Ultimate Effort Needed Against Spartans

Jan. 7, 2015

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa head men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery says it will take ultimate effort for the Hawkeyes to defeat Michigan State on Thursday night inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.


“(Michigan State) isn’t a team you’re going to get down by seven, you look up and they’re down 25,” McCaffery said during a Wednesday news conference. “That’s not who they are. If you get them down seven, you hope to at least keep the lead because they’re going to keep coming.

“When you’re a coach, that’s all you can ever ask. You can’t expect perfection all the time, but you can expect ultimate effort. Anything short of that, (you’ll) have a hard time beating them.”

The recent series with Michigan State has been one-sided with the Spartans winning 13 of the last 14 meetings, including the last eight contests. Three of the last four games have been decided by three or less points, including a 71-69 loss in overtime on Jan. 28, 2014, in Iowa City.

“They’ve been intense, hard-fought games,” said McCaffery. “We’ve had leads, and we didn’t close them out.

“What you do is respect your opponent and try to figure out what we can do different offensively, on defense, should we run different kinds of plays, play different guys? You keep working at it, you don’t belabor it.”

Michigan State brings a 10-5 overall and 1-1 Big Ten record into Thursday after handling Indiana, 70-50, on Jan. 5, in East Lansing, Michigan. The Spartans held the Hoosiers to 28.3 percent shooting and were plus-22 on the glass.

It’s the type of defensive effort that has become the norm for Michigan State this season. The Spartans are leading the Big Ten in field goal defense, 3-point field goal defense, and rebounding margin.

“I see a consistent defensive team with a focus and determination that has been their staple,” said McCaffery. “It is what has made them special over the years. (That was) never more evident than the Indiana game… that was impressive. The defense that night was intense.”

Offensively, four Spartans are averaging in double figures. Forward Denzel Valentine leads the team at 13.8 points, Travis Trice averages 13.3, Branden Dawson 10.9, and Bryn Forbes 10 points. Valentine and Forbes were high school teammates of Iowa junior Anthony Clemmons.

Since making the switch, moving sophomore Peter Jok into the starting lineup in place of Clemmons at the shooting guard position, McCaffery sees the move working out great for both players.

“Anthony was really good against Ohio State and Nebraska as a point guard,” said McCaffery. “Mike (Gesell) is terrific, but Mike is going to get tired at the pace he plays and with people coming after him.

“You put another junior in for a junior (Clemmons in for Gesell), you don’t lose anything in terms of experience, steady play.”

Thursday’s game is set to tip off at 6:05 p.m. (CT), and it will be televised live on ESPN with Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas, and Seth Greenberg on the call. The contest is approaching sellout status as approximately 400 tickets remain through the Iowa Ticket Office.

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