Another night, another guy comes out of the woodwork to key Iowa to a win. Melsahn Basabe, who was averaging just 6.5 points per game so far this season, put in a season-high 15 points on 7/10 shooting and pulled down eight rebounds as Iowa knocked off Drake 88-66 in the Big Four Classic Saturday night. Roy Devyn Marble scored 14 points and added six rebounds and three assists, while freshman Peter Jok came off the bench to add 14 points and seven rebounds. Jarrod Uthoff scored 13, blocked two shots, and led the team with nine rebounds.
As expected, Drake came out firing from the outside. The Bulldogs made seven of their first eleven three-point attempts, and led Iowa by five points at the 8:00 first half media timeout. For a brief moment, it really looked like this was going to be a close contest.
Drake's chariot turned back into a pumpkin in the last three minutes of the half, though. Iowa finished the half on a 10-0 run, went to the locker room up nine, and never looked back. Iowa's size advantage and ability to score inside meant that the Bulldogs had to keep up their ungodly shooting percentage just to keep up. When Drake's perimeter shooting tanked -- the Bulldogs made just 5/18 from behind the arc after their initial hot stretch -- the Hawkeyes put their height advantage to work on the boards. Iowa outrebounded Drake 47-28 and converted 17 offensive rebounds into 28 second-chance points. That was the ballgame.
Iowa's rebounding came in large part from the usual suspects: Woodbury, Uthoff, White, and Basabe were simply too much for Drake's collection of undersized wings to handle. The surprise of the evening was Jok, who used a game in his hometown to show that he's not just a three-point specialist. Jok was everywhere in the second half, crashing the boards, driving into the lane, patrolling passing lanes on the defensive side, and knocking down shots from all over the court (even though he was 1/5 from three). That is the Peter Jok we were hoping to get. That is a guy who can contribute in the Big Ten.
Iowa needed Jok, too, because Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons were nonexistent. Gesell picked up two early fouls, sat out much of the first half, and scored his only basket when the game was out of reach. Clemmons dished out a pair of assists and made two free throws, but did not play a significant role during his 14 minutes on the court. Iowa's backcourt versatility should allow McCaffery to play the hot hand next to Marble; if it's Jok, as it was tonight, Marble can move to the point and make room. It worked flawlessly here.
The win, coupled with Iowa State's overtime victory over Northern Iowa, sets up the biggest Cy-Hawk basketball game in a generation. Iowa-ISU has not featured two ranked teams since 1987; in fact, neither team has been ranked for this game since 2005. Throw in Iowa's complete lack of success in Hilton as of late -- the Hawks have not won in Ames since 2001 -- and the high-tempo style of both programs, and we have the makings of a classic.