PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Peter Jok sat out another game Tuesday night and his youthful teammates did pretty much the same thing they did the first time it happened.
And in the process, the Iowa basketball team accomplished something it hadn’t done all season.
Jordan Bohannon led a crisply executed game plan at both ends of the court as the Hawkeyes claimed their first victory in a true road game, romping to an 83-63 win over Rutgers at the RAC.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery called it his team's "most cohesive effort, most consistent effort'' in a road game all season.
Iowa is now 2-0 with Jok, the Big Ten’s scoring leader, sidelined by a nagging back injury. Neither game has been close.
“I think it was just a matter of calming everyone down and realizing where we are right now and where we want to go,’’ Bohannon said of the team’s Jok-less success on a postgame radio interview. “We’ve had a lot of guys come off bench and contribute …
“We’re just playing the right way right now.’’
The Hawkeyes (13-10, 5-5 Big Ten) have been notorious for getting off to slow starts in conference games, especially while going 0-5 on the road. But this time they held Rutgers scoreless for the first three minutes, opened an early 7-0 lead and took off from there.
They needed only a little more than seven minutes to open a 20-point cushion (26-6) as Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell called three timeouts in a little more than 11 minutes in an attempt to slow them down.
Nothing seemed to work.
“We got out and ran early,’’ McCaffery said in his postgame radio interview. “Then they hit us with their three-quarters court press and we handled that better than we have all year, and got more easy baskets off that.’’
Rutgers (12-11, 1-9 Big Ten) took first-place Wisconsin into overtime on Saturday, holding the Badgers to 45 points in regulation time.
The Hawkeyes, however, scored 48 points against the Scarlet Knights in the first half alone, the most by Iowa in a Big Ten game this season and the most allowed by Rutgers before halftime in any game.
“I just couldn’t be prouder of their attention to detail and their fight …’’ McCaffery added. “We saw what (Rutgers) did against Wisconsin the other day. They had Wisconsin beat. So we were ready.’’
The Scarlet Knights crept to within 16 (53-37) early in the second half before the Hawkeyes finished them off with an 11-2 scoring run that included 3-point field goals by Bohannon and Nicholas Baer. They led by as much as 28 (76-48) at one point.
Bohannon finished with 17 points, making 5 of 7 3-point field goal attempts in what McCaffery described as a "flawless, spectacular'' performance. Cordell Pemsl added 15 points, Isaiah Moss 11, Tyler Cook 10 and Ahmad Wagner 9.
Deshawn Freeman led Rutgers with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
That second-half three was all the points Baer scored, but he contributed five rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocked shots.
“Baer’s just an animal, as everyone says around campus,’’ Bohannon said. “He’s a one of a kind player, somebody you love to have on your team and hate to play against.’’
The Hawkeyes shot 50 percent from the field in the game and made 11 of 18 shots from 3-point range against a team ranked 16th in the country in field goal percentage defense.
McCaffery’s favorite statistic was the fact that the Hawkeyes had 24 assists on 30 field goals.
“It didn’t matter what lineup was on the floor,’’ he noted. “That’s the key. Everybody contributed.’’