IOWA CITY – If Josh Oglesby had been allowed to write the script for his return to action, chances are he couldn’t have dreamed up anything much better than what occurred.
Iowa’s junior guard came off the bench early in the first half and quickly knocked down four straight three-point shots to wake up a sleepy Sunday afternoon crowd and send the Hawkeyes to an 86-61 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Oglesby, playing for the first time after breaking his right foot in practice a few days before the season opener, finished with 13 points. His four three-pointers match his season high of a year ago.
“It felt really good, especially making the first shot so I could get into the groove of things,’’ he said. “This team is so unselfish. They found me and I knocked down some shots.
“Obviously, I’m thrilled but I’m thrilled for the team to be going into the Big Ten season 11-2. It was a good start for me.’’
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery wasn’t the least bit surprised. He has said that Oglesby had a great off-season and immediately after getting hurt, he began working diligently to get back onto the court.
“We started practicing him hard this week to get his timing back and I thought he was really good,’’ McCaffery said. “Not only did he make shots, he was passing it well. He looked very comfortable, I thought.’’
Oglesby got a nice round of applause when he came into game with 15:48 left in the first half. When he left the game 6½ minutes later, he got a rousing ovation.
He started by tossing in a 20-footer from the left wing, slipped the ball to Devyn Marble for a three, drained a three of his own from the left corner, passed to Jarrod Uthoff for a fast-break layup, knocked down a 24-foot bomb, then connected again from the left corner.
When he finally went back to the bench, Oglesby admitted he was “exhausted.’’
“He’s been working hard trying to get back into shape,’’ Marble said. “It’s been tough and it would be for anybody. He’s my guy and I love him to death. Seeing him be able to have some success coming in his first game was definitely a joy for all of us.’’
Oglesby’s early heroics ignited the Hawkeyes, who were playing their first game since a Dec. 13 loss at Iowa State.
Just about everything seemed to go right for them in the first half as they put together a 30-2 scoring run to take a 39-5 lead. They made 11 straight shots from the field in one stretch.
Meanwhile, the visiting Golden Lions (2-9) made just one of 17 shots in the same stretch and took nearly 18 minutes to crack double figures.
With about three minutes left in the half, center Adam Woodbury added the icing on the cake. He chased down a long pass under the Iowa basket and flipped a behind-the-back pass to Aaron White for a dunk.
“I do that in practice every once in while so it’s nothing crazy or out of the realm for me,’’ Woodbury said. “You don’t normally see 7-1 guys doing that so I think the fans probably were a little surprised by that. I hope they enjoyed it.’’
The fans undoubtedly didn’t enjoy the second half as much.
McCaffery didn’t even play three of his starters — Marble, White and Mike Gesell — after halftime. He said White was sick and didn’t even practice Saturday, and he didn’t want to risk getting Marble hurt in what evolved into a very sloppy game.
The Hawkeyes ended up with 27 turnovers — their highest total in more than two years — and McCaffery ended up shouting angrily at his team during a couple of timeouts late in the game.
“I don’t care about that really,’’ the coach said of the turnovers. “They were pressing the scout team. I had a lot of inexperienced guys in there. It’s no big deal.’’