IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Last season, a rough start might have derailed Jarrod Uthoff’s entire night.
Now, as a senior, Iowa’s leading scorer barely flinched.
Uthoff was held scoreless for nearly 17 minutes to open the game, but finished with 24 points, 15 rebounds and six blocked shots to help the fourth-ranked Hawkeyes hold off skidding Minnesota 75-71 on Sunday.
“I thought he was great for this reason,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said, “he started slow and he continued to be aggressive. I think that’s been the evolution of him as a player. We needed him to do that today.”
Peter Jok scored 27 points to lead the Hawkeyes (20-5, 11-2), who rebounded from Thursday’s loss at Indiana to regain sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.
Nate Mason had 14 points for Minnesota, which has lost 14 straight games. The Gophers (6-19, 0-13) extended their worst start ever in conference play.
Uthoff became the third Big Ten player in the last 20 years to have 20 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots in a game, joining Minnesota’s Joel Pryzbilla (2000) and Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson (2011). He’s the first Iowa player with 20 points and 15 boards since 2003. The 15 rebounds were a career best.
Uthoff helped secure the victory for the Hawkeyes with a big dunk, three blocks and a pair of free throws in the final 1:17.
Iowa’s top scorer at 18.6 points per game, Uthoff missed his first seven shots. But he took over during a pivotal first-half stretch.
He scored nine straight points going into halftime, helping the Hawkeyes end the first half on a 12-2 run to regain the lead. The forward got on the board with a pair of drives, then connected on a 30-foot 3-pointer.
“It was a big momentum changer,” Uthoff said.
Minnesota cut Iowa’s lead to 66-64 on two free throws by Joey King with 2:58 remaining, but the Gophers went 2 for 8 from the field in the final 2 minutes.
Minnesota has lost seven of its last eight games by eight points or fewer.
“Now is not the time to crush them, but to be there for them,” coach Richard Pitino said. “I really can’t worry about yesterday. I can’t worry about the future. I just have to worry about here and now and just be there for my guys.”
Jok shot 8 of 14 and hit four 3-pointers to reach 20 points for the eighth time this season. The guard scored 11 of Iowa’s first 15 second-half points.
Anthony Clemmons added 12 points for the Hawkeyes.
Dupree McBrayer had 12 points for Minnesota. Jordan Murphy scored 11.
Minnesota: The Gophers were the last team to beat Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Minnesota’s 64-59 win came a year ago this week. … This was the only regular-season meeting between the border rivals.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes have won 20-plus games each of the last four seasons. … Mike Gesell was honored before the game for becoming the 45th player in program history to surpass 1,000 points. Gesell scored 17 at Indiana last Thursday to give him 1,015 in his career.
Gesell made up for a 1-for-8 shooting night with a beautiful floor game. He had 12 assists and no turnovers. … Iowa’s bench scored only six points after being shut out against Indiana last Thursday. … King had 10 points despite shooting 1 of 8 from 3-point range.
Minnesota hosts No. 2 Maryland on Thursday.
Iowa plays at Penn State on Wednesday.
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