, he had eight points, three assists, a steal and none of Iowa's eight turnovers in 25 rock-solid minutes.

Jarrod Uthoff had 11 points, five rebounds and four blocked shots. He also kept Nebraska's Shavon Shields, who had scored 25 points in the season's first meeting, under wraps. Shields had a season-low three points.

Iowa's 18-5 lead had shrunk to 21-14 with just over six minutes to play when Iowa coach Fran McCaffery called timeout. What did he say?

"I wish I could tell you it was something incredibly intelligtent or inspirational," McCaffery said.

Relax and stick to the game plan, he told his team. And then Iowa went out and finished the half on a 21-2 run, scoring on 10 of 11 possessions after the time out. Five different players scored in the run.

"It's really fantastic when everyone is cooking like that," Uthoff said.

McCaffery admitted he marveled at the way his team was playing in that stretch.

"Every coach tries to get your team to play like that," McCaffery said. "We have played like that, and not played like that. When it all comes together, and they're playing unselfishly and they're playing defense, that's the best feeling as a coach."

The ultimate challenge is to play that way all the time. Doing it Wednesday against Illinois at home would be a good start.