DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa coach Fran McCaffery’s solution to having 10 guys who can play has been to play them all.
It has made the 23rd-ranked Hawkeyes one of the deepest and most dangerous teams in the country.
Iowa’s rotation is the envy of opponents everywhere. The Hawkeyes have 10 players averaging at least 15 minutes per game, and they’re getting nearly half of their Big Ten-leading 89.5 points a game from their backups.
Iowa’s experienced and athletic pool of reserves has allowed the Hawkeyes to push the tempo whenever they want.
They rank fourth nationally with a scoring margin of plus-24.6 a game heading into Friday night’s game at No. 17 Iowa State (7-0).
“The thing that they’re great at is transition offense. They really get out and run,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. “They’re great on the glass as well. Those are going to be two huge keys for us, is getting back in transition and trying to slow them down and limit them to one shot, which is easier said than done.”
Iowa’s exceptional bench numbers have been boosted by its six wins of at least 30 points, which has allowed its reserves to play extensive minutes.
If the bench has a star, it’s forward Jarrod Uthoff.
Uthoff has come off the bench in every game in part because of the performance of senior Melsahn Basabe. But Uthoff is the team’s leading rebounder, and his presence at the end of tight games is a testament to how much McCaffery already trusts him.
Basabe and Uthoff were joined by junior center Gabe Olaseni, whose 14 points and 10 boards gave Iowa three players with regulation double-doubles for the first time since 1993.
Peter Jok, the only freshman in Iowa’s rotation, has taken advantage of all those blowouts to show his promise as a potential volume scorer in years to come.
Senior forward Zach McCabe, once a starter, is playing the best basketball of his career through 11 games.