Hawkeyes columnist Chad Leistikow and sports reporter Chris Cuellar talk about the Hawkeye basketball team's recent successes. Also, a quick look ahead to spring football with an injury update on Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard.
IOWA CITY, Ia. — You’ve got to love Jarrod Uthoff.
The 6-foot-9 Iowa senior has moved himself into the discussion for Big Ten Conference MVP and first-team all-America. Not that he’s aware of it.
“I don’t have television, Internet,” Uthoff said. “I just do my own thing.”
Really, he doesn’t have Internet at home.
“No,” Uthoff said Sunday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena after the Hawkeyes’ 83-71 win over Purdue. “I come here for Internet.”
So he won’t take repeated looks at Sunday’s gorgeous full-court drive and left-handed dunk against Purdue.
And when Iowa moves up from No. 9 to possibly No. 5 or even higher in Monday’s weekly media and coaches’ Top 25s, Uthoff will intentionally shut it out.
He has his reasons.
“I don’t know about those guys, (but) I don’t. I stay away from it,” Uthoff said. “It does you no good to look at that stuff. All it really does is get selfish thoughts in your mind. It gets you over-confident. And when you’re over-confident, you end up losing.”
You’d have to say, it’s working. Iowa has won 13 consecutive Big Ten regular-season games. And with 22 points Sunday, Uthoff has scored 20-plus points in five of his last six games.
Instead of surfing the Internet, the Big Ten’s scoring leader studies (he's all-academic Big Ten), plays hoops and hangs out with his fiancée, Jessie Jordan. On road trips, card games with teammates trump TV time.
“On the road, I used to (watch TV),” he said. “But now we play so many games of spades, I don’t have time to.”
The Iowa senior talks Adam Woodbury, shutting out the hype.
Best. Crowd. Ever. (In a while, anyway)
Carver-Hawkeye's second straight sellout crowd of 15,400 was rocking Sunday. The players noticed.
“They were awesome,” fourth-year point guard Mike Gesell said. “That was probably the most energy Carver’s had since I’ve been here. They really brought it today. It’s fun to have that backing. It was a sweet atmosphere out there.”
Mike Gesell, a fourth-year starter, says the fans helped fuel Sunday's 83-71 win.
How about that bench?
Purdue coach Matt Painter spoke afterward about how tough it was to defend Iowa’s array of tall 3-point shooters. But what impressed him most about the Hawkeyes were their four guys off the bench.
During Iowa’s 23-6 run to start the second half, five different Hawkeyes hit 3-pointers — three of them, Brady Ellingson, Dom Uhl and Nicholas Baer, were reserves.
“The thing I would say about Iowa,” Painter began, “is a lot of people have good teams that don’t want to get to their bench. But these guys don’t have much of a drop-off. And in fact, against teams like us, they tend to improve.”
Best day for Brady
Ellingson converted the first two 3-pointers of his Big Ten career Sunday.
The redshirt freshman from Sussex, Wis., had been sparingly used of late but made a high-impact 3-pointer in each half, plus a driving layup for eight points in 11 minutes.
In the first seven games of his conference career (he played one a year ago before receiving a medical redshirt), Ellingson totaled two points in 37 minutes.
“I always have confidence in my shot,” he said. “They felt good today.”
If Ellingson can be that off-the-bench sharpshooter, as is the hope with him, he’ll offer yet another difficult dimension for Hawkeye opponents to scout.
“He never loses his confidence, and he’s rock solid,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, who played Ellingson just two minutes each vs. Michigan and Rutgers. “No mistakes. ... I'm really happy for him.”
Hands off, please
Iowa wingman Peter Jok was hounded by Purdue’s top defender, Rapheal Davis. Jok was visibly struggling to break loose at times, despite new rules in college basketball to limit hand-checking.
Davis was assigned to Uthoff in the previous meeting on Jan. 2, but Painter thought it was important to shut down Jok, who had scored 68 points in Iowa's three prior games.
“They were holding me,” Jok said. “(Officials) told coach I was acting. I guess I’ve got to stop acting. I don’t know.”
Jok still produced a solid outing, with 13 points on 6-for-12 shooting with three steals.
Gesell had gone four consecutive halves without a made basket until his 3-pointer early in Sunday's second half. That was his only made bucket on seven attempts.
Gesell said he’s been battling through ankle and hamstring injuries. He had five assists and tied a season high with five turnovers Sunday. He didn’t think his health would be a lingering issue.
“I got a massage before the game to get the hammy loosened up,” he said. “Once you get out there on the floor and hear the crowd, you realize how big the game is, you kind of forget about the little nagging injuries.”
In sweeping Purdue this year, Iowa has put up a pair of 50-point second halves — 50-26 on Jan. 2, 50-36 on Sunday. The Hawkeyes shot a combined 33-for-53 (62.3 percent) after halftime against the Big Ten’s leader in field-goal percentage defense (36.7 percent entering Sunday).
“They’re a tough team for us to match up against,” Painter said. “They have so much skill.”