After starting the season 7-0, the Iowa Hawkeyes basketball team have lost their last two games to arguably the best two teams they have played so far. It won’t be easier to capture that losing streak when they travel to the Hilton Coliseum to take on the undefeated No.17 Iowa State Cyclones.
“We have to perform a little better against teams like we’ve played the last two games,” said coach Fran McCaffery. “We haven’t done it in the last two games. We face another ranked, undefeated team on the road. This is another great opportunity.
The Cyclones were a bit of a surprise to start the season. They were picked to finish last in the Big 12 preseason poll. They are 8-0 so far, with wins over No.9 Memphis and No.25 Xavier.
Their early season success has a lot to do with their defensive play, as they allow only 60.1 points per game. This ranks 39th in the country.
“They’ve really embraced the defensive concepts and they’re playing really well together on both sides,” said coach McCaffery. “They create an attack with their defense. They create an alchemy that is reflected on the offensive side and that is the result of what they do defensively.
On paper, it looks like a battle of something that has to give in in several ways.
First off, the Hawkeyes will put that strong defense to the test, as they enter this game with the fourth offense in the nation, with 90.1 points per game. Although they did so with the country’s top scorer, Keegan Murray, not quite 100 percent. He had 19 points and two rebounds in the 87-83 loss to Illinois on Monday.
“I think he was feeling pretty good,” said coach McCaffery. “It was important for him to really get started the way he did. He was trying in the first half, but he had a few shots on him, shots he normally does, which is not uncommon when you miss a game and haven’t practiced.
They also did so without a significant exit from main guard Jordan Bohannon. The sniper has only passed five points once in the last five games and only shoots 42%.
“He will always have the green light,” McCaffery said. “We have to do a better job of freeing him, finding opportunities for him to shoot. I don’t want to put it on him. I think we have to take it upon ourselves to shoot him and find openings for him. “
There is no better place for the super senior than Ames.
It’s also a clash featuring a team that forces the seventh most turnovers in the country (Iowa State) and a team that does the second (Iowa).
“We have smart kids,” Coach McCaffery said. “We have guys who can play. Often, turnovers are the result of selfishness. Guys are driving just because they want to shoot now. We don’t do that. We make good decisions. We respect each other. “
A win would be the Hawkeyes’ fourth consecutive victory at the Cy-Hawk. The game is scheduled to switch at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.