Next Up: No. 1 Ohio State

Jan. 17, 2011

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Thirteen days ago the Iowa men’s basketball team faced second-ranked Ohio State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. On Wednesday night, the Hawkeyes will square off against the Buckeyes again, but this time, OSU enters the contest as the No. 1 ranked team in the land.

“I think it brings a different dynamic for both teams,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery on the Big Ten teleconference on Monday. “Ohio State, coming into the season, felt like it had a chance to be one of the elite teams and make a run to the Final Four, and they’ve played that way.

“We know we’re going on the road to play the No. 1 team in the country. We’ll need a performance like yesterday (at Minnesota) in terms of minimizing our mistakes.”

The Hawkeyes bounced back from a pair of lackluster outings to drop a 69-59 decision at Minnesota on Sunday night. Iowa rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit to take the lead early in the second half before ultimately dropping the 10-point decision.

The Hawkeyes were able to stay competitive in the contest by taking care of the basketball. They committed 10 turnovers in the game with two coming in the second half.

“I feel like yesterday, despite our defeat, we played a really good Minnesota team, and I thought we played the type of basketball that gave us a chance to win.”
UI head coach Fran McCaffery

“I feel like yesterday, despite our defeat, we played a really good Minnesota team, and I thought we played the type of basketball that gave us a chance to win,” said McCaffery.

“Against Purdue and Northwestern, we took a step back and yesterday, we took a step back forward to competing the way we’re capable of and really limiting our mistakes. That’s what we have to do to beat the teams of this caliber.”

The Hawkeyes put a scare in the Buckeyes two weeks ago in Iowa City, dropping a 73-68 decision. At the time, it was the closest game OSU had played this season. In that game, freshman Melsahn Basabe went toe-to-toe with Buckeye freshman Jared Sullinger, finishing with 22 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks.

Basabe had similar performance against Minnesota on Sunday, tallying a double-double with 20 points and 13 points with just one turnover in 35 minutes.

“I was really, really pleased with Melsahn’s game yesterday, especially going up against someone like (Trevor) Mbakwe, who’s been so dominant and strong and has that maturity over Melsahn,” said McCaffery. “What we’re seeing Melsahn do is develop as a scorer, which we desperately need, an inside scoring presence.”

Basabe and the Hawkeyes will now have the opportunity to face a top-ranked team for the first time since the 2005 season when Iowa played No. 1 Illinois twice in a span of a month. The Hawkeyes are 2-18 all-time against the Associated Press’ top-ranked team with their last victory coming over Connecticut (70-68) at Madison Square Garden in New York on Nov. 11, 1999.

McCaffery will be on the sidelines against a No. 1 ranked team for the second time as a head coach. During the 2009 NCAA Tournament, he led his Siena squad against top-ranked Louisville in Dayton, which ended in a 79-72 defeat.

Wednesday night’s game will be broadcast to a national audience on the Big Ten Network beginning at 5:35 p.m.