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Basketball: Iowa downs Michigan, 82-71

This news story was published on January 17, 2016.
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logo_iowa_hawkeyesIOWA CITY – The 16th-ranked University of Iowa men’s basketball team improved to 14-3 overall and 5-0 in conference play after topping Michigan, 82-71, inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday afternoon.

Jarrod Uthoff led the Hawkeyes with 23 points, shooting 9-of-20 from the field. He has scored in double figures in every game this season.

The Hawkeyes also shot a season best 10-of-11 (.909) from the free throw line.

Today’s victory marks the first time Iowa has started off the Big Ten campaign with a 5-0 mark since the 1996-97 campaign (under Tom Davis).

Iowa’s current 14-3 record is the best start during Fran McCaffery’s six-year tenure at the school.

Iowa has now won 11 consecutive Big Ten regular season games dating back to last year, its longest such streak since the 1969-70 conference season (14-0).

This was Iowa’s 12th straight home win dating back to last year — the longest homecourt winning streak since the Hawkeyes won 20 straight home games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena from 2013-15.

Iowa committed four turnovers in today’s win, its second lowest total this season (3 vs. Drake, 12/19/15).

“It’s going to be a heck of a year for Iowa fans,” said Michigan head coach John Beilein.

Iowa returns to action Jan. 21 for a road contest at Rutgers (6-12, 0-5). Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. (CT). The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.

University of Iowa Basketball Media Conference

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Fran McCaffery

Men’s Basketball

Iowa – 82, Michigan 71

Q. Obviously a big day today out of the bench guys. What did you see out of the reserves?
COACH MCCAFFERY: Well, it’s interesting, when the game unfolds you never know what lineup’s going to be on the floor when you make your run. And we had a very unique lineup. I couldn’t be more proud of Ahmad Wagner right now, he played like a veteran. Defensively he was always over the place and when you’re in the five spot and in a zone you have to be the guy that’s communicating. And that’s what he did. But he also played with the necessary activity level that you need against a team that spreads you out and shoots threes the way they do. When you play Michigan, the way they execute their offense, the way they move the ball, and the multiple three-point shooters they have, they’re never out of the game. So you can’t ever let up defensively. I thought we softened a little bit right after the 11-0 start. Start of the second half they were on fire. We get out rebounded. But no turnovers in the second half. So you got a chance. And our guard play, Clemmons, after a subpar first half was spectacular in the second half.

Q. You went seven minutes without Uthoff.
COACH MCCAFFERY: What was interesting is we took him out, I think there was 12:46. Let’s get him out before the media and get him right back in. But when that team took off, I thought, you know what, it might not be bad because when I put him back in, he’ll be fresh all the way to the end of the game. We can go to him and we went to him, and he made a couple big buckets.

Q. Three-point shooters have been tremendous, especially in the second half, four possessions or something like that there was four guys who hit threes. Seems to be just a huge difference almost year over year that they’re making them now in games.
COACH MCCAFFERY: Well, we have good three-point shooters. We had more drivers before. The numbers sort of bear that out. We should be making more threes.

Q. That zone, it seemed to give you guys a spark. Talk about that decision.
COACH MCCAFFERY: Well what it enables you to do is kind of keep everything in front of you. So you can kind of look, okay, where’s Robinson? Where is Dawkins? Where is Abdur-Rahkman. Where’s Irvin? Now in the first half you remember against the zone they scored behind us. A good offensive team attacking zone will get behind you. And we did a very poor job of this when they were running cutters and running people along the baseline. Much better job in the second half. Again it goes back to Uhl, Baer, and Wagner’s activity level because they’re going to be four out. And so if the guards are matched and Robinson comes up, somebody’s got to go with him and they’re going to run somebody to the corner. They hit a ton of corner threes. So the zone was very effective. And then we were also able to run out of it.

Q. John was in here and said that your lineup is basketball the way it used to be, meaning seniors, four seniors and a junior. Do you look at it that way and what, can you quantify what it means to have that much experience?
COACH MCCAFFERY: Well, here’s the thing: Everybody keeps talking about the experience and obviously they’re our key guys. But we wouldn’t be sitting where we are if we weren’t getting unbelievable play from Uhl, Wagner, Ellingson, Nicholas Baer, and before that, Dale Jones. I still have confidence in Christian, I wanted to get him in today, I could still go to Andrew Fleming, but Christian was huge in the Michigan State game. So, yeah, I mean it’s great that we have four seniors, and a junior, but I said from the beginning, we would not have success this year unless those young guys came through for us. I don’t care what the seniors do.

