Iowa takeaways: Clemmons' redemption, the big stat, an active bench
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Anthony Clemmons feels like he gave away three crucial points to Temple. But he made them up in overtime of Iowa’s 72-70 first-round NCAA Tournament win.
Temple had the ball and a 68-66 lead as the clock wound under 2 minutes, but Clemmons’ quick hands stripped Quenton DeCosey of the ball, and he fed to Peter Jok for a fast-break lay-in and foul — a 3-point play and 69-68 Hawkeye lead with 1:52 to go.
“That was the big play of the game,” Jok would say later.
Clemmons was beating himself up after earlier fouling DeCosey on a 3-point attempt with 2 seconds left in regulation and Iowa leading, 63-60. Yes, he fouled him, by the way. DeCosey sank all three free throws. Overtime.
“I wanted to make it as tough as possible. He has a funky release,” Clemmons said. “I wasn’t expecting it. I fouled the guy. I admitted to (coach Fran McCaffery) that I did.”
Clemmons said his teammates offered encouragement after it happened.
“They said, 'You’ll be fine, go on to the next play,'” said Clemmons, who finished with six points, six assists and no turnovers in 36 minutes. “We knew we were going to go overtime. I knew I was going to get another opportunity to make up for it. Thank God it was a steal, transition bucket and an and-one. So I got the three points back.”
He made one of two free throws after Mike Gesell drew a charge on Temple’s next possession to put Iowa ahead 70-68. That helped set up Adam Woodbury’s game-winner at the buzzer.
Why Jok cooled off
Peter Jok, who had asthma and earlier in his career struggled with conditioning, played a career-high 39 minutes Friday, but that’s not why his shot was off as the game progressed.
Jok was sizzling early. His 3-pointer 2:33 into the game first put the Hawkeyes on the board. That bucket ignited a 19-point blitz on seven possessions — with Jok adding two more 3s, Clemmons one and Jarrod Uthoff one — in a span of 3:06 to put Iowa ahead 19-13.
But the second-team all-Big Ten Conference junior only made two baskets the rest of the way and finished 5-for-15 from the floor. He finished with 16 points and a team-best seven rebounds.
“As the game kept going on, I didn’t follow through on a lot of my shots,” Jok said. “I was drifting because I was feeling good.”
He said he’ll study film and rectify his shot in time for Sunday’s second-round game against Villanova at 11:10 a.m..
He was also putting his two missed free throws in four attempts at the end of regulation behind him.
“I don’t get nervous or anything. They just didn’t go in,” said Jok, a career 86 percent foul shooter. “I left it in the past. I wasn’t thinking about the free throws in overtime, I just wanted to win.”
The key stat
In a 45-minute game, Iowa tied a season low by committing three turnovers. The Hawkeyes’ first miscue didn’t occur until there was 3:39 left in regulation.
That was quite a (pleasant) change from the season-high 18 turnovers Iowa committed in the Big Ten Tournament loss to Illinois.
“We knew to win this game, we can’t turn it over,” Clemmons said. “We have to get a shot up every time.”
Temple, which led the nation in fewest turnovers per game at 9.2, was forced into 12.
“Typically, we take better care of the ball than we did today,” Owls coach Fran Dunphy said. “… But if you had said that to me, I would have thought that we would have been in much worse shape.”
Bench plays big
It was great to see Dom Uhl be more of a factor in Iowa’s game overall. The 6-9 sophomore reserve had scored only 24 points in Iowa’s previous nine games, but on Friday he was more aggressive and effective than he's been in a while.
And even though he was 3-for-9 from the floor, he was an eyelash away from 5-for-9 or 6-for-9. He wound up with seven points and four rebounds in 20 minutes, and his second-half 3-pointer was Iowa’s only make in its final 19 attempts from long range after a 6-for-9 start.
The last time Uhl attempted that many shots was Dec. 22 against Tennessee Tech.
“I always try to be aggressive,” Uhl said. “Today, I was scoring a little bit more. But I also missed a couple easy ones I should’ve finished.”
All four of Fran McCaffery’s bench players had points, including freshman Christian Williams on his only attempt in four minutes. With Iowa scuffling, Williams swished a pull-up jumper from 18 feet to put Iowa ahead 36-35 late in the first half, after the Hawkeyes had frittered a 32-20 lead.
“They set some double screens for me,” Williams said, “and I saw I was open off the double screens and took the shot.”
Some comfort in late woes
The narrative would be a lot different if Iowa had found a way to lose after leading 61-53 with 5:08 left in regulation. But even though the Hawkeyes went an astonishing 8:16 between baskets, they prevailed by leaning on their defense.
“We got shots today. We were running stuff — Jarrod was open, Pete was open, Mike was open,” McCaffery said. “Sappy (Clemmons) was driving the ball. That’s all you can do, put guys in a position. They were rising up and shooting with confidence. Couldn’t get anything to fall.
“There was a stretch there down the end in regulation where, if we get one to go in, we’ll be OK. … We couldn’t make it. OK, we’ve got to go get a stop then.”