Rob Dauster

Iowa forward Jarrod Uthoff (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Uthoff leads No. 5 Iowa over Penn State 73-49

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) Iowa’s scorers often get the attention, but it’s the fifth-ranked Hawkeyes’ aggressive and trapping defense that is making the difference this season.

And Iowa is converting turnovers and missed shots – and sometimes even made baskets – into quick and easy points on the other end.

Jarrod Uthoff scored 14 points and Adam Woodbury had a career-high 15 rebounds to help Iowa roll past Penn State 73-49 on Wednesday night.

The Hawkeyes forced only 10 turnovers, but held Penn State to 30 percent shooting. The 49 points are a season-low for an Iowa opponent this season.

“Right from the outset, our defense set the tone,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “We got stops, we got run-outs. . I thought we really were locked into throwing it ahead and attacking in transition.”

Peter Jok scored 12 points and Anthony Clemmons had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists for the Hawkeyes (18-4, 9-1 Big Ten), who won their 15th straight home game.

Brandon Taylor had 15 points and 11 rebounds for Penn State (11-12, 2-8). Taylor shot 6 of 18 from the field.

The Nittany Lions never settled down in their first visit to Iowa City in three years.

Penn State opened the game shooting 3 of 16 from the field. The Nittany Lions – one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the Big Ten – made only one 3 in 20 attempts.

“We got into their space and made everything difficult for them,” said Uthoff, who blocked four shots.

Iowa won to stay even with Indiana on top of the Big Ten standings. The Hawkeyes and Hoosiers will meet twice in the last four weeks of the season, starting Feb. 11 in Bloomington.

Iowa has won by double figures in eight of their nine conference wins.

The Hawkeyes opened the game on a 14-4 run. Later, Uthoff hit a 3-pointer with 5 1/2 minutes left in the first half to put Iowa up by 12 points. Penn State didn’t get any closer.

Dom Uhl finished the first half with a two-handed putback dunk off his own missed floater to give the Hawkeyes a 45-26 lead.

Iowa built a 20-point lead early in the second half and never gave it up.

The Hawkeyes had 13 fastbreak points and didn’t allow any. Iowa’s bench outscored Penn State’s 28-14.

Penn State has lost four straight and six of seven.

Shep Garner and Julian Moore scored eight points each for the Nittany Lions.

COURTSIDE

The Hawkeye football team was recognized at halftime to celebrate the program’s undefeated regular season and first Rose Bowl appearance in 25 years. They received a loud standing ovation.

About 40 members of the Big Ten West championship team – including quarterback C.J. Beathard and cornerback Desmond King – came out to midcourt with Iowa’s rivalry trophies. A dozen stayed after the presentation for a performance with the Iowa dance team.

King, the Jim Thorpe Award winner who announced last month he will return for his senior season, stood out from the group with white cowboy boots and a dark cowboy hat.

TIP-INS

Penn State: Two of the Nittany Lions’ next three games are against ranked opponents – including another game vs. Iowa in two weeks. … Penn State’s Payton Banks (plus-9.0) and Iowa’s Jok (plus-8.3) rank atop the Big Ten in points per game improvement from last season.

Iowa: Woodbury’s 13 defensive rebounds were the most by a Hawkeye since 2006. … McCaffery coached his 100th Big Ten regular season game Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Penn State hosts No. 22 Indiana on Saturday.

Iowa plays at Illinois on Sunday.

Coach K back at work one day after missing Duke-Ga. Tech game

FILE - In this Jan. 16, 2016, file photo, Duke head men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, second from right,  reacts to a play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Notre Dame at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils have lost three straight games entering Saturday’s game at North Carolina State followed by Monday’s game at No. 15 Miami. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown, File)
(AP Photo/Ben McKeown, File)
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DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was back at work one day after missing his first game in more than 20 years.

School spokesman Jon Jackson said Wednesday night that the Hall of Fame coach worked earlier that day, is feeling better and expects to resume his normal schedule Thursday.

Krzyzewski wasn’t with the Blue Devils for their 80-71 victory at Georgia Tech on Tuesday night, staying in Durham on the advice of Duke University Hospital doctors who checked him out after he felt ill following the team meal Monday night.

Krzyzewski – the winningest men’s coach in Division I history – turns 69 on Feb. 13. It marked the first Duke game he had missed since he was out for the final 19 games in 1994-95 due to back surgery and exhaustion.

BUBBLE BANTER: What should we make of the Atlantic 10’s bubble teams?

Saint Joseph's DeAndre' Bembry (43) reacts after being whistled for his fourth foul during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Richmond, Va., Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015. VCU won the game 89-74. (AP Photo/Skip Rowland)
(AP Photo/Skip Rowland)
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Saint Joseph’s (KenPom: 57, RPI: 30) is in a bit of a precarious position as we head into the second half of conference play. For a team with excellent computer numbers — particularly in the RPI — the Hawks have a total lack of quality wins.

