Hawks look convincing in win over Indiana

BY DANNY PAYNE | MARCH 04, 2015 5:00 AM

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If there was any doubt in the mind of those observing Iowa, it should be gone.

Now winners of five-straight Big Ten games for the first time since 1996-1997, the Hawkeyes (20-10, 11-6 Big Ten) went into Indiana Tuesday night and came out with a 77-63 win. And it was a damn convincing one, offensively and defensively.

“We’ve played with great composure all year, I think, especially on the road,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “We do a great job of sharing the basketball and understanding how to break a defense down and share the ball.”

To be fair, the Hoosiers (19-11, 9-8) weren’t on top of their game on either end of the ball. The Hoosiers shot 38.3 percent overall, 40 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Those marks were below Indiana’s 47.5 field goal and 41.1 3-point percentages coming into the game.

But when opponents have slow nights shooting, good teams take advantage. And Iowa is a good team.

The Hawkeyes shot an efficient 46.3 percent Tuesday night, and they were led by double-digit point contributions from four players. Aaron White scored 21 points on 6-of-13 shooting and 9-of-10 from the free-throw line; Jarrod Uthoff, Gabe Olaseni, and Anthony Clemmons combined for 37 points.

In Iowa’s five-game win streak, White has averaged 20.4 points per contest and has shot 37-of-42 from the charity stripe.

As a whole, Iowa looked solid in the first half, leading 32-28 going into the locker room. But they did get a large amount of help from the Hoosiers.

Indiana turned the ball over 9 times, and the Hawkeyes put in 12 points on those turnovers. James Blackmon Jr. led head coach Tom Crean’s squad with 3 in the first half. Robert Johnson was one behind with 2.

Iowa ended the game with a 14-10 advantage in points on turnovers.

“We made a concerted effort to sprint back, get the ball under control, locate shooters,” McCaffery said.

The story of the second half wasn’t turnovers but Iowa scoring second-chance points. The Hawks managed only 5 points in the opening frame but finished the game with 17 to Indiana’s 8.

And the dagger of sorts came in that variety.

Despite the Hoosiers’ stringing together a few strong offensive and defensive possessions and bringing the lead back within 10 with roughly 3:40 remaining, Hawkeye forward Jarrod Uthoff put a dagger back in their plans, cleaned up an offensive rebound and put it back while getting fouled. Uthoff made the freebee to extend the lead to 13, and the Hawkeyes kept the lead in double-digits for the remainder of the night.

With the win, Iowa effectively locked up an NCAA Tournament berth. The Hawkeyes can present a résumé to the selection committee with no more than 12 losses and quality road wins over North Carolina, Minnesota, Ohio State, Michigan, and now Indiana.

Even more, if things shake out in their favor in the remaining five days of the Big Ten regular season, the Hawkeyes could finish in the top four of the conference and receive a double-bye in the conference tournament, meaning they would begin play on March 13, coming off nearly a week of rest.

But as McCaffery always says, his team still has work to do, which will is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday against Northwestern.

“[One game at a time] is the only way to do it,” McCaffery said. “I’ve never done it any other way. You hope you always have a team that understands that. Now, you just get ready

Follow @dannyapayne on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa men’s basketball team.

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