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IOWA 87, NORTH DAKOTA STATE 56: THEY'RE READY

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The tune-ups are in the books, and Iowa looks as prepared as can be for Thursday's trip to New York.

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Iowa put in another no-doubter on Monday night, shooting 53% from the field and throttling North Dakota State, 87-56, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Monday night.

Iowa was doubling up its visitor as late as 70-35 with 9:16 left, and NDSU's only lead came at 2-0 in the opening seconds. Gabriel Olaseni led Iowa with 14 points, all of which came in the second half after fellow big Adam Woodbury controlled the first half with 10 points of his own. Both members of the Twin Towers registered 11 rebounds, which meant Woodbury picked up his first career double-double and Olaseni his fifth. Woodbury was lethal with his midrange jumper, which is nearly unblockable for even larger defenders; NDSU, who has nobody bigger on the roster than 6'8" Chris Kading, was helpless. Meanwhile, Olaseni is getting to be a major weapon slipping to the basket on pick-and-rolls; that's every bit as much about the guards feeding him the ball, but converting on the opportunities is no easy task and Olaseni is considerably improved in this regard.

Jarrod Uthoff was aggressive once again, this time leading the team in shots attempted and going 5-11 (2-5 from deep) for 12 points in 22 minutes of work. A shooting percentage of 45% and 40% from downtown feels more like what he'll accomplish for the season as a whole, especially when he's got the perma-green light, but hey—we'll take that without hesitation, right? And speaking of without hesitation, Uthoff's ability to get a clean shot up the moment he touches the ball is a thing of beauty. His jumpers don't rattle in, either; when he connects, it's so spot-on that it's easy to wonder just how the hell this guy ever misses a jumper. Frankly, it's so pure, it looks like when NBA players shoot. And if Uthoff can keep that up against real competition, well, what's to stop him from playing at the next level?

Aaron White continues to be the most complete player on the team, with 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists in 25 minutes of work. I don't see how you keep White off the floor except for breathers once the Big Ten season starts; he's got phenomenal ball skills for a 6'9" forward, he's wonderfully active on the glass and he's the Hawkeyes' biggest asset in transition—both offensively and defensively. Barring disaster, he'll likely be Fran McCaffery's second player drafted into the NBA, and that's pretty awesome.

Notre NORTH Dakota State, like Hampton, only managed 56 points on the game and much of that came in the closing minutes. This team is a far cry from the one that won the Summit League last year and upset Oklahoma as a 12-seed in the NCAA, with six seniors gone and not a whole lot of talent remaining. Ken Pomeroy projects them at 9-7 in a weak Summit this season, and even that might be generous.

All of which is not to diminish Iowa's performance on Monday but to state that it's time for real competition to begin, because Iowa doesn't need any more tuneups like this. Maybe Dominique Uhl does, I guess, but Iowa's major contributors are all ready to get rolling. And wouldn't you know it: Thursday night, Madison Square Garden, Iowa vs. #10 Texas.

Texas is big, strong, can shoot, and boasts one of the best freshmen in the game: 5-star, 6'11", matchup nightmare Myles Turner. Senior Jonathan Holmes is another wide body who, if healthy, should be another first-team All-Big 12 candidate. To round things out, sophomore guard Isaiah Taylor is rounding into form and if his surge as a shooter is legit (he was rough there as a freshman), he's going to be big trouble for Iowa's guards to handle.

But you know what? Let's go. Let's see where Iowa is against a strong team like this. Maybe Iowa loses. That's not ideal, but it'll at least be more instructive than seeing the Hawkeyes blow up another half-dozen rinky-dinkers like NDSU. Texas has its stars, Iowa has its own, now it's time to see them square off. Let's do this.