DES MOINES — The crowd was sparse, their uniforms were black and the atmosphere was more fizzle than sizzle. Still, the Iowa men’s basketball team made the state’s capital city their home away from home last night.
The Hawkeyes (9-1) roasted Drake (6-2) and coasted to a 83-66 win at Des Moines’ Wells Fargo Arena in the second game of the Big 4 Classic. There were stars a plenty for the Hawkeyes, and they all came to play.
Senior Melsahn Basabe was active and physical at both ends of the court for Iowa. He scored a team-high 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Freshman Peter Jok, a West Des Moines Valley graduate, scored seven consecutive points and then delivered a perfect alley oop pass to Aaron White on an 11-o second half stretch.
The most important juncture for Iowa came early in the second half. Armed with a 51-44 lead, Iowa’s Devyn Marble drilled a jumper to boost the lead to nine. Basabe then followed with a traditional three-point play and scored inside two possessions later to increase Iowa’s lead to 16.
The Bulldogs trimmed Iowa at midway through the second half and cut their deficit to 11 with an Aaron Hawley 3-pointer with 9:23 left in the game. But that’s when Jok took over and the Hawkeyes rolled.
Jok and Marble also scored 14 points and Jarrod Uthoff put up 13 for the Hawkeyes. Uthoff added nine rebounds.
“We have about 10 guys capable of having 20 on any given night,” Marble said. “(Saturday), Mel and Pete played really well and I think getting out in transition me helped a lot.”
Iowa’s transition game was what hurt the Bulldogs, Coach Ray Giacoletti said.
“We played Derek Rose when he was at Memphis. That transition was staggering to watch in person,” Giacoletti said. “But Iowa does it a little bit different because Iowa has four different guys that push. Memphis in those years, Rose pushed it every time. One through four for Iowa can push it. It makes it really tough.”
Iowa outscored Drake 42-12 in the paint, 29-5 in second-chance opportunities and 39-7 in bench points.
Drake’s Chris Caird led all scorers with 21 points. He drilled five 3-pointers, including four in the first half.
Drake more than held its own for most of the first half. The game featured 11 ties and seven lead changes. Drake nailed seven of its first 11 3-pointers and led by five points with 7:55 left in the half.
The Bulldogs took their final lead, 40-39, on its eighth 3-pointer of the half. Then Iowa started running in transition, and the Bulldogs couldn’t keep up.
White rebounded a Marble miss and put Iowa back ahead 41-10. Then after Richard Carter missed the front end of a one-and-one, Basabe put back a Uthoff miss for a score to push it to 43-40. The Hawkeyes scored on their next three possessions — Marble layup, Uthoff score inside, Basabe basket — to finish the half on a 10-0 run and lead 49-40.
In the first half Iowa hit 50 percent from the field but just 1 of 8 from 3-point range. Drake knocked down 8 of 16 3-pointers and made 48.3 percent. Drake hit 12 3-pointers overall.
Iowa now has won four straight in the series. The teams won’t play against until 2015 in the Big 4 Classic.