Iowa's Peter Jok frustrated with Spartans' 'illegal' defense

Chad Leistikow

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Add another pack of ice to Peter Jok’s body ... and some additional frustration for the Big Ten Conference’s leading scorer.

Jok injured his left knee late in the second half of Saturday’s 77-66 loss at Michigan State — he thinks he’ll be fine — and struggled to find open space against what he thought were grabby defenders.

“I think they’re playing illegal defense on me, to be honest,” Jok said after being held to 13 points on 2-for-11 shooting. “They’re just grabbing me, doing whatever it takes, like a football game out there.”

Michigan State has a reputation of playing a physical style of basketball. Iowa fans will never forget the way the Spartans were allowed to rough up their guards in the 2013 Big Ten Tournament. (It was so egregious that referee Ted Valentine hasn't been allowed to work an Iowa conference game since.)

Jok just thought on Saturday they got away with too much.

Peter Jok drives to the basket. He hit just two of his 11 shot attempts and scored 13 points.

“I expect it by now. I feel like everybody is going to keep playing like that,” Jok said. “I just wish the referee would watch me the whole time. I think they’re playing illegal defense on me sometimes. Just grabbing me.”

Michigan State threw waves of defenders to limit Jok’s ability to find open space, as he is prone to do with nine games this season of 25-plus points.

Seniors Alvin Ellis III and Eron Harris were the predominant Jok defenders.

“Those seniors might have won us the game by the defense they played on Jok,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said, “because he was unbelievable (28 points) at Minnesota.”

Jok found other ways to contribute, dishing out a game-high eight assists and grabbing five rebounds. He also got to the free-throw line 11 times, making nine.

His miss in the second half ended a string of 28 straight made free throws, leaving the late Chris Street’s school-record 34 intact.

But late in the game, Jok tweaked his left knee and limped to the bench. He already has missed time this year with a back injury, and his right (shooting) shoulder has been an issue much of the season.

Fortunately, he was able to return.

“Nothing major. Just strained a little bit,” Jok said. “(Trainer Brad Floy) said it’ll be sore a couple days, but I’ll be good.”

Iowa forward Tyler Cook also got hurt Saturday in the first minute of the second half after taking an accidental elbow to his left eye from teammate Ahmad Wagner.

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said he was worried at first that Cook had suffered a concussion.

“He got poked in the eye and it really scared him," McCaffery said. "That’s why they kept him out for a while, just to make sure he was OK. He says it’s good.”