Dec. 30, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery says his Hawkeyes will have to play their best game of the season to post a victory Saturday at No. 11 Wisconsin.
“It’s a tough place to win on the road,” said McCaffery during a Friday media teleconference. “They’re shooting the ball extremely well, and they have a great point guard. We’re going to have to take care of the basketball, execute and play better defense than we’ve been playing.”
The Badgers enter Saturday’s game riding a six-game winning streak to improve their record to 12-2 on the season. Wisconsin overwhelmed Nebraska in its Big Ten opener, posting a 64-40 in Lincoln, Neb., on Tuesday night.
Senior Jordan Taylor, a 2011 All-America honoree, is leading the Badgers in scoring (12.4) and assists (5.0), while a total of four Wisconsin players average in double figures. Guard Ben Brust, a former Iowa commit under Todd Lickliter, is averaging 10.6 points per game with a majority of his scoring coming from 3-point land.
“He (Brust) makes shots, that’s what he does,” said McCaffery. “He’s been very effective. He’s not a mistake guy. When it’s all said and done, he’s creating space because he’s a weapon you have to pay attention to when he’s on the floor.”
The staple of Bo Ryan-coached Wisconsin teams is defense, and the Badgers are again solid in that phase of the game in 2011-12. The team is leading the country in scoring defense, allowing 44.4 points per game, while ranking second in field goal percentage defense (.333) and third in 3-point field goal percentage (.241).
“It’s not anything tricky,” said McCaffery. “They have a system in place that each one of their players buys into. They really compete, help one another, and they’re big, strong and athletic. They stay after you.
“The biggest thing is on the glass. They seem to be the team that gets second shots and the other team doesn’t. When they’re getting second shots, they’re making 3s.”
“They were very good and learned a lot,” said McCaffery. “It was an intense, physical game, and they performed well. They didn’t panic and make a lot of mistakes. They did some good things and some things they recognize they can still do and still get better at.”
McCaffery is pleased with the news of the collaboration between the Big Ten and Pac-12 Conferences.
“I understand how it makes sense,” he said. “It’s probably a good thing. We’ll be doing some traveling and going to that part of the country. All-and-all, it’s a very positive thing.”
Saturday’s game is slated to begin at 12:01 p.m. (CT) inside the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. The game will be televised on the BTN with Eric Collins and Jim Jackson calling the action.