Q. Tomorrow afternoon you could end up having the highest ranked team you’ve ever had here in your six years. Is this something, did you see this coming after Iowa State?
COACH MCCAFFERY: Well, I’ll give you the same answer I gave the other night, I didn’t not see it coming. I thought we had a really good team. I felt we had the potential. I think you can look at the Iowa State game two ways. Playing the second ranked team in the country on the road in a hostile environment, and we scored 82 and lost by one. Or you can say, okay, we had a lead and we couldn’t get the ball in bounds twice and we blew the game. I choose the former and I tend to look at the positive side of things and trust my guys.

Q. When did you see in the last two days? You come off a big high off that Thursday night win. You got a turnaround here. You seemed like they have had the professional approach throughout.
COACH MCCAFFERY: Yeah, they were professional, as you would have expected them to be. But how can you not get ready to play Michigan on television in front of a full house? I mean, that shouldn’t be hard.

Q. What did you think of your team’s response, Michigan kept coming at you through out the whole game?
COACH MCCAFFERY: We expected it. The key is to keep coming down and giving your team a chance. Like I said, no turnovers, so, yeah, we missed some, but we moved the ball. I thought our shot selection was really good. Then we hit some key shots. Clemmons hit a big three. Pete was on fire. Uthoff hit some big shots. Dom Uhl, certainly.

Q. How did you have that different, I forget how you put it, unique I think, lineup, for as long as you did in the second half?
COACH MCCAFFERY: Once they started really clicking the way they did, I just leave them in. If you follow how I coach, if that lineup’s cooking I’m going to leave them in there and let them play because they were playing together, they were playing comfortable, and they were aggressive. Their defensive activity was big time. Their understanding of how to move the ball and get good shot opportunities was everything that you want. And at the same time, we’re extending the lead and I’m resting people that I’m going to need for the stretch run.

Q. Pete’s defense has been really good.
COACH MCCAFFERY: It’s terrific. Until he gets a little bit tired and then he breaks down. But you’re right, his anticipation has been great, he’s been able to defend really good players in this league, he’s more physical than he’s ever been because he’s stronger, he’s older, and smarter.

Q. He seems to get some deflections, I know they won’t show up here?
COACH MCCAFFERY: Yeah, he’s like Aaron White in that way. He kind of lays back a little and he pokes it, he uses anticipation. He also really in-processes the scouting report, so he knows when the screens are coming and when to shoot the gap and when to top block a down screen.

Q. You got into him a couple months but he seems to respond?
COACH MCCAFFERY: Pete? Yeah, that was before. Today I thought he was fine. I got into the whole team at that one point. Yeah, he wasn’t really part of that.

Q. No, I just meant in the last month, but he seems to respond.
COACH MCCAFFERY: Yeah, he does. He does. It’s like anything else, if you’re going to get into somebody, it has to make sense to them. Okay. Why am I getting into him? He deserves it. I don’t pick on him, I’m not trying to build character and play mind games with him. If I’m in his face, it’s because he deserves to have me in his face and he needs to get corrected what we’re talking about getting corrected. He’s got character and he’s smart and every time I’ve challenged him he’s comeback and performed. That’s who he is.

Q. You got the kind of stuff on this team that won’t have dips like for instance, people will assume that you’ll win at Rutgers and I know you don’t look at it that way. But your guys —
COACH MCCAFFERY: I never look at it that way. I’ve coached in leagues before where you could bring less than your best and beat the bottom teams. Not this league. Anything less than your best, you are going to get beat every time. And that’s the thing that, I’m in my sixth year, so it’s obvious to me, but we have got, go back to the seniors that we’re talking about, they understand that, too. You cannot coast against anybody in this league.

Q. Mike Gesell only took four shots but he was just incredible at both ends today. Talk about him.
COACH MCCAFFERY: I thought his defense on really talented players was spectacular. His ability to move his feet, explosive slides. Keep the dribble in front of him. Because they’re going to get threes when the ball gets in the lane. We had a little problem start of the second half with ball screens middle ball screens, we weren’t getting through, we weren’t hard hedging high enough, which we were in the first half. But he was great.

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