No. 3 Iowa rebounds to beat Northwestern

By Brendan Stiles, The Sports Xchange  |  Feb. 1, 2016 at 1:02 AM
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IOWA CITY -- Behind a pair of dominant performances from their top two scorers, the third-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes rebounded from their first Big Ten loss of the season by whipping Northwestern 85-71 on Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The victory puts the Hawkeyes (17-4) back into a first-place tie with No. 19 Indiana with an 8-1 mark in league play, while Northwestern (15-8) dropped to 3-7 in the conference.

Guard Peter Jok led Iowa with 26 points, while Northwestern guard Tre Demps had a game-high 30 points.

"I think it's confidence," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said about his team's ability to bounce back from its first defeat in nearly two months. "You have to have confidence in yourself and confidence in the guy that lines up next to you and confidence to overcome mistakes."

The first eight minutes of this contest was basically a one-on-one contest between Iowa senior forward Jarrod Uthoff and Demps. Uthoff scored 12 of the Hawkeyes' first 16 points, but Northwestern held an 18-14 lead thanks to Demps providing the Wildcats with 10 points out of the gate.

But then came the stretch that changed this game's complexion. Shortly after Uthoff came out of the game for a breather, Iowa found itself in the midst of a 14-0 run that gave the Hawkeyes a 28-18 lead at the under-eight-minute timeout of the first half.

"There was a certain point in time where we just locked up defensively," Uthoff said. "We had several stops in a row and that really fueled our offense and got us going."

Meanwhile, Northwestern could get nothing going. The Wildcats had a 6:30 stretch without scoring a single point and went the final 11:58 of the half scoring just eight points as the Hawkeyes took a 42-26 lead into the locker room. Northwestern finished just 9-of-31 shooting in the first half.

"Everybody on our team at some point, including myself, was a little hesitant," Demps said. "Once the other team smells blood, they can keep attacking you."

The second half began with the Wildcats scoring nine of the first 11 points and getting within single digits. But then Jok started heating up.

After scoring just four points in the first half, Jok went on a tear, shooting 5-of-7 from the floor in the second half. He scored 16 of Iowa's first 18 second-half points and when he exited the game with 10:38 remaining, the Hawkeyes held a commanding 67-42 lead. That lead expanded to 76-47 after Uthoff sank a pair of free throws and exited the game with 6:56 left after scoring 23 points.

"When I made that first 3 (in the second half), I just knew I was going to make a lot of shots," Jok said. "They kept finding me and I was more aggressive trying to get to the free-throw line, too."

Besides Demps, who was 11-of-22 from the field, the Wildcats received a 15-point performance from sophomore guard Scottie Lindsey.

The Hawkeyes play at home again on Wednesday against Penn State while Northwestern plays host to Minnesota on Thursday. The Wildcats will look to snap a five-game losing streak, with the last four defeats now coming against ranked opponents.

"These last three, we've been manhandled a little bit by better, more experienced teams," Northwestern head coach Chris Collins said. "I can't allow this to beat us down to where it seeps into the rest of our schedule.

"We've still got eight games left to play. It's not like there's two games left or three games left and I still think we've got a lot of good basketball left in us. Hopefully we can learn from these games."

NOTES: Iowa F Jarrod Uthoff's 23-point performance comes three days after he was held to single-digit scoring for the first time all season, scoring only nine points in the Hawkeyes' 74-68 loss to No. 8 Maryland on Jan. 28. Prior to that contest, Uthoff had scored in double figures in all of Iowa's games this season. ... With six assists Sunday, Northwestern sophomore G Bryant McIntosh now has 156 assists on the season, leading all Big Ten players. With two more assists, McIntosh will break the single-season school mark of 157 assists held by former Wildcat player Tim Doyle. ... As part of Coaches vs. Cancer's Suits and Sneakers Awareness Weekend, both the Iowa and Northwestern coaching staffs wore basketball sneakers with their suits during Sunday's game. In addition, the officials used pink whistles during Sunday's contest.

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