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Ark.-Pine Bluff-Iowa Preview

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP)

Iowa is gearing up for the return of junior guard Josh Oglesby, one of the team's best outside threats.

Now the No. 25 Hawkeyes just have to find a place to play him.

Oglesby, who missed the first 12 games of the season with a broken foot, is expected to make his season debut Sunday when Iowa (10-2) wraps up non-conference play against Arkansas-Pine Bluff (2-8).

But the Hawkeyes already use at least 10 players a game - and benches typically get shorter once league play starts.

Still, coach Fran McCaffery considers Oglesby a versatile player with Big Ten play just a week and a half away.

"I look at him as one of our better players. He can pass, he can defend. He doesn't turn it over, he's experienced and he happens to make some jump shots," McCaffery said. "Whatever we need to do with him, we'll do with him. He's ready."

As a freshman two years ago, Oglesby was one of the Hawkeyes' best outside shooters, but a season-long slump in 2012-13 cast doubts on his future role with Iowa.

Oglesby's 3-point shooting dipped from 37.2 to 26.9 percent last season. He finished just 52 of 190 from the floor - dismal numbers for any player but especially brutal for a shooting guard.

But McCaffery remains optimistic that Oglesby, who he views as much more than a spot-up shooter off the bench, can play key minutes for a team in line to compete for a conference title.

Though Oglesby is still working to get back into shape, McCaffery said he was impressed by how the player looked in practice ahead of his debut.

"The thing about Josh is, he just really knows how to play. And when you put a guy on the floor who is 6-foot-6, is tough, who can make shots and can handle the ball and knows what to do ... those guys help you win," McCaffery said.

Oglesby has been used almost exclusively off the bench, and that's unlikely to change.

Many of Oglesby's reserve minutes went to freshman Peter Jok, and Jok has proven to be a viable offensive option with 7.8 points in just 14.4 minutes per game.

Jok and sophomore combo guard Anthony Clemmons have served as the primary backups to Mike Gesell and Devyn Marble, and it seems as if Oglesby will join those two in a competition for rather sparse playing time.

"It's going to be hard to figure because 11 is harder than 10," McCaffery said. "Those three guys can help us win games, and we'll rotate them accordingly."

The challenge of integrating an experienced guard like Oglesby illustrates just how much talent McCaffery has stockpiled in his fourth season in Iowa City.

Iowa has solidified its status as a Big Ten contender with a largely successful non-conference season. It has just two losses - to No. 8 Villanova in OT on a neutral floor and at No. 17 Iowa State by three last week - and has beaten Notre Dame and Xavier.

"I think we're about where I thought we'd be. We've played well at times. We've been fairly consistent," McCaffery said. "We've gotten really good play from a lot of different people."

Pine Bluff opened with victories over fellow HBCs Tuskegee and Morehouse before losing its next eight games, beginning with a 97-63 loss to then-No. 8 Oklahoma State on Nov. 15.

The Golden Lions, who have allowed opponents to shoot nearly 50 percent this season, are coming off an 88-51 loss to Creighton in which they shot 37.3 percent from the field and missed 15 of their 21 3-point attempts.

DaVon Hayes (12.6) and Tevin Hammond (12.2) are the team's only two players averaging double digits in scoring.

Tagged: Iowa

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