Feb. 9, 2016
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- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — A track meet is in store when the No. 4/5 University of Iowa men’s basketball team squares off against No. 22 Indiana on Thursday at Assembly Hall.
The Hoosiers are the top scoring team in the Big Ten Conference, averaging 84.1 points; Iowa is second at 80.7 points per contest. In Big Ten play, Iowa is No. 1 at 78.5 points; Indiana is second at 78.2.
No matter how you slice it, points are going to scored in a hurry in Bloomington, Indiana.
“It’s going to be very up-tempo,” said UI senior guard Mike Gesell, who enters Thursday’s game two points shy of reaching the 1,000 career point milestone. “That’s how we want to play, and they want to play that way, too. It should be a fun game to watch.”
The Hoosiers have one of the most dynamic players in the country in Yogi Ferrell. The guard leads the team with a 17.3 scoring average, shooting 47.4 percent from the floor and 45.6 percent from 3-point.
“Yogi is as tough a cover as there is out there,” UI head coach Fran McCaffery said during a Tuesday news conference at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “He comes at you 100 miles per hour and pulls up, shoots the 3 in your face, or goes by you. He’s equally gifted at scoring the ball or finding other people.”
Ferrell is fourth in the Big Ten, averaging 5.8 assists per game.
“He can get going in a hurry, so you have to be locked in the entire game,” said Gesell. “If you’re not pressuring him, he’s loading other guys up. He’s an unselfish player, who plays the game the right way.
“It’s going to be similar in going against a guy like (Maryland’s Melo) Trimble, where he’s key to their team.”
Ferrell isn’t the only show in town for the Hoosiers. Swing man Troy Williams averages 12.8 points and is in constant attack mode and Thomas Bryant averages 12.1 points on 72.4 percent shooting. Indiana is shooting 51.1 percent from the field as a team.
“They move the ball well,” said McCaffery. “They run, attack, and get layups. If you’re shooting those numbers, you’re getting layups, but they’re also a good 3-point shooting team. They have a lot of weapons so they’re a hard team to guard.”
In a scheduling oddity, Iowa is playing its fourth straight game against Indiana in Assembly Hall. The Hawkeyes have split the last six meetings at the venue, including a 77-63 win last March.
“It’s a new year and new game, so I don’t think we take a whole lot from (last year’s win),” said senior Adam Woodbury. “But being able to come out with a win there showed something. We’re looking to make it two in a row.”
Thursday’s game has implications in the Big Ten regular season title chase. The Hawkeyes are atop the league standings with a 10-1 record. It is the latest the program has been in first place this deep in the season since Feb. 23, 2006.
Indiana is 19-5 overall and 9-2 in league action, tied with Maryland for second in the standings.
“I’m not even thinking about the (Big Ten title) now,” said McCaffery. “I’m thinking about trying to win Thursday night.”
The top 25 matchup will be televised by ESPN beginning at 8:05 p.m. (CT). Rece Davis, Dick Vitale, and Kaylee Hartung will be on the call.