Nov. 26, 2012
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — To post its first ACC/Big Ten Challenge victory in seven years, the University of Iowa men’s basketball team will need to defend a high-flying Virginia Tech duo Tuesday night in Blacksburg.
The Hokies have two players — guard Erick Green and forward Jarell Eddie — averaging more than 18 points per game. Green leads the team with 24.4 points, 5.2 assists and two steals per game, while Eddie averages 18.8 points and 6.6 rebounds.
“Green and Eddie are terrific players,” UI head coach Fran McCaffery said Monday on a media teleconference. “They’re multi-dimensional; starting with the fact they both makes shots. They really create a lot of problems for any team that’s trying to scheme how to guard them. They’re two guys, but they have other players that can play as well.”
The Hokies bring a 5-0 record into Tuesday’s game — the program’s best start since the 1984-85 season. Four wins have come at home inside Cassell Coliseum.
“I have been really impressed with Virginia Tech,” said McCaffery. “They’re a terrific shooting team, and they have a number of guys that can make shots.”
“You want to see a team that is focused on the game plan, competes and does what we want to do. I want to see a team that doesn’t get caught up in the environment at all.”
UI head coach Fran McCaffery
McCaffery is looking for his Hawkeyes to be focused and execution-oriented against the Hokies in their first true road game of the season. Iowa played two neutral site contests in Cancun — beating Western Kentucky before falling 73-65 to Wichita State — after playing its first four games inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“You want to see a team that is focused on the game plan, competes and does what we want to do,” said McCaffery. “I want to see a team that doesn’t get caught up in the environment at all.”
McCaffery expects an up-tempo game against Virginia Tech. He says Iowa’s 3-point defense must continue to perform to defend a Hokies team making 9.4 3-point field goals per game and connecting at a 42.7 percent (47-of-110) clip.
“It (3-point defense) better be good against this team,” said McCaffery. “It is better than it was last year. Last year it wasn’t good at all… it was one of our greatest weaknesses. It has been better this year and this is a team that will challenge that particular aspect of our defense in a big way.”
Iowa has held its opponents to 25.4 percent (30-of-118) shooting from long range over six games. Last season, opponents connected at a 34.5 percent (244-of-707) rate over the course of the season.
Iowa is 2-9 all-time in the Challenge after falling to Clemson, 71-55, in Iowa City a year ago. The Hawkeyes did not take part in the event in 2003-04 and 2004-05, and Iowa lost its last road game in the Challenge on a last-second 3-pointer at Wake Forest in 2010.
The team’s last victory came against North Carolina State in 2005 — a note that goes unnoticed by McCaffery.
“I don’t look at history,” said McCaffery. “It is a challenge for our team. We’re a very young team, and it’s a challenge for our guys. I am trying to get better and play well.”
Tuesday’s game is set to begin at 6:17 p.m. (CT), and it will be televised on ESPNU with Tom Hart and Tim McCormick calling the action.