Lickliter, Iowa focus on upcoming Big Ten opponents

Jan. 14, 2008

BTN interview with Tony Freeman

University of Iowa Game Notes

IOWA CITY, Iowa — There is little time for the University of Iowa to enjoy its 43-36 men’s basketball victory over No. 6 Michigan State on Jan. 12. The Hawkeyes have two more Big Ten clashes scheduled this week — Wednesday, Jan. 16, against Purdue at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and Saturday, Jan. 19, at Michigan.

“Obviously there is no rest,” UI head coach Todd Lickliter said. “We’re back at it. I thought Tony (Freeman) said it really well when he said it was a very nice win and a great team effort, but pretty quickly you have to move on. That’s what you expect in the Big Ten.”

The game against Purdue begins at 6:05 p.m. and $10 youth tickets are available. All week-day home games the rest of the season (Wisconsin, Feb. 6; Michigan, Feb. 14; Northwestern, Feb. 19) will feature the $10 youth admission charge.

Iowa is 8-9 overall, 1-3 in the Big Ten Conference. Purdue is 11-5, 2-1 and Michigan is 5-11, 1-3.

Lickliter was asked if he felt the Hawkeyes needed more league victories to validate the memorable seven-point victory against the Spartans.

“We need some wins this week because we’re playing other teams,” Lickliter said at his weekly media gathering. “I don’t think our system needs validation. Our guys are working hard to make the system work here. What we’re doing is seeing if we can be a really good basketball team.”

Purdue has won three of its last four games, including a 75-68 decision at home against Ohio State on Jan. 12. Three days earlier, the Buckeyes defeated Iowa by 31 points in Columbus.

“Purdue is playing very well right now,” Lickliter said. “I’ve always had a lot of respect for (head coach) Matt Painter.”

Nine Boilermakers average at least 4.9 points per game and three average more than 10 points a game. Keaton Grant (10.6), Scott Martin (10.3) and Robbie Hummel (10.1) are the top scorers for Purdue. Grant and E’Twaun Moore have made 28 and 24 three-point field goals. Hummel is the rebounding leader with 6.1 per outing and is second in the league in free throw percentage (46 of 54, .852).

In Big Ten games only, Purdue is tops in free throw percentage (.732), blocked shots (5.67 per game) and three-point field goals per game (8.33).

Lickliter said he has heard many positive comments about Iowa’s victory against Michigan State. Despite a the fact the teams combined for 79 points, Lickliter also mentioned that it was an exciting game.

“As long as we have one more point than the opponent, I don’t worry about tempo or pace,” Lickliter said. “That was not a boring game. It was an exciting game. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it was beauty to me.”

Iowa has cracked the national statistical charts, ranking 15th in field goal defense (39.6 percent) and 40th in scoring defense (57.5). Senior guard Justin Johnson ranks 18th with 3.4 three-point field goals per game. Freeman leads the Hawkeyes in scoring this season with 102 points in seven games (14.6), followed by Johnson with 244 points in 17 games (14.4). Kurt Looby leads with 6.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game.

Lickliter said that there have been periods this season when he felt the Hawkeyes were good, tough-minded and successful, even though that didn’t always translate into a victory. He said the program needs to keep working to elevate itself to the appreciation fans have for Iowa on a national level.

“We have to compete in games and compete for championships,” Lickliter said. “Then we’ll be where the University of Iowa deserves to be.”

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