IOWA CITY — Probably the most anyone connected with the Iowa basketball team perspired on Thursday night was with 6 minutes, 32 seconds to go in the first half.
That’s when star guard Peter Jok dove on the floor to try to get a loose ball near midcourt and stayed down on the floor writhing in agony and grabbing at his left hip. Carver-Hawkeye Arena fell almost completely silent as Jok finally got up and wobbled to the locker room.
Jok is sort of, well, crucial to whatever the Hawkeyes hope to do with this season. He is first in the Big Ten in scoring, fifth in the country, and even leads the Hawkeyes in rebounding. He’s the only guy on the team who had started more than one game entering this season.
Losing him for any length of time would hurt.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery and pretty much everyone else was sweating it out as they waited to see how serious the injury was.
Fortunately, Jok shook it off, came back, started the second half and finished with 17 points as the Hawkeyes rolled to an 89-57 victory over a horribly outmanned Delaware State team in their final tune-up for the Big Ten season.
The injury apparently is just a bad bruise. Iowa fans can exhale.
“He’s a tough kid. We knew he’d be back,’’ freshman guard Jordan Bohannon said. “He came back and hit a couple of big shots in the second half.’’
It’s not as though the Hawkeyes (8-5) really needed Jok in the second half anyway.
The game was pretty much over after the visiting Hornets missed 17 straight shots and went nearly 12 minutes without a field goal in the first half. The Hawkeyes outscored them 21-1 in one stretch to open a 39-11 cushion. It was 43-20 at halftime.
Obviously, it was no sweat after that although Iowa did get a bit sloppy in the second half, incurring the wrath of their coach and allowing Delaware State to get within 62-41 at one point.
Jok played only four minutes in the second half, then went to the bench and applied an ice pack to his left hip and took it easy the rest of the night.
“He’s pretty sore,’’ McCaffery said after the game. “We thought we’d start him in the second half and see if he could get it loosened up. He scored a quick seven and we said ‘OK, that’s it.’’’
If nothing else, the game provided McCaffery with the opportunity to get an extended look at some young players he has occasionally praised but seldom played.
Freshman Maishe Dailey played a career-high 21 minutes and also reached career highs with eight points and seven rebounds. Ryan Kriener added five points and six rebounds. Those two have been on the outside of the Hawkeyes’ normal rotation but McCaffery has liked what they’ve done.
Bohannon said Dailey has been “shooting the crap out of the ball’’ in practice.
“I’ve just always stayed in the gym, stayed confident, go hard in practice, keep my energy up, get my energy up on the bench to stay positive and when my number is called capitalize,’’ Dailey said.
Sophomore Ahmad Wagner also equaled his career high with 12 points, making all five of his shots from the field. However, his most spectacular shot — a soaring, one-handed dunk off a missed shot — didn’t count because he was called for an offensive foul.
“I wasn’t too mad but I thought it was a pretty nice play,’’ Wagner said.
Christian Williams also notched his career best with nine points.
Delaware State (3-11) heated up in the second half after shooting just 15.2 percent from the field in the first half, finishing at 24.2 percent.
The Hornets, who are in the midst of a stretch of 14 road games in 10 states during the first 17 games of the season, got 24 points from 5-foot-10 Devin Morgan.
It was a nice win, but McCaffery was quick to caution his players that they’ll be stepping up in class next Wednesday in the Big Ten opener at Purdue.
“With all due respect to the teams we’ve played, we’re playing the 15th-ranked team in the country with a lottery pick (Caleb Swanigan) who seems to get 20-20 (points and rebounds) every night …’’ he said.
“I just want to make sure they know and understand that we’ve accomplished a lot but there’s a long way to go. We have as tough an opening game as anyone.’’