This isn't the first time Iowa has run an opponent off the floor this year. It is, however, the first time Iowa's done it to a legit team.
Iowa dominated the game from start to finish, running up leads like 35-15, 54-22 and 77-39 en route to an easy 89-53 win. Aaron White led the way for the Hawkeyes, scoring 17 points on 5-6 shooting and 7-7 from the free throw line. Peter Jok and Zach McCabe each contributed 14 points from the bench, bombing UTEP's defense with long-range shooting time and time again (Iowa finished a ludicrous 9-16 from downtown, including 5-9 from those two).
As mentioned before, Iowa's massive leads looked familiar, since the Hawkeyes had done it to cupcake after cupcake to open up the season. But UTEP just beat Tennessee handily yesterday, and the Miners were ranked No. 78 in the Ken Pomeroy ratings. Not special, probably not a tourney team, but projected to finish third in a pretty big C-USA. Iowa was projected to win the game by 8. And just so we're clear, 36 is a lot more than 8.
The formula for the win was simple: wear UTEP out. Iowa ran, ran, and ran some more, frequently beating the Miners down the court even after UTEP's made baskets. If Todd Lickliter was watching he probably threw something at his TV. It opened up numerous layups, dunks and transition jumpers, and you best believe Fran loves all of those. Iowa's up-tempo offense and full-court press wore out the Miners, and for that you can thank the Hawkeyes' deep rotation, which was crucial in the hot, humid ballroom.
Mike Gesell deserves credit for running the show, leading the Hawkeyes with seven assists, many of which came on masterful long passes on the break. He and Clemmons have both improved substantially over last year, and even if neither carries a big part of the scoring load, that's okay; their ability to manage the frenetic pace helps Iowa immensely.
And man oh man, the role players today. Jarrod Uthoff threw in eight points (including two threes that'll keep opposing coaches up at night) and added 10 rebounds. Zach McCabe continues to shine in his spot role. Melsahn Basabe was a firecracker with 10 points and seven boards, making life hell on the taller but less energetic Miner front court.
All told, Iowa got more than 50% of its minutes from the bench once again, a hallmark of this year's team and a welcome relief after yesterday's overtime battle. Whomever Iowa faces tomorrow is going to challenge the Hawkeyes athletically as much as anyone on the entire non-conference schedule, so having as fresh of legs as possible will be crucial, and that's exactly what Iowa accomplished by thrashing UTEP.
This is a fun, fun team. It's not perfect and it may catch an L tomorrow. But it's so much fun.