Lickliter Excited by Noon, Saturday Game

Jan. 14, 2010

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team anticipates that its final home Saturday game will also produce its first conference victory.

The Hawkeyes (6-11 overall, 0-4 Big Ten Conference) wrap up a stretch of seven of eight games inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena by hosting Penn State on Jan. 16 at 12:06 p.m. The Nittany Lions are 8-8, 0-4.

“A noon game is exciting,” UI head coach Todd Lickliter said at a press conference Thursday. “When I think about the crowds we had last year on the weekends for Big Ten. I’m hoping we can have a good crowd and a crowd that’s very pro-Hawkeye and one that will carry us. We’ve had some good ones this year and we’re appreciative of the support.”

The game will be broadcast by the Big Ten Network. The only other time the Hawkeyes will have a weekend home contest will be against Indiana on Sunday, Feb. 28.

“I’m assuming it’s done by computer, so you get the hand you’re dealt,” Lickliter said of the schedule. “If I told you I had input, what would you think of me if this is the schedule that came out? We start at home with the students out (Dec. 29 against Purdue) and now we have one Sunday game left. It’s disappointing, especially when you think about we have fans come from quite a distance, so the evening games are hard. It’s really important that we can have the weekend games and we just weren’t given any.”

Penn State has dropped its last four games — all in the league — and its lone road victory is a 69-66 triumph at Virginia on Nov. 30. Last season the Nittany Lions won the postseason NIT championship.

“They’re a really good team,” Lickliter said. “Everybody talks about Talor Battle; he’s a great player, but I think he would tell you and (head coach) Ed (DeChellis) would tell you that he’s not alone. They have a good supporting cast and very dangerous. Their interior is long, (Chris) Babb’s shooting it well; I like them a lot. They’re an explosive, explosive team that stays extremely poised.”

Battle leads Penn State in scoring (17.6 points per game), 3-point field goals (35), rebounds (5.5 per game) and assists (3.6).

“Another Big Ten real good point guard,” UI freshman Cully Payne said of Battle. “He’s real quick, athletic. He’s a real good guard.”

Iowa is looking for a second consecutive win after defeating Tennessee State, 67-62, Tuesday. After playing Penn State, the Hawkeyes return to the road to play at Michigan State (Wednesday, Jan. 20) and at Indiana (Sunday, Jan. 24).

“We have a little bit of confidence back; it’s been up-tempo,” Payne said. “That win (against Tennessee State) was a big one.”

The Hawkeyes hold a 21-11 record in the all-time series against Penn State. Iowa has won seven consecutive against the Nittany Lions at home, including a 75-67, double-overtime thriller March 7, 2009. Penn State’s last win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena was 78-73 in 2001.