Iowa holds off Drake 70-64
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) A week after a devastating loss at No. 5 Iowa State, Iowa jumped back into the win column on Saturday.
But it wasn't exactly the kind of performance the Hawkeyes were looking for with Big Ten play set to begin.
Mike Gesell scored 17 points, including a crucial dunk with 30 seconds left, and Iowa held off Drake 70-64.
The Hawkeyes (8-3) blocked a school-record 14 shots - including six from freshman Nicholas Baer - in beating the in-state rival Bulldogs for the 32nd time in their last 35 meetings.
Iowa went on a 13-2 run midway through the second half, but Ore Arogundade's 3-pointer pulled Drake within 66-64 with 1:37 left.
Jarrod Uthoff answered with a layup, and Gesell's dunk sealed a win that was a lot closer than expected for the Hawkeyes.
''Very important, you learn from it. The Iowa State one hurt,'' Gesell said about the Hawkeyes blowing a 20-point lead in an 83-82 loss to the Cyclones. ''We did a good job down the stretch.''
Reed Timmer had 25 points - including 16 straight down the stretch - to lead the Bulldogs (4-7), who have dropped four in a row.
Baer, who also scored 13 points with seven rebounds for Iowa, isn't even on scholarship yet.
But Baer continues to show that coach Fran McCaffery may found a steal in the Bettendorf, Iowa product.
In fact, the Hawkeyes might have lost if it were not for Baer's contributions.
Baer drilled back-to-back 3s to help Iowa push its lead to 53-45. Baer also kept a play alive - which ended in a Gesell score - with a heads-up save near the baseline, and then threw a perfect pass to Uthoff for an easy bucket.
Baer's 3-pointer with 4:22 to go pushed Iowa back out front 63-56.
''I'm not surprised at all. When I first saw him play, I was kind of shocked he didn't have much recruiting activity. We just offered him an opportunity and he jumped on it,'' McCaffery said of Baer. ''Obviously we're going to have to give him a scholarship at some point.''
Uthoff, who scored 30 points in the first half against Iowa State, was forced to the bench after picking up two fouls in the first five minutes.
Uthoff then picked up his third foul just 76 seconds after the break and went back to the bench. Still, his late layup was crucial in securing the win for Iowa - which hosts No. 1 Michigan State next week.
Iowa: Uhl threw up a 60-footer at the first half buzzer that went straight through the net. The problem was that the shot clock had already expired. ...The Hawkeyes committed just three turnovers, none of which led to a Drake point. ...Uthoff finished with 10 points and five blocks.
Drake: Timmer, the key piece in coach Ray Giacoletti's rebuilding effort, has scored 72 points in his last three games. ...The Bulldogs were outscored 38-22 in the paint, but they outrebounded Iowa 39-31.
The game was the opener of a doubleheader, with the Cyclones facing Northern Iowa in the nightcap. The Iowa-Drake game drew 15,424 fans, roughly double what it would have been if Drake had hosted the Hawkeyes on campus - just a few miles away - like it used to in the past.
''We talked all week about taking the fight to Iowa. The last couple of nights against DePaul and Nevada we kind of let them punch us first to get going. I thought tonight we took the fight to them immediately,'' Giacoletti said.
Iowa hosts Tennessee Tech on Tuesday.
Drake hosts Abilene Christian on Tuesday.