Feb. 11, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Two Big Ten Conference men’s basketball teams that are trending upward meet Thursday night on Mediacom Court.
The University of Iowa has won two-straight games — a 72-54 win at Michigan and a 71-55 victory over No. 16/17 Maryland — to improve to 15-8 overall, 6-4 in Big Ten play.
After starting 0-5 in league action, Minnesota has won two straight and 4-of-6 since dropping a 77-75 game against Iowa on Jan. 13 in Minneapolis. The Gophers are 15-9 overall and 4-7 in league action.
“We got them one time and they’re going to be hungry to play us,” said junior center Adam Woodbury. “They have a good team and are playing better basketball than they were when we played them up there.
“They’re always a tough matchup for us with their speed and size. They’ll come with a great game plan, but we’ll be ready for them.”
Thursday’s game will tip-off at 6:06 p.m. (CT) inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The game will be televised on BTN with Dave Revsine and Jim Jackson on the call.
UI head coach Fran McCaffery sees guard Andre Hollins as the Gophers’ difference-maker. During the last six games, Hollins has been one of the conference’s best players, averaging 21.2 points, while shooting 54.4 percent from the floor and 55 percent from 3-point range.
“He’s playing as well as anybody in our league, maybe as well as anybody in the country since we last played them,” McCaffery said during a Wednesday news conference. “They have a lot of guys that can score and can make plays defensively and offensively.
“We’re going to get a great effort, and it’s going to be a different kind of game in the sense we’re going to have to deal with intense defensive effort.”
Not much went wrong for the Hawkeyes in their 16-point win over Maryland on Feb. 8 — Iowa’s fourth win over a ranked foe this season — but Iowa didn’t fare well against the Terrapins second-half pressure. The Hawkeyes turned the ball over 10 times in the second half and 19 times for the game.
“We didn’t handle (the pressure) well,” said McCaffery. “When you’re getting pressed, you have to execute your press offense. Minnesota is a team that turns you over in some respects, but they steal it from you. They get it and go and go score it.”
During the last two games, Iowa has been playing its best basketball of the season. The Hawkeyes shot 62.7 percent in a road win in Ann Arbor before one-upping themselves by shooting a season-high 64.3 percent in the victory over Maryland. It was the highest field goal percentage since 2004 and the first time the team has finished above 60 percent in consecutive Big Ten games since 1988.
McCaffery says the success stems from strong ball movement and making an effort to play inside-out.
“We need to play that way, and we need to understand we need to play that way,” he said. “We have to be able to get the ball inside near the rim, whether we shoot it from there or not, that softens up the defense and creates opportunities where if a guy is shooting a jumper, he’s going to be more open.
“We’ve got some guys that are shooting it well and with confidence. We’re getting the ball to those guys. We’re getting productivity from the point, wing, and post… that’s always a good thing.”
After missing Sunday’s game against Maryland because of illness, McCaffery says senior Josh Oglesby will be back and available Thursday.
Tickets remain for Thursday’s game and fans are encouraged to wear white clothing for the “Whiteout.”