GAME NOTES: Having recently had a three-game win streak halted, the 10th- ranked Iowa Hawkeyes will play their second straight road tilt as they visit the Northwestern Wildcats for a Big Ten Conference tussle on Saturday.
Iowa dropped a 75-67 decision at Michigan on Wednesday night, the loss being the team's fourth overall, second in conference, and third in true road games this season. Following this contest, the Hawkeyes will return home to tangle with first-place Michigan State on Tuesday, and will face formidable foes in their next four outings as also looming are Illinois, Ohio State and Michigan.
After a rough start to conference play, Northwestern has seemingly turned a corner by posting two straight wins and victories in three of their last four bouts overall. The Wildcats' last two triumphs came against Hoosier State foes Indiana (54-47) and Purdue (63-60, 2OT). NU is an even 10-10 on the season, and has inched closer to the break-even point in Big Ten play (3-4). The 'Cats have performed well at home to this point, going 8-4.
Iowa owns a commanding 112-57 lead in the all-time series with Northwestern, and the Hawkeyes have won the last four meetings, including a 93-67 rout of the Wildcats in Iowa City on Jan. 9.
Aaron White and Melsahn Basabe scored 17 points apiece and combined for 13 rebounds, but their efforts went for naught as Iowa fell at Michigan earlier this week. Roy Devyn Marble tacked on 13 points for the Hawkeyes, who shot 47.2 percent from the field, but missed the mark on eight of their 10 3-point tries. Meanwhile, Michigan nailed eight treys and was an efficient 81.3 percent from the free-throw line.
Marble continues to pace the club in scoring with his 16.2 ppg, while also doing his best to keep his teammates involved by handing out 3.2 apg. White is the unit's only other double-digit scorer at the moment, as he nets 14.2 ppg to go with 6.5 rpg. As a team, Iowa lights up the scoreboard to the tune of 85.7 ppg, one of the highest figures in the nation, in draining 47.6 percent of its total shots, which includes a 37.6 percent showing from beyond the arc. Conversely, opponents are permitted just 67.0 ppg in hitting 37.7 percent of their field goal attempts, and only 28.3 percent of their 3-point tries. Iowa is also +9.2 in rebounding margin (among the national leaders), and +2.1 in turnover differential.
Drew Crawford and Tre Demps scored 19 points apiece to lead Northwestern to its recent double-overtime win over visiting Purdue, as both teams put forth lackluster shooting efforts. The Wildcats, who also got 15 points from JerShon Cobbs, made good on just 35.5 percent of their total shots, while the Boilermakers were successful only 27.6 percent of the time. NU missed a staggering 20 of its 24 3-point attempts, but used a 22-12 edge in points in the paint as well as the fact that PU committed 14 turnovers to help aid in the victory.
Crawford (15.3 ppg), Cobb (11.5 ppg) and Demps (10.8 ppg) are all averaging in double figures for a team that puts up just 62 ppg in hitting a mere 39.5 percent of its field goal attempts, which includes a 29.8 percent showing from beyond the arc. Fortunately, the Wildcats have performed well on defense, limiting the opposition to 63.5 ppg, which is the second-best yield in the conference, behind typical shooting efforts of .402 overall and .303 from distance. They are routinely beaten on the boards, suffering a -2.4 rebounding margin (last in the Big Ten).
As well as the Wildcats have been playing of late, they will need to put forth another stifling defensive effort if they are to have any shot at pulling off the upset of the Hawkeyes, who despite playing on the road should be able to get back on track with a hard-fought win.
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