Nov. 28, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team is looking forward to the big stage, playing a Big Ten/ACC Challenge match-up against Clemson on Tuesday night inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“Beating a high-quality ACC team like that could definitely boost our confidence,” said senior Matt Gatens, who will be playing in his 100th career game on Tuesday. “This could be a quality win for us. They’ll come in here ready to play, and they need a win as bad as we do.”
The Hawkeyes are 2-8 all-time in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Last season, Iowa lost at Wake Forest, 76-73, on a last second 3-pointer. The Hawkeyes’ last victory in the Challenge came in 2005 over North Carolina State, 45-42.
Clemson, a team that has made four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, enter the game with a 3-2 record under second-year head coach Brad Brownell. The Tigers are coming off a 59-49 home victory over Furman on Nov. 25.
“Beating a high-quality ACC team like that could definitely boost our confidence. This could be a quality win for us. They’ll come in here ready to play, and they need a win as bad as we do.”
Senior Matt Gatens
Andre Young paces Clemson in scoring at 14.4 points per game, while forwards Milton Jennings and Devin Booker average 12.4 and 10.6 points, respectively.
“Young is a senior that can really go,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “Booker and Jennings can really play. They’re 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-9 and have a complete skill set. They can put it on the deck, shoot the 3s, post up and can finish with either hand. They’re phenomenally athletic.”
“They’re going to be a hard-nosed team,” said sophomore Roy Devyn Marble. “They have some big guys that can rebound, so we have to do a much better job rebounding than we have in the past. This is going to be a tough match-up for us.”
McCaffery and the Hawkeyes will look for a boost from sophomore forward Melsahn Basabe. The forward has averaged two points over the past three games and grabbed a total of 10 rebounds.
“It’s always a something you’re concerned with when guys aren’t playing as well as you know they’re capable of playing,” said McCaffery. “Melsahn is still struggling, but the thing that’s encouraging for me is he’s practiced well.
“He’s addressing the situation and working hard. He’s trying to get into better shape. I think he’s closer than maybe it looks right now.”
McCaffery is pleased with the depth showcased by his squad. Eight players are averaging at least 7.2 points with Gatens leading the way with a 16.8 per game average.
“We have eight players averaging seven points or more,” said McCaffery. “We’re a different kind of team than we had last year. It’s good because it’s more difficult to prepare for us and they (other teams) won’t know who is going to catch fire tonight.”
Marble has been solid for the team the last two games. He scored a season-high 14 points against Campbell before following it up with an 11-point showing in Iowa’s 82-72 victory over IPFW.
“The thing that has really been good for him is playing he and Bryce (Cartwright) together,” said McCaffery. “I’ve got to play him off the ball some. He’s too good as a scorer and slasher. Playing over there kind of gets him going, and that’s important for him.”
Tuesday’s game is slated to begin at 8:20 p.m. on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and it will be broadcast on ESPNU with Adam Amin and LaPhonso Ellis calling the action. The game will be “Bryce Cartwright Bobblehead Night” and “Dollar Dog Night”.