IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa junior guard Peter Jok didn’t play against Coppin State on Sunday because of an ankle injury.
To say that he wasn’t needed would be putting it mildly.
The Hawkeyes overcame not having one of their starters to crush Coppin State 103-68 in a game that was a mismatch from start to finish. Iowa bolted to a 22-2 lead and led by as many as 30 points in the first half.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery went to his bench early and often in the first half, using 11 players before halftime. Iowa had four players who scored in double figures, led by reserve guard Brady Ellingson with a career-high 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field.
“I thought I had a lot of easy looks thanks to my teammates,” said Ellingson, who is a redshirt freshman from Sussex, Wis. “We were moving the ball well and my shot felt good.”
Senior point guard Mike Gesell dished out 12 assists, including 10 in the first half, which ended with Iowa leading 52-22. Gesell has combined for 21 assists in the first two games.
“We’ve got so many shooters it’s easy to get assists,” Gesell said.
Jok was withheld from Sunday’s game mostly as a precautionary measure. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard from West Des Moines injured his ankle in Friday’s 76-59 victory over Gardner-Webb.
McCaffery said after Sunday’s game that Jok was fine.
“He’s be okay,” McCaffery said.
The competition will improve significantly when Iowa plays its next game at Marquette on Thursday.
McCaffery is trying to mix together a veteran roster that includes four returning starters from last season with six newcomers, including five freshman.
Sunday’s lopsided victory was beneficial because it allowed some of the younger players to gain valuable experience.
“I think it’s critical for any team because when you have young players, you’ve got to be able to let them get in the game, makes mistakes and stay in the game,” said McCaffery, who has led Iowa to the NCAA Tournament in each of the past two seasons. “If every possession in the game was in the balance, it’s hard to do sometimes.
“You kind of go back to your veterans.”
Sophomore forward Dom Uhl was the only starter for Iowa who played more than 20 minutes on Sunday. He was inserted in the starting lineup for Jok and finished with 18 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes.
Uhl’s performance on Sunday was a major step up from Iowa’s final exhibition game when he only played two minutes in a loss to Augustana.
“I’m really proud of him, the way he’s played, the energy level that he’s played with and his ability to make plays off the dribble and also affect the game at the rim with rebounding and his leaping ability and his length,” McCaffery said of the 6-9 Uhl. “He seems to be playing with a lot of confidence and shooting the ball well.”
Iowa shot 55.6 percent from the field on Sunday, making 40-of-72 field-goal attempts, including 12-of-28 3-point baskets. Uhl made three 3-pointers, while 6-8 junior college transfer Dale Jones led Iowa with four treys off the bench.
McCaffery used 14 players in Sunday’s game, with 11 of them scoring at least two points. Senior walk-on Okay Ukah scored six points while playing just four minutes off the bench late in the second half. He also made a basket to put Iowa over the century mark.
Freshman forward Brandon Hutton didn’t play on Sunday because McCaffery still is deciding whether to redshirt the 6-5 Chicago native this season.
“I’m being a little careful with that, whether we’re going to burn his year or not,” McCaffery said.
McCaffery already has decided to redshirt Chicago native Isaiah Moss this season. The 6-5 swingman watched Sunday’s game on the bench in street clothes, along with Jok, who also was in street clothes.