Uthoff and Clemmons survive Mike Gesell comeback

BY MATT CABEL | JUNE 24, 2013 5:00 AM

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It was just one of those nights for Mike Gesell and his summer-league team.

Open looks weren’t falling. The players tallied 33 rebounds compared with their opponents’ 50. A furious second-half rally, in which they turned a 22-point deficit into as few as 8, fell short, and the team fell to Anthony Clemmons and Jarrod Uthoff’s team, 115-100.

“We’re very athletic; we’re an up and down team,” Hawkeye sophomore guard Clemmons said. “We have some good players. Our thing right now is: Once we get the lead, don’t give it back.”

Uthoff had big numbers for his squad — the redshirt sophomore tallied 29 points and snagged 9 rebounds. He also provided a crowd-pleasing slam-dunk early in the second half that gave his team a 22-point lead. He showed his versatile skill set, displaying an innate ability to get to the paint and finish at the rim as well as from beyond the arc, where he flushed two 3-pointers.

“[Jarrod Uthoff is] a matchup nightmare with his length and his shooting ability,” said Gesell, who tallied 21 points, 15 assists, and 3 rebounds.

Uthoff wasn’t the only Hawkeye on his team to have a strong performance. Clemmons, matched up against Gesell for most of the game, tallied 25 points — including a 5-of-9 showing from deep — 7 rebounds, and 7 assists.

“You have to come in confident,” Clemmons said. “Every shot you take, you want to make, and you have to tell yourself that you’re going to make them. I had a few shots in the beginning that didn’t fall; I was just telling myself to keep shooting.”

After a back-and-forth first 10 minutes of play, in which both squads went on small runs, Uthoff’s team took the lead and never looked back. It ended the first half on a 21-5 run to enter halftime with a 52-39 lead.

But after Uthoff’s dunk, things began to change. Three-point shots began to fall, and soon, a 22-point lead had shrunk to 12. But every time Gesell’s team made a run, a member of Clemmons’ team sank a 3-pointer and extended the lead.

“I was trying to be leader out there, running the point guard,” Gesell said. “I didn’t shoot very well the first half, so I was looking to stay aggressive and keep finding the open guys.”

Uthoff’s and Clemmons’ coach, Randy Larson, subbed in his entire four-person bench numerous times during the course of the second half. Former Iowa City West standout Dondre Alexander was the other biggest contributor, scoring 27 points, grabbing 12 rebounds, and dishing out 6 assists.

Kirkwood player JC Fuller also tallied 18 points, including the finish on an alley-oop lob that drew oohs and ahs from the crowd.

Larson said he takes the first few games of the league to make sure the players know what he wants from his team. 

“We’re going to guard; we’re going to run and pass the ball and be unselfish on offense,” he said. “I try to be really active about making sure [the players] understand my expectations.”

The league commissioner believes that style of play begins with Clemmons and Uthoff.

“Clemmons and Uthoff are two guys that set the tone for us,” Larson said. “When your two best players are playing the right way, that’s great to see.”

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