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Hawkeyes hold off Minnesota

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Iowa forward Jarrod Uthoff is fouled by Minnesota center Bakary Konate. Uthoff recorded his third double-double of the year (24 points, 15 rebounds, six blocks).

IOWA CITY (AP) — Last season, a rough start might have derailed Jarrod Uthoff’s entire night.

Now, as a senior, Iowa’s leading scorer barely flinched.

Uthoff was held scoreless for nearly 17 minutes to open the game, but finished with 24 points, 15 rebounds and six blocked shots to help the fourth-ranked Hawkeyes hold off skidding Minnesota 75-71 on Sunday.

“I thought he was great for this reason,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said, “he started slow and he continued to be aggressive. I think that’s been the evolution of him as a player. We needed him to do that today.”

Peter Jok scored 27 points to lead the Hawkeyes (20-5, 11-2), who rebounded from Thursday’s loss at Indiana to regain sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.

Nate Mason had 14 points for Minnesota, which has lost 14 straight games. The Gophers (6-19, 0-13) extended their worst start ever in conference play.

Uthoff became the third Big Ten player in the last 20 years to have 20 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots in a game, joining Minnesota’s Joel Pryzbilla (2000) and Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson (2011). He’s the first Iowa player with 20 points and 15 boards since 2003. The 15 rebounds were a career best.

Uthoff helped secure the victory for the Hawkeyes with a big dunk, three blocks and a pair of free throws in the final 1:17.

Iowa’s top scorer at 18.6 points per game, Uthoff missed his first seven shots. But he took over during a pivotal first-half stretch.

He scored nine straight points going into halftime, helping the Hawkeyes end the first half on a 12-2 run to regain the lead. The forward got on the board with a pair of drives, then connected on a 30-foot 3-pointer.

“It was a big momentum changer,” Uthoff said.

Minnesota cut Iowa’s lead to 66-64 on two free throws by Joey King with 2:58 remaining, but the Gophers went 2 for 8 from the field in the final two minutes.

Minnesota has lost seven of its last eight games by eight points or fewer.

“Now is not the time to crush them, but to be there for them,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. “I really can’t worry about yesterday. I can’t worry about the future. I just have to worry about here and now and just be there for my guys.”

Jok shot 8 of 14 and hit four 3-pointers to reach 20 points for the eighth time this season. The guard scored 11 of Iowa’s first 15 second-half points.

Anthony Clemmons added 12 points for the Hawkeyes.

Dupree McBrayer had 12 points for Minnesota. Jordan Murphy scored 11.

Copyright 2016 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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