Hawkeyes ride their two Ohio natives to big win

Mark Emmert

IOWA CITY, Ia. — There was a distinctly Buckeye flavor to a Hawkeye victory Thursday.

The Iowa men’s basketball team dominated Delaware State 89-57 before an announced crowd 11,886 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in its final nonconference outing. It gave the Hawkeyes five consecutive wins.

It also marked the best games of the season for the two Ohio natives on Iowa’s roster. Sophomore forward Ahmad Wagner, a starter, made all five of his field goals to finish with 12 points. And his best shot, a monstrous putback dunk, was waved off when he was called for an offensive foul.

“It feels good. The team put me in position to score and I took advantage of it,” said Wagner, who has been known for defense and rebounding but not always finishing at the rim. “I just concentrated more.”

Freshman guard Maishe Dailey came off the bench to record career-highs of eight points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes. He only made 2-of-7 3-pointers, but the fact that he was aggressive was a welcome sight for a player who has seemed to be buried in a deep rotation at guard.

“He’s been shooting the crap out of the ball in practice. He loves that corner 3. I think we saw that a couple times tonight,” starting point guard Jordan Bohannon said of Dailey. “It’s nice to see him have this type of game finally.”

Dailey said Wagner is the veteran on the team that he’s grown closest to, a reflection of their shared background growing up in the Cleveland area. The duo is even atop Iowa’s numerical roster, Wagner wearing No. 0 while Dailey sports a "1."

“I’m super proud of him. He came in firing, too,” Wagner said of Dailey.

Dailey is hopeful that he gave coach Fran McCaffery something to think about when it comes to doling out minutes in Big Ten Conference play.

“Every time I go out on the court I try to make the most of it, just try to gain the trust of the coach,” said Dailey, who had a total of 13 points and 10 rebounds in Iowa’s first 12 games. “(I) just try to contribute, whether that be rebounds, taking care of the ball, scoring or defense, guarding the smallest guys, guarding the biggest guys, whatever the coach needs me to do.”

The coach took notice.

“He's got a versatility about him that's impressive, because he can laterally get his feet apart and move his feet and contain a really smaller, quicker guy,” McCaffery said. “But then he's (6-foot-6) and long and so he can stick his nose in there on the glass and get rebounds with bigger guys and he can make 3s. Eventually, as he gets stronger, he's going to be even more explosive. What I want to see him do now is just kind of just take it and go off the dribble, trust his ability to do that.”

McCaffery was able to get a long look at several reserves Thursday, thanks to an early 21-1 run that put away road-weary Delaware State (3-11).

Sophomore guard Christian Williams scored a career-high nine points and had three steals in 24 minutes. Freshman center Ryan Kriener contributed five points and six rebounds in 14 minutes.

“You put him in, he'll score, he'll rebound, he fights the post,” McCaffery said of Kriener. “The thing that he has to do is settle down, because he's just way too tough on himself. He just has to let it come to him. He's got a great pair of hands. So he gets his hands in traffic, he corrals the ball.”

Iowa (8-5) got 17 points from senior star Peter Jok in just 15 minutes of play. Jok suffered a hip injury in the first half and returned to log only 4 second-half minutes.

Not that he was needed.

Dailey filled in admirably, even making a point to protect the defensive glass as Jok does.

“Just trying to rebound for Pete since he’s not in the game. I might as well,” Dailey said with a smile. (It’s) just like an energy and effort thing. The more energy I have, the more my game starts to fall in place with steals and deflections and rebounds.”

That sounds like what Wagner typically provides.

“His athleticism, effort, energy,” Dailey said, ticking off a list of things he admires about his fellow Ohioan.” “That putback dunk he had, it set the place on fire.”

It did, briefly. Of course, it didn’t count. But Iowa didn’t need the points, just the reminder of the kind of soaring play Wagner is capable of.

Iowa next plays at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at No. 15 Purdue.