IOWA CITY — Now we know why Bo Ryan restricted Jarrod Uthoff from contacting 26 schools 18 months ago.
Uthoff, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, scored a game-high 19 points on 6-of-7 shooting to pace Iowa (5-0) to its fifth straight win, 86-55, against Pennsylvania (1-3) on Friday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Uthoff, a 6-foot-9 forward, transferred from Wisconsin and Ryan in 2012 and ultimately landed at Iowa. After sitting out for a season, Uthoff has worked off the rust and has become an offensive threat. He scored nine points in the first half and added 10 after halftime. He also provided the game’s signature play with a dunk that sent his teammates into a frenzy.
With 8:15 left in the first half, Uthoff drove the baseline just right of the basket. He elevated and vaulted over Penn’s Cameron Gunter, who tried to stop Uthoff’s momentum. Instead Uthoff threw it down, and Gunter was hit with a foul.
“That was nasty,” Iowa guard Devyn Marble said. “That was definitely up there with my top three or five that I’ve seen in person. That was definitely impressive.
“He’s just so long. You really don’t realize it until he’s up there how long he really is.”
Uthoff, a Cedar Rapids Jefferson graduate, smiled but was at a loss for words when asked to describe the dunk.
“I just drove baseline and Gabe (Olaseni) set a screen for me,” Uthoff said. “I don’t know what happened.
“I saw it go in.”
The dunk was an exclamation point to Uthoff’s overall performance, but he did way more than drop a hammer on one possession. He finished with four rebounds, two assists, two turnovers, a steal, a block and no fouls in 21 minutes. He tossed inside to an open Aaron White that led to a three-point play early in the second half. He followed later with a jumper and a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions to give Iowa a 20-point lead.
“He’s got a really unique game, and he has strengths in every area,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “So the key for him and what I try to tell him is just go do all the things that you do. So sometimes it’s 3‑point shooting, sometimes it’s driving, sometimes it’s rebounding in traffic, pushing the ball on the break, making a play for somebody else. Sometimes it’s blocking a shot.
“His length helps him in so many ways. I mean, to block obviously, but typically defensively even more so. But the most important thing about him is he has no panic in his game. He just plays. If they’re in zone, I’ll do this. If they’re in man, I’ll do that. If it’s a running game, I’ll react accordingly. But I think that’s the beauty of who he is.”
Uthoff even brought the ball up the court and broke down a defender in front of the 3-point line. It’s that versatility and poise that amplifies his skill set.
“Nothing rattles him,” McCaffery said. “He reacts to quickness. If you put a small guy on him, he reacts to size. If they put a bigger, stronger guy on him, he’s just going to move around and figure it out.”
Uthoff stepped up offensively when his teammates were struggling. The Hawkeyes shot just 35.7 percent from the floor in the second half and missed their first six shots from the field.
“He did a really good job,” said Iowa guard Devyn Marble, who grabbed a career-high six steals. “He got us going offensively. We needed that spark (Friday).
“A lot of us were struggling to even get layups to go in. That was uncharacteristic across the board. When it does happen, guys like Jarrod stepped up.”
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