GAME NOTES: The 20th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes will try to bounce back from a tough home loss when they visit the Minnesota Golden Gophers for a Big Ten Conference clash at Williams Arena.
Iowa fell on its home floor this past Saturday, dropping a 79-74 decision to Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes had won back-to-back contests prior to that setback, but they are still in search of their 20th win of the season (19-7). In terms of the Big Ten standings, Iowa is currently fourth, a half-game back of Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes face Indiana next.
Minnesota was much less competitive in its last outing, as it was routed in a 64-46 final by Ohio State on Saturday. The loss was the second straight and sixth in the last eight outings for the Golden Gophers, who are 17-11, but just 6-9 against the rest of the Big Ten. They visit Michigan in their final road game of the season next.
When these teams met at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 19, Iowa was clearly the better squad, earning a 94-73 win over Minnesota, which still leads the all- time series, 96-85.
Roy Devyn Marble did all he could. scoring 21 points and passing out 11 assists, but in the end Iowa couldn't top Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes outshot the Badgers with regard to field goal percentage (.484 to .476), but they were doubled up in points from 3-point range (24-12).
Scoring has come rather easily for Iowa most nights, as the Hawkeyes lead the Big Ten in scoring (83.3 ppg), while shooting a solid 47 percent from the field. They also do a good job on defense, yielding 67.7 ppg on 39.1 percent shooting. Adding to the superlatives is the No. 3 national ranking in rebounding (42.6 ppg). Devyn Marble (16.6 ppg, 3.2 apg) is the leader on the roster, and one of only two players averaging in double figures. He has scored in double digits in 13 straight games, which is the longest streak of his career. Aaron White (12.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg) stands up as the second option.
Minnesota was clearly affected by the hostile environment at Value City Arena over the weekend. The Golden Gophers only connected on 35.4 percent of their total shots. They were also on the short end of a 35-25 difference on the boards and outscored by the Buckeyes in second-chance points, 17-6.
Andre Hollins (14.8 ppg) is Minnesota's counterpoint to Devyn Marble as the team's leading scorer. While he tallied a team-high 13 points against Ohio State, he only took four shots. Deandre Mathieu (11.6 ppg, 4.