Feb. 7, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa – The University of Iowa men’s basketball team looks to build on its two-game winning streak when it welcomes No. 13 Wisconsin to Mediacom Court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Wednesday.
“It would be great for us to continue to play well and to beat a team that, on a national level, has already proven where they are,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery at Monday’s weekly meeting with the media. “They have one of the longest NCAA Tournament streaks of anybody in the country, and for good reason.”
Wisconsin enters the contest with a 17-5 overall and a 7-3 Big Ten record after routing Michigan State, 82-56, on Sunday. The Badgers are perfect inside the Kohl Center, but are 2-4 in true road games with their lone conference win coming at Northwestern (78-46) on Jan. 26.
The Hawkeyes are coming off a 72-52 rout of Michigan State on Feb. 2 and a come-from-behind 64-63 road victory at Indiana last Saturday. The team’s current two-game conference winning streak is the first for Iowa since the 2007 season when it won three straight.
“We need to see if we can continue to be consistent,” said McCaffery. “I think we all agree the Michigan State game was our best 40 minutes of the year, and then to go on the road and be able to come back, in that environment, that’s not an easy place to play.”
Junior Bryce Cartwright has taken on the role of a “point guard” the last four games, averaging 11.8 points and 8.8 assists per contest. The Compton, Calif., native posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists against Michigan State. He followed it up with 15 points and eight assists at Indiana, which included netting the game-winning shot.
“He (Bryce) is becoming a guy that’s athletic and can make plays to a guy that’s athletic and can make plays, but has also become cerebral in terms of his ability to understand exactly what we want,” said McCaffery. “The thing that has impressed most people is he’s just fearless. That’s what we need. That’s what this team needed.”
The Hawkeyes also need a low post presence and more games than not, freshman Melsahn Basabe is filling that role. The New York native posted his fifth double-double at Indiana, finishing with 20 points and 13 rebounds. His performance gained praise from ESPN’s Stephen Bardo, as the color commentator proclaimed Basabe would be the unanimous Freshman of the Year in the Big Ten if not for Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger.
“I thought he could do this,” said McCaffery. “What we have to do is get him to the point where he doesn’t have those four point, three rebound games (vs. Michigan State). If we can get him to have those games be 10-6 (points-rebounds), now you’re talking about a legitimate Big Ten All Star.
“I’ve been impressed with is his work ethic and when he has a bad game he studies the film, he’s trying to get better and trying to figure it out.”
McCaffery is hoping the fans come out to support his squad to help the Hawkeyes gain an advantage over the Badgers.
“If we can get the fans (to come out) tomorrow, that’s going to help our energy level,” said McCaffery. “It’s a team you have to rebound against and a team you have to defend. They are going to run the clock and the fans are helping us in runs, when they make them and we help them.
“In this case those that have come to watch this team have enjoyed what they have seen and enjoyed our players and what they have been able to accomplish.”
Wednesday’s game against the Badgers is Iowa’s final “Family 4-Pack” game of 2010-11 — 4 tickets, 4 hot dogs and 4 soft drinks for just $60. Click HERE to purchase a 4-pack online or call 1-800 IA-HAWKS. The Iowa-Wisconsin game is also the first of four where fans of the Hawkeyes who have unused Iowa-Michigan State game tickets can exchange those. For details about that opportunity, click HERE.