Feb. 17, 2015
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — There is a sense of urgency within the University of Iowa men’s basketball team heading into Thursday’s Big Ten Conference tilt against Rutgers.
“With six games left there is a sense of urgency with every game,” said senior Aaron White. “You don’t like to look ahead, but six games and where we are at, every game is big and every one matters.”
Two weeks ago, the Hawkeyes were flying high following a road win at Michigan and a trouncing of No. 16 Maryland that moved Iowa into second place in the Big Ten standings.
Iowa followed with a week it doesn’t want to remember, falling at home to Minnesota before losing at Northwestern to give the Wildcats their first win of 2015.
“I don’t want to overreact and have this negative cloud,” said White. “We just had this great week, beat Maryland and Michigan on the road, then we had a bad week. There is no need to get super negative (after the bad week) just like there wasn’t a reason to be super positive after a great week.
“We want to keep that even keel and not overreact one way or the other.”
The Hawkeyes (15-10, 6-6) have three home and three away games remaining in the regular season beginning Thursday against Rutgers (10-16, 2-11) on Mediacom Court beginning at 7 p.m. (CT).
The Scarlet Knights have lost nine-straight games since beating No. 4 Wisconsin (67-62) at home on Jan. 11. Rutgers is winless on the road in league play, but 10 of its 13 conference games have been decided by 10 points or less, including four of its last five.
“This team presents a lot of challenges,” UI head coach Fran McCaffery said during a Wednesday news conference in the Press Room of Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “It starts with (Myles) Mack and Kadeem Jack.”
Mack, a 5-foot-9 guard, leads the Scarlet Knights in scoring (14 points) and assists (4.3), while Jack, a 6-9 forward, averages 13.3 points and 6.3 rebounds, while shooting 43 percent from the floor.
“Mack is an interesting player,” said McCaffery . “He’s a hard cover 1-on-1, and they are going to set ball screens for him so he’ll have space. He can really score, he has 3-point range, and he can drive it, dump it, and create for others.”
Rutgers is a strong offensive rebounding team, pulling in 11 per game to rank sixth in the Big Ten, which could put a halt on getting the Hawkeyes’ transition game on track.
“That’s problematic,” said McCaffery of the Scarlett Knights’ rebounding propensity. “I think you have to stay in and block them out, get the ball and then run. We’ll keep trying to emphasize running and pushing it.”
Iowa leads the all-time series over Rutgers, 1-0. Thursday’s game will be the Scarlet Knight’s first-ever game in Iowa City.
Thursday’s game will be televised on ESPNU with Adam Amin and Craig Robinson on the call. Tickets remain by contacting the UI Athletics Ticket Office at 800-IA-HAWKS or visiting www.hawkeyesports.com.