No Surprises in Happy Valley

Feb. 14, 2012

IOWA CITY, Iowa — It has been a mere 12 days since the University of Iowa men’s basketball team downed Penn State, 77-64, inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes now get a chance at a Nittany Lion sweep Thursday night in Happy Valley.

“We’re looking for the same result as the first game,” said freshman Aaron White. “We want to win and come out strong on both the defensive and offensive end. We need to play like those two games before Northwestern.”

Prior to Iowa’s 83-64 setback at Northwestern on Feb. 9, the Hawkeyes were riding a two-game winning streak. Iowa downed Minnesota, 63-59, on Feb. 1 before following it up with the 13-point triumph over the Nittany Lions.

While Penn State enters the game with an 11-15 overall record and a 3-10 mark in Big Ten play, UI head coach Fran McCaffery says the team’s effort has not waned. All three of the Nittany Lions’ conference victories have come inside the Bryce Jordan Center, including a 67-51 win over Nebraska on Feb. 11.

“The thing about Penn State that’s been impressive to me is how hard they continued to compete night-in-and-night-out and how well they play at home,” said McCaffery during Tuesday’s press conference. “They shoot it better and defend well. Pat’s (Chambers) got them playing really hard.”

The Hawkeyes jumped on Penn State early in the first match-up, scoring 16-of-18 points to start the game and leading by as many as 26 points in the second half. McCaffery said it was the team’s defense that was the key to the quick start.

“The reason we got the lead was we played defense and we rebounded,” he said. “We are going to have to play at that same level of intensity at the defensive end of the glass.

“You’ve got to defend them because they are not going to quit. At some point, they are going to get going. They did it against us; they did it against Michigan State. They have got some guys that can score other than Tim Frazier.”

Frazier is “Mr. Everything” for the Nittany Lions. He leads the team in scoring (18.5), rebounding (five), assists (6.4) and steals (2.2). Jermaine Marshall is the only other Penn State player in double digits at 10.4 points per contest.

“We have to do a good job on him,” said McCaffery on Frazier. “He’s a first team all-league player; we have to make sure he doesn’t get away from us.”

“We know their main key is Tim Frazier,” said sophomore Melsahn Basabe. “We have figured out the format to beat them. When we go out there, we know what we have to do to get it done. There’s only one way to play them, and that’s to play them tough.

“We have to make sure to win the battle of the boards, execute offensively and play hard because those guys are definitely going to play hard. It’s an advantage to us that we know what it takes to win; we need to duplicate the performance we had.”

Thursday’s game will be televised on ESPNU with Jim Barbar and Tim McCormick calling the action. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m. (CT).