National Player of the Year candidate Jarrod Uthoff is one of the hottest names in college basketball, anchoring a surging Iowa team. But in the Hawkeyes' loss to Maryland on Thursday, Uthoff hit a wall against Maryland forwards Robert Carter Jr., and Jake Layman. It was the Iowa senior's worst showing of the season.
The 6'9 Uthoff, a 48.7 percent shooter on the season, shot an abysmal 15.8 percent from the floor, for just 9 points - snapping a perfect season's worth of double-digit outings – as he averages 18.9 points a night. He missed 11 of his 13 shots.
Carter started the game on Iowa's star, and Layman finished it. The Terps put their focus on taking away Uthoff's jump shot, they said, especially around the 3-point arc, where he fires at 48.9 percent.
"He could shoot the ball, and he could really shoot deep," said Carter. "Once he starts making shots, you worry about him making shots. Then he gets into drives, and pull-ups and things like that. First thing you've got to stop is his jump shot, and then everything else follows."
Uthoff missed all 11 of his jumper attempts for the game.
The duo of Carter and Layman held Iowa's leading shot-maker without a field goal until almost 2 minutes into the second half, as he missed four 2-point jump shots and another from 3-point range to walk into the locker room shooting 0-for-5 at the half. He had 3 measly points at the foul line.
"I had to get something going," said Uthoff. "I was playing terrible the whole game, and that's how it goes sometimes. I tried to get myself open as much as I could, but it happens."
The second half was only slightly better. Uthoff was only able to convert on two field goals – both off layup attempts – and missed on four more jump shots and another pair of threes. Tough defense from Layman was memorable, as Uthoff was often forced into taking contested looks or fade from the rim. The misses weren't all just products of a poor shooting performance. Shot defense was a serious factor.
"They were very physical," Uthoff said in a hallway outside Iowa's locker room after the game had ended. "They got up into us. They had a lot of energy coming out on defense and we played tentative."
Mike Gesell, Iowa's starting point guard, was more elaborate in discussing Maryland's strategy on Uthoff.
"They really face-guarded him," Gesell said. "They switched when they needed, and they really didn't ever leave him. You know, he's one of the best players in the country, so I think a lot of teams are going to start playing him like that, and we've got to do a better job of trying to get him open."