Jan. 28, 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.
By BRADY JOHNSON
IOWA CITY, Iowa — If the University of Iowa men’s basketball team is going to run its winning streak over Indiana to five games Sunday in Assembly Hall, it is going to take a stout defensive effort.
“It will (be the emphasis), but it’s always a fine line, because we got to go down there and score too,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “They are going to come after us, and it’s going to be an enthusiastic crowd.”
Iowa looks for its third victory this season against a team ranked within the top-20, but it will have to overcome the Big Ten’s leading offensive team to pull it off. The Hoosiers, ranked 16th nationally, lead the conference in scoring offense (78.4), field goal percentage (49.8 percent) and 3-point field goal percentage (44.7 percent).
Indiana has been fueled by the efforts of freshman Cody Zeller, one of only two players to have more Big Ten Freshman of the Week accolades than Iowa’s Aaron White. Zeller is 10th in the conference in scoring (14.7), fifth in rebounding (6.2) and second in field goal percentage (64.4 percent). While McCaffery is well aware of Indiana’s offensive prowess, he also credits their defense.
“They are a substantially better defensive team this year than they were last year, simply because you have got Zeller in the middle, but you’ve got long-arm guys that have been around now,” said McCaffery. “Instead of freshmen, sophomores, you’ve got sophomores and juniors and then you have the big fellas.”
Sophomore Zach McCabe may be the answer to break that defense for Iowa. McCabe has pieced together consecutive career games, scoring 20 points in games against both Purdue and Nebraska. The forward made 9-of-11 shots from the floor against the Huskers.
“What he’s doing is he’s mixing it up, he shoots 3s, drives the ball and has put backs,” said McCaffery. “He has versatility in his game, but I think confidence is another side. He’s very confident in himself right now.”
As Iowa’s tallest player, senior Devon Archie may too be called upon to help slow down the 6-foot-11 Zeller. Archie provided eight solid minutes against Nebraska with a strong defensive effort and a ferocious dunk that landed on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays.
Iowa’s Matt Gatens (13.2 points per game), Devyn Marble (11.3) and White (9.7) look to propel the Hawkeye offense, which is ranked fifth in the conference.
After going down by 10 points with seven minutes remaining in Iowa’s last meeting with the Hoosiers on Feb. 4, 2011, the Hawkeyes went on a furious rally, and Bryce Cartwright hit a crucial step back jumper with just over a minute left to lift Iowa to a 64-63 victory.
With the season winding down and teams jostling for seeding in the Big Ten Tournament, the Hawkeyes will be looking to strike magic once again in Assembly Hall and keep the streak alive.
Sunday’s game will be televised on the BTN beginning at 5 p.m. (CT). Eric Collins and Dan Bonner will call the action.