By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Thursday resumes one of the most intense out-of-conference rivalry games in college basketball.
The Hawkeyes host 25th-ranked Iowa State in an Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series matchup at 7 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Approximately 2,000 tickets remain for the rivalry showdown through the Iowa Athletics Ticket Office.
“This is a rivalry that is played once a year that means a lot to a lot of people,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery during a Wednesday teleconference. “It means a lot for both teams for RPI, national rankings, and NCAA Tournament potential. It has a lot of importance.”
The home team in the Iowa-Iowa State matchup has won nine of the last 11 games in the series with the Cyclones prevailing in Iowa City in 2010 and 2015. Iowa leads the all-time series, 43-26.
Iowa State brings a 6-2 overall record into its first true road game of the season. The Cyclones have four starters averaging in double figures with senior guard Monte Morris leading the team with a 14.8 average.
Deonte Burton (14.1), Naz Mitrou-Long (12.8), and Matt Thomas (11.3) all average in double figures for an Iowa State team that averages 84.8 points per game. The Hawkeyes pour in 86.7 points per game and have eclipsed the 90-point mark in five contests.
McCaffery says Iowa’s State’s Morris will be the most complete guard his team will have faced to date.
“He has a good sense of when to go and when to not go,” said McCaffery. “His ability to score, push it, defend, make plays and make plays late, go off the dribble, be a distributer and facilitator, and then be a scorer and driver… that has been impressive to me.”
The Hawkeyes had an injury scare in Monday night’s 95-68 victory over Stetson when sophomore forward Ahmad Wagner fell awkwardly and hyper-extended his right knee early in the second half. He didn’t return against the Hatters, but McCaffery says Wagner will be available against Iowa State.
McCaffery also provided health updates on freshman Tyler Cook and senior Dale Jones. Both players are progressing from their injuries on schedule; Cook is estimated to be two weeks out from his return, while Jones is on a three-week timetable.
Thursday night’s game will be televised on ESPN2 with a 7:01 p.m. (CT) start. Jason Benetti and former Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun will be on the call.