Shooters shoot, stars shine and Iowa wins basketball games. It's simple, but it's effective, and it's how Iowa moved to 5-0 in the Big Ten for the first time since 1996-97 with an 82-71 victory over visiting Michigan. Jarrod Uthoff led the way with 23 points, and Peter Jok added 16—14 of which came in the second half—as Iowa outpaced the Wolverines.
Iowa's a near-mortal lock to enter the AP Top 10 come Monday, and the team looked the part on Sunday. Michigan's a quality foe, but Iowa showed plenty of versatility. Dom Uhl, Nicholas Baer and Ahmad Wagner all played quality minutes and showed the offense can still function at a high level with them playing significant roles—a far cry from the bench units that typically struggled to put points on the board. Those three guys contributed 51 minutes of court time and 22 points on 13 shots. and Iowa's game-sealing run came with Uthoff on the bench.
To the Wolverines' credit, they kept it close; Michigan hit 8 of 17 threes in the second half after an uncharacteristically slow start. But Iowa weathered that storm by bombing away in the second half, as Jok rained in four of Iowa's seven threes after the break.
Adam Woodbury continues to excel; he threw in 12 points and six rebounds, and he's rounding into the form Iowa fans have been dreaming of ever since he committed. He's finishing at the rim, playing clean and confident defense and taking care of the ball.
He also did this.
You'll recall that the last time Iowa played Michigan, Woodbury made highlights with a dunk, so let's give the young man credit for knowing how to show up against the Wolverines.
But really, as always, this game was about Uthoff. He poured in 23 points, even as he missed multiple point-blank shots, and Michigan simply didn't have anyone who could guard him or keep him from doing what he wanted to do on offense. There's a reason why Uthoff took 20 shots today—it's because he's the best offensive player Iowa's got, and Fran McCaffery isn't about to outcoach himself on that one.
There were things for the Iowa coaches to be concerned about, of course. Michigan was able to manufacture easy looks at the rim against Iowa's man defense, and going zone against Beilein's jump shooters eventually burned Iowa when they got hot in the second half. Michigan had a 13-0 run in the first half to erase what looked like a commanding lead, and then briefly retook the lead in the second half with a 16-6 spree in the early going—a pattern Iowa fans were hoping was a thing of the past.
But that's the thing about having a great team like this: you can withstand those runs and shortcomings and still pick up a relatively stress-free victory, even against a quality opponent, which Michigan is. As of right now, the Wolverines look like a fairly safe entrant to the NCAA Tournament. And they played a solid game, all told. It's just that Iowa's really, really good. And now Iowa's 5-0 and knocking on the door of the Top 10.
This is fun.
(That's Anthony Clemmons' mom, from the new episode of The Journey on BTN, which we'll probably write about this week. It was outstanding.)