Jan. 13, 2012
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — In the Big Ten Conference, it’s another day, another battle. That is what the Hawkeyes (10-8, 2-3) face when No. 13 Michigan (14-3, 4-1) comes to town tomorrow.
The Wolverines, winners of nine of their last 10, are one of four conference teams ranked in the top 13, joining No. 5 Ohio State, No. 6 Michigan State and No. 7 Indiana.
After two straight impressive road wins at then-No. 11 Wisconsin and Minnesota, the Hawkeyes have lost to two of the four highly ranked Big Ten teams (Ohio State, Michigan State) and face the fourth at noon Saturday inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“They’re fighting,” said head coach Fran McCaffery, who will be coaching his 50th game for Iowa Saturday. “They’re learning game by game. Obviously, we had two really good wins. We had a tough loss at home. We got drilled twice by two really good teams. That’s upsetting, but it’s part of the process. You’ve got to go through it. Those teams are phenomenally talented, and we didn’t do what we needed to do.
“So, again, you look at our schedule and you figure you’ve got what, four or five ranked teams out of the last five games we’ve played? That’s pretty impressive. So we’ve got another chance. We’ve got another chance to play against a team that is ranked, and play better, and focus harder.”
Four of Iowa’s first six Big Ten games are against ranked opponents. Tomorrow presents another opportunity; another chance to win a big game in the Big Ten.
“That is just the Big Ten,” said freshman Aaron White. “You cannot ask for much more. You are playing the best teams, the best players in the country. You are getting a good test every night, playing against NBA players, lottery picks.
“It is a good experience. We are a young team, but it is good for learning for next year and for future games. We have to bring it every night. We are seeing what these teams do and we can turn into a team like that, that other people are scared to play.”
“That is life in the Big Ten,” said senior Matt Gatens. “No nights off. You are going to get a ranked opponent about every week. It is a great opportunity to make some noise and beat another ranked team on our home court.”
Gatens and White are leading the team in Big Ten play with 10.6 scoring averages, and sophomore Roy Devyn Marble ranks third (10.0).
“That is what you want as a college basketball player, to play ranked teams every night,” said Marble. “That is something people dream of. We have to come out and make the best of our opportunities.”
The last two games played in Carver-Hawkeye Arena between the Hawkeyes and Wolverines have gone to overtime. Both teams traded double-digit comebacks before last year’s contest in Iowa City went to the extra period.
The Hawkeyes are hoping for another good crowd tomorrow inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “I think we will have another good crowd against Michigan, and we will be ready for it,” said White. “We will play the game that we expect.”
“It is great having the fans, it was a great crowd last weekend,” said Gatens. “We felt bad we didn’t perform to the best of our ability. It would be great to have a full house in here rocking and knock off a ranked opponent.”
Fans interested in purchasing tickets can call the UI Ticket Office (1-800-IA-HAWKS) or visit hawkeyesports.com. The game can be seen on BTN.