Oglesby and Iowa ride the three

BY BEN ROSS | JANUARY 21, 2014 5:00 AM

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For the first time since 2002, the Iowa men’s basketball team is listed in the top 10 of the Associated Press basketball rankings, and after a convincing 94-73 win over Minnesota this past weekend, the Hawkeyes are poised to make a serious run in the Big Ten.

While you were home over break, Iowa went 4-1 in the Big Ten, with a signature win coming over then-No. 3 Ohio State in Columbus on Jan. 12. The Hawkeyes played perhaps their best basketball of the season against the Gophers on Sunday — they were down 2 points at the half, yet won by 20 — and there’s a lot to like about their play. Iowa had 27 points off turnovers, 43 points from the bench, and shot 45 percent from the 3-point line.

Josh Oglesby stole the show in front of an abysmal-student section but otherwise full Carver-Hawkeye Arena, making 5-of-7 shots from beyond the arc. The junior looked to be at his best in a 17-point performance, and he was a spark off the bench to send Iowa on a 38-19 run in the second half.

“I got into a rhythm, and my teammates found me; it felt good … this was one of our better games, to come out and beat by them 20 was really impressive,” Oglesby said.

The 3-point shot has been haunting Iowa for much of the season. In their three losses — Villanova, Iowa State, and Wisconsin — the Hawkeyes went 19-of-51 from long range. If Iowa continues to make 45 percent of its trey balls each game, it is hard to imagine the squad losing another contest.

“It depends on how many you give up,” Iowa guard Devyn Marble said after his 16-point performance over Minnesota. “Defensively is what I think is the key and not what we shoot from the 3 night in and night out. We could lose a game shooting 9-of-20  [from 3].”

Oglesby missed the first 12 games of the season with a broken foot, and talk about redshirting the junior on an already crowded court was a aflutter. But just one-year removed from a sophomore campaign in which the Cedar Rapids native shot an underwhelming 27 percent from long range, Oglesby is hitting 60 percent of his 3 balls and averaging 16 minutes a game, which is relatively solid playing time considering Iowa’s roster goes 11 deep.

Oglesby’s defense was the first thing Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery wanted to talk about after the win over Minnesota. That game was a coming-out party of sorts for Oglesby, and Iowa may have found a catalyst to help give it a good run in grueling Big Ten competition.

“He’s a talented player; I’ve been saying that over and over,” McCaffery said of Oglesby. “His defense today was nothing short of spectacular. It was the same thing against Ohio State … He has an incredible feel and sense of how to play. When he’s hitting — now he’s a superstar. But if he is not making shots, he is still an incredibly effective player. That’s why he was on the floor at the end of the game.”

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