Regardless of whether you use KenPom’s metrics or the RPI, as of this very moment, Phil Martelli’s club has a single win over a team ranked in the top 75. That would be Princeton, whose numbers are almost assured to go down as the Tigers work their way through the Ivy League schedule. And here’s the other problem: They only have one more chance to land a marquee win during regular season play. That would be a home date with Dayton on February 17th, and depending on how the rest of the season plays out, George Washington, St. Bonaventure and Davidson could all end up being RPI top 50 opponents.

But the bottom-line is that Saint Joseph’s is in the conversation as a bubble team simply because their profile is devoid of bad losses. That’s what tends to happen when you have just three top 100 wins, and that’s what makes Wednesday night’s loss to St. Bonaventure concerning. The Hawks can only survive so many league losses, and dropping a home game against a top 100 opponent makes their margin for error just that much more thin.

And it also brings up an interesting debate: The Hawks don’t have the profile of a surefire NCAA tournament team, but according to the RPI, they’re the best win that both VCU (KenPom: 27, RPI: 31) and St. Bonaventure (KenPom: 61, RPI 60) have landed this season. In fact, the only top 50 wins that any of those three teams have this season are when the Rams and the Bonnies won at St. Joe’s.

What do you make of a team whose profile is built around beating a team that figured out a way to game the RPI?

It’s worth noting that none of those three teams have lost to an opponent ranked outside the top 100 — and there’s something to be said for avoiding ugly losses — and VCU has managed to cobble together six top 100 wins in total and currently sit all alone at 9-0 atop the Atlantic 10 standings. But at the end of the day, it’s not difficult to envision a situation where all three of these teams end up sweating out Selection Sunday if they can’t land that marquee win against Dayton.

WINNERS

  • Florida (KenPom: 21, RPI: 20): The Gators followed up their blowout win against West Virginia by adding another top 100 win over Arkansas at home. The Gators have terrific computer numbers — bolstered by a non-conference schedule that ranked second nationally — but they’re just 6-7 against the top 100 with a single top 50 win against teams not named Saint Joseph’s. The Gators are in a great spot, but their work isn’t done yet.
  • George Washington (KenPom: 81, RPI: 52): The Colonials added a nice home win over Davidson on Wednesday night, upping their record against the top 100 to 5-2. The problem? They have three sub-100 losses, including DePaul and Saint Louis. That win over Virginia keeps GW right there on the cutline, but they need to add a couple more quality wins. Saturday’s trip to Richmond to take on league leader VCU is enormous.
  • Seton Hall (KenPom: 32, RPI: 45): The Pirates picked up a win over Marquette on Wednesday, which helps them in the sense that a loss would have really hurt them. The Pirates have a win at Providence and are the last team to beat (a then-healthy) Wichita State. A non-conference strength of schedule and just four total top 100 wins means that Kevin Willard still has some work left to do to ensure his first trip to the NCAA tournament.
  • No. 23 Arizona (KenPom: 19, RPI: 35): By beating Washington State on Wednesday, the Wildcats avoided a loss in the only game they have left on their schedule that could be considered a “bad loss”. But, as I wrote earlier today, the Wildcats’ only two top 50 wins came against the teams ranked No. 49 and No. 50 in the RPI and their marquee wins from the non-conference — at Gonzaga, UNLV, Boise State twice — all look far more mediocre than they did win those wins occurred. This win means Arizona should be OK. But their margin for error is smaller than you may realize.
  • Washington (KenPom: 75, RPI: 50): The Huskies picked up a nice home win over Arizona State in overtime, overcoming a double-digit deficit in the first half for the win. Washington’s profile is very much strengthened by Texas and USC continuing to get better, but with losses to Oakland and UC Santa Barbara, the Huskies have some work left to do. They’ll have the chance — six of their next seven games are against RPI top 50 teams, with the seventh coming against RPI
    No. 55 Stanford.

LOSERS

  • Notre Dame (KenPom: 31, RPI: 33): The Irish fell on the road against Miami on Wednesday, which is anything-but a bad loss. In fact, Notre Dame doesn’t have one of those on its résumé as of today, as all seven of their losses have come to teams ranked in the RPI top 50. (That will likely change unless Alabama makes a crazy turnaround.) They also have a win over Iowa, that keeps looking better and better, and a win at Duke. They do need to add to their collection of top 100 wins to fill out their profile, but with all eight of their remaining games coming against top 100 teams, they’ll have chances to do just that.
  • Creighton (KenPom: 45, RPI: 103): The Bluejays were blown out by Villanova in Philly on Wednesday night. Between their current RPI, the loss to Loyola (IL) and their non-conference strength of schedule (284th), it may be time to remove Creighton from the conversation.
  • Kansas State (KenPom: 41, RPI: 47): I still think Kansas State has a chance to dance. Between their solid computer numbers and the myriad of good wins left on their schedule, they’re not out of it by any means. Losing at Kansas on Wednesday didn’t help their cause.

 

BUBBLE BANTER: Is Arizona in danger of ending up on the bubble?

Gabe York
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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I’m not sure anyone in college basketball is more upset about timing these days than Sean Miller.

