IOWA CITY, Iowa – They don’t call it a challenge for nothing.
The Iowa men’s basketball team withstood a major challenge against an athletic Florida State squad on Wednesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, winning 78-75 in overtime at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Junior guard Peter Jok made a 3-point basket from the baseline to give Iowa a 74-72 lead with 24.9 seconds left in overtime. Senior forward Jarrod Uthoff also made four consecutive free throws in the final 10 seconds to secure the victory before an announced attendance of 11,247.
Jok had struggled with his shooting throughout the game, missing six of his first eight attempts from 3-point range.
“All the shots felt good the whole night, they just weren’t falling,” Jok said. “My teammates and the coaches had confidence in me and they kept telling me they’re going to fall, they’re going to fall, and I just kept shooting.
“I don’t think about my last shot because I know the next shot is going to go in. And I just knew they were going to fall sooner or later.”
Iowa improved to 5-2 with the victory and will face Missouri-Kansas City in its next game on Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Florida State fell to 4-2.
Iowa’s victory also secured a seventh consecutive win for the Big Ten Conference in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Big Ten finished 8-6 in this year’s event, which started on Monday.
“I think a win like this is going to benefit us in a lot of ways,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery.
All five of Iowa’s starters scored in double figures, led by Jok’s 24 points on 8-of-20 shooting from the field.
“Down the stretch I thought Jok made a couple big plays that really kept us at bay,” said Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton. “We fought and scrapped, but just made too many execution errors down the stretch that would’ve given us a chance to be successful tonight. I thought that each time we made a mistake, Iowa made us pay.”
Florida State had four starters who scored in double figures, but the Seminoles only made 29-of-76 field-goal attempts, including 5-of-23 shots from 3-point range.
Hamilton said his team, which had two freshmen in the starting lineup, wasn’t patient enough on offense.
“We did a lot of things right, but when you’re on the road and playing a team that is capable of playing as well as this team is capable of playing, you can’t make those kinds of mistakes,” Hamilton said. “But that’s what makes the game of basketball a great game. A team that executes the best most of the time wins the game.”
Iowa had a chance to win the game in regulation, but senior guard Mike Gesell committed a turnover with 2 seconds remaining. Gesell drove underneath the basket and tried to pass to a teammate, but the ball deflected off the back of the backboard.
“I thought Mike did a good job until the one play when he hit the back of the backboard,” McCaffery said. “But I think he drew the defense and he had people. It just took off on him.”
Iowa struggled with Florida State’s quickness throughout the game, but especially early on as the Seminoles bolted to a lead 17-8 in the first eight minutes of the game.
Jok then answered with a basket with 11:11 left before halftime. His basket triggered a 17-4 Hawkeye scoring run that culminated with Jok making another basket that gave Iowa a 25-21 lead with 4:50 left before halftime.
Florida State countered with a 9-0 scoring run and led 30-25 when Gesell drained a 3-pointer with 1:07 left in the first half.
Junior guard Devon Bookert made basket to give Florida State a 32-28 lead with 45 seconds left before halftime.
Jok made his only 3-point basket in the first half with 37 seconds remaining, trimming the lead to 32-31 at halftime.
The Seminoles outscored Iowa 26-12 in the paint in the first half, had a 13-4 advantage in fast-break points and a 24-17 advantage on the boards, including 10-2 on the offensive end.
McCaffery said facing Florida State’s athleticism and length will help to prepare his team for the Big Ten schedule.
“The thing about them is, obviously, they are quick,” McCaffery said of the Seminoles. “But they are bouncy, they are long and they have great size. So you know their guards can gamble a little bit. They have the run protectors up in the passing lanes and they are constantly putting pressure on the ball on the next pass.
“We obviously have some teams in our league that will do that to you. This is great preparation for that. There’s no easy next pass because they are so quick and they are so long.”
Uthoff finished with 15 points and eight rebounds in addition to blocking four shots. Senior center Adam Woodbury scored 11 points, while Gesell and senior guard Anthony Clemmons scored 10 points apiece.
Sophomore forward Dom Uhl also provided a spark off the bench by scoring six points and grabbing five rebounds in 19 minutes.
“I thought Dom Uhl was spectacular,” McCaffery said.
The only bad news for Iowa was the leg injury suffered by junior forward Dale Jones in practice on Tuesday. Jones did not dress for Wednesday’s game and McCaffery wasn’t very optimistic when asked about Jones’ status.
“It could be serious,” McCaffery said. “It’s still swollen. So we’ll wait and see. I know the doctor is talking to him and he’s talking to his mom. He’ll have some decisions to make.”