IOWA CITY, Ia. — Mike Gesell had a miserable first half. Four points. Three turnovers. Two assists.
“I was really struggling,” Iowa’s freshman point guard said after a 73-61 victory against Central Michigan on Monday before an announced crowd of 10,578 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
His team was struggling, too. Iowa was stagnant on offense, holding a precarious 29-26 halftime lead against a spunky team coached by Iowa grad and former Drake coach Keno Davis.
But Gesell accounted for six of Iowa’s first eight field goals in the second half — two on assists to Aaron White for dunks, three 3-pointers and a layup. Gesell’s last two 3-pointers came during a 13-1 run that put Iowa in front 54-40 halfway through the closing half.
Gesell’s flurry came with fellow rookie point guard Anthony Clemmons on the floor with him. Clemmons, a defensive stopper, played 15 second-half minutes as Iowa coach Fran McCaffery went small to contain the smaller Chippewas’ dribble penetration.
“We didn’t go small,” said Davis, who has no player taller than 6-foot-8 on his roster. “We just are small.”
McCaffery played lineups of four and five guards to counter. That got Clemmons on the floor for extended minutes.
“They didn't play like freshmen, “ McCaffery said. “Mike never does. The great thing about Anth
ony is he made a couple freshman mistakes but came right back. He didn't linger on them, and that's a big-time sign for me that he's special.”
When Clemmons was at the point, Gesell was freed up to look for his shot. And Clemmons, who finished with nine points and four assists, found him.
“When Mike’s in a rhythm, he’s almost unguardable,” Clemmons said. “On and off the ball. When a man gets a hot hand, you’ve just got to keep going to him.”
Davis worked for the Big Ten Network a year ago after being fired by Providence. He did several games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. In his last appearance, an Iowa victory over Minnesota on Feb.1, Davis interviewed Iowa’s Devyn Marble.
On Monday, Marble scored 18 points against Davis and his team. There was no question which profession, broadcasting or coaching, Davis considers more challenging.
“They don’t keep any score when you interview guys,” Davis said.
Gesell finished with 15 points, and he had three assists and no turnovers in the second half.
White added 14 points and nine rebounds and Melsahn Basabe blocked four shots.
Gesell and Clemmons have spent many a practice this season going head-to-head.
“Just going against each other every day, trying to get each other better,” Clemmons said.
On Monday they were side-by-side, a combination McCaffery said he won’t hesitate to use when the situation presents itself in the future.
“I think we played well together,” Gesell said.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball