By MATTHEW WEITZEL
LAS VEGAS — The University of Iowa men’s basketball is out West this week for its first games of the 2019-20 season away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes arrived in Las Vegas Monday night, beginning a six-week stretch of eight of 10 games away from Iowa City.
Iowa (4-1) will play two contests this week at the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational, beginning Thanksgiving evening against No. 12 Texas Tech (5-0) at the Orleans Arena. San Diego State or Creighton will be Iowa’s Friday opponent.
Iowa landed Monday evening, and settled in at Caesars Palace and enjoyed some free time on the Las Vegas Strip.
The Hawkeyes used Tuesday morning to adjust their bodies to the two-hour time difference. The team had a focused practice Tuesday afternoon at a local high school gym to prepare for the Red Raiders.
Head coach Fran McCaffery has been impressed with Texas Tech on both ends of the floor.
“They play good defense,” said McCaffery. “They’re connected and physical. They also really move the ball on offense. They’re spacing is excellent and play with a great deal of confidence and unselfishness.”
Thursday’s game will be Iowa’s first of the season without redshirt sophomore Jack Nunge, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in its last outing Sunday against Cal Poly. McCaffery said after Tuesday’s practice that he expects senior guard Jordan Bohannon, who missed Sunday’s game with hip soreness, to play against the Red Raiders.
“I knew that if I was going to be playing back-to-back games here in Vegas that I needed to give my hip a rest last weekend,” Bohannon said after Tuesday’s practice.
Iowa enters Thursday’s game on a three-game win streak, scoring more than 80 points and owning a +10 rebounding margin or better in each of the three games.
Texas Tech won its first five games of the season by an average of 26.8 points per game. The Red Raiders also average 12.2 more rebounds than their opposition. McCaffery believes rebounding will be a key factor on Thursday.
“Rebounding will be of the utmost importance in this game,” McCaffery said. “They are an excellent rebounding team for a team that plays a lot of guards. They attack the glass hard at both ends.”
Thursday will be the first time since 2004, and sixth time overall, that Iowa and Texas Tech will meet on the hardwood. The Hawkeyes have won four of the previous five meetings, including the 2004 contest played in Chicago.
Thursday’s game will start at 7 p.m. (CT) and will be televised nationally on FS1 with Jeff Levering and Casey Jacobsen on the call. Fans in Las Vegas who would like to watch the Hawkeyes in person can purchase tickets at Ticketmaster.com or at the Orleans Arena Box Office.