TOM CANAVAN, AP Sports Writer
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — With Rutgers coming off its worst home loss, Iowa junior guard Peter Jok understood that the No. 9 Hawkeyes were going to be pushed a little by the struggling Scarlet Knights.READ MORE: 4-Year Long Project Aims To Repair I-275 Starting This Summer
The Hawkeyes handled it with a big game from Jok.
He scored a career-high 29 points and Iowa shook off pesky Rutgers in the second half in posting a harder-than-expected 90-76 victory on Thursday night.
“We saw they got beat by 50, but we weren’t really worried about that,” Jok said. “We wanted to come out here and work on us and not worry about the score from last game. We knew we were going to get their best because they got embarrassed on that last game.”
Jarrod Uthoff and Anthony Clemmons added 20 points apiece as the Hawkeyes (15-3, 6-0) won their eighth straight game and their 12th in a row in the Big Ten Conference, dating to last season.
Iowa used a zone defense late in the first half in a 16-7 run that gave it a 45-37 lead, and it opened the game up in the second half with its long-range shooting.
Mike Williams had 17 points to lead Rutgers (6-14, 0-7), which was coming off a 107-57 loss to No. 22 Purdue on Monday.
“We knew that we were going to get a really intense effort from Rutgers,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “Eddie’s (Jordan) been around. I think Monday night was a fluke. It’s a bad match and I think to man their players committed themselves to competing in a different way which they did.”
Jonathan Laurent, who was returning after missing four games with a concussion, added 14 points and Corey Sanders had 12 for the Scarlet Knights, who have lost their last 22 conference games, including tournament play.
Jok, who is the conference’s reigning player of the week, hit 10 of 19 from the field, and matched his season-high with five 3-pointers. He scored 10 of the Hawkeyes first 13 points and his last basket cut short Rutgers final rally.
“He’s really playing extremely well,” McCaffery said. “I’m just happy to see him getting steals and getting rebounds. A couple mistakes, but not many. He doesn’t rattle. Twenty-nine on the road, five 3s — pretty good.”
Jok’s previous high was 24 points against Florida State earlier this season.
The Scarlet Knights put up a much better fight than against Purdue on Monday as they rallied from an 11-point first-half deficit and took a 30-29 lead on a basket by Williams with 4:26 to play.
“It’s very encouraging,” Williams said of Rutgers’ effort. “As short-handed and undermanned as we are, we showed we have a never-say-die attitude. We could have let that 50-point loss kill us and kill our momentum and our season, that’s not the way you want it to be. You have to show you have a sense of pride.”READ MORE: Pastor Calls For Prayer Rally In Response To Recent Freeway Shootings
Iowa stood up too after Rutgers took the lead. It switched to a zone and it opened a 45-37 lead as Clemmons scored six points and Jok and Uthoff added five in the 16-7 run.
The Hawkeyes were never threatened in the second half as Uthoff hit three 3-pointers in helping build a 19-point lead with 7:23 to play.
“Nothing went right for them in that game (Rutgers-Purdue) and I think they were looking forward to our matchup and really taking it to us and we handled it well,” Uthoff said.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes No. 9 ranking is the highest since McCaffery took over in 2010, and the lowest since a No. 7 in November 2001. It also marks the first time Iowa has had its football and basketball teams ranked in the top 10 in the same season.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights picked up their board game just days after Purdue outrebounded them 69-23. Iowa only held a 38-33 advantage with Adam Woodbury leading the way with 11. D.J. Foreman had nine for Rutgers.
Iowa hosts No. 22 Purdue on Saturday.
Rutgers visits Michigan on Wednesday.
LONG RANGE: Iowa finished 11 of 29 from 3-point range. The total was one less than their season high. Rutgers was 4 of 17 from long range. Surprisingly, the Scarlet Knights shot 48.4 percent from the field. Iowa finished at 47.7 percent.
AP college basketball website: http://collegebasketball.ap.org/MORE NEWS: Standardized Testing To Resume: U.S. Dept. Of Education Denies Michigan's Testing Waiver Due To COVID
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