If he had his 2014 team or his 2015 team this season, he would sitting pretty, listening to pundits fawn over just how good his team is compared to the rest of the country and how he would be staring at a cakewalk to the first Final Four of his career.

But that’s not the case.

Instead, Miller is in the process of trying to coach up a team that doesn’t play typical Sean Miller defense, that has some real flaws on the offensive end of the floor and that can’t seem to manage to stay healthy. The result is a team that is currently sitting at 17-5 overall with a 5-4 record in Pac-12 play.

And at this point, it’s fair to point this out: Arizona isn’t a lock to reach the NCAA tournament by any stretch of the imagination. They’re one sloppy performance against, say, Washington State on the road away from fans having a real reason to worry, and the biggest issue is the lack of quality wins.

We all hate the RPI, but the RPI still matters in the room where the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee puts together the bracket. And as of today, the best win that Arizona has on their résumé is either Oregon State at home or, more likely, Stanford on the road. They’re 8-5 against the RPI top 100, but only two of those wins came against RPI top 50 teams: No. 49 Oregon State and No. 50 Washington.

The killer here is that the conferences out west, where Arizona loaded up their non-conference schedule, has fallen flat on their face. That win at Gonzaga back in December currently looks less impressive than when Arizona won at Arizona State. The two wins over Boise State don’t hold much weight, and UNLV’s fallen far enough that they are roughly equivalent to a decent mid-major team that could finish in the top half of their league.

Compare that to a team like Michigan or Notre Dame, who are currently sitting in similar bubble position because some of their early season wins — Michigan over Texas and Notre Dame over Iowa — suddenly look like marquee, profile-saving victories.

This is a long-winded way of saying that, while Arizona is safe as of today, their margin of error is far slimmer than many in Tucson may realize.

Anyway, here are tonight’s bubble games:

Arkansas at Florida (KenPom: 21, RPI: 20), 7:00 p.m.
Notre Dame (KenPom: 31, RPI: 33) at No. 17 Miami, 7:00 p.m.
Davidson at George Washington (KenPom: 81, RPI: 52), 7:00 p.m.
VCU (KenPom: 27, RPI: 31)) at La Salle, 7:00 p.m.
St. Bonaventure at Saint Joseph’s (KenPom: 42, RPI: 30). 7:00 p.m.
Creighton (KenPom: 45, RPI: 103) at No. 3 Villanova, 8:00 p.m.
Marquette at Seton Hall (KenPom: 32, RPI: 45), 8:30 p.m.
Kansas State (KenPom: 41, RPI: 47) at No. 7 Kansas, 9:00 p.m.
No. 23 Arizona (KenPom: 19, RPI: 35) at Washington State, 10:00 p.m.
Arizona State at Washington (KenPom: 75, RPI: 50), 11:00 p.m.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Six top ten teams are in action

Associated Press
AP
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Southern Illinois at No. 21 Wichita State, 9:00 p.m.

There are six top ten teams in action tonight, but five of them are at home and none of them will be squaring off against a team that could currently be considered likely to get an at-large bid. What’s that mean? Well, simply put, that SIU’s visit to Wichita State is the most intriguing game of the night. The Salukis have been one of the sneaky-good teams in the MVC this season, but I’m not sure anyone is going to be able to give the Shockers any kind of a fight in Wichita these days.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  1. Notre Dame will be paying a visit to Coral Gables tonight to take on No. 17 Miami at 7:00 p.m., which will feature a fun matchup between Angel Rodriguez and Demetrius Jackson.
  2. Creighton is probably good enough to be an NCAA tournament team this season, but thanks to a series of crippling close losses, they’re on the outside looking in. That’s what makes tonight’s game at No. 3 Villanova so important.
  3. No. 4 Maryland looks to make it three straight wins as they pay a visit to Nebraska.
  4. No. 23 Arizona will be looking to bounce back from a tough weekend in which they lost at home to Oregon. It will start will a visit to Washington State tonight.
  5. The Atlantic 10 bubble picture is fascinating, and three of the teams with tournament aspirations from the conference will be in action tonight: Saint Joseph’s hosts. St. Bonaventure, George Washington hosts Davidson and VCU visits La Salle.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • Penn State at No. 5 Iowa, 7:00 p.m.
  • St. John’s at No. 6 Xavier, 6:30 p.m.
  • Kansas State at No. 7 Kansas, 9:00 p.m.
  • Boston College at No. 9 Virginia, 7:00 p.m.

NEW PODCAST: Bleacher Report’s C.J. Moore joins to talk Kansas, Kentucky and more

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C.J. Moore, who covers college basketball for Bleacher Report, joined me on the podcast today.

C.J. lives out in Kansas and probably knows the Jayhawk program better than anyone in college basketball media, so we definitely spent quite a bit of time talking about Kansas, Wayne Selden and just how good this team can be.

We also dove into a discussion about Kentucky, Providence and whether or not we can actually get back to trusting Duke or Indiana this season. It’s good stuff.

As always, you can listen to the podcast by clicking “play” on the Soundcloud player embedded below. Or you can do so through either iTunes or Stitcher if you so choose. Thanks for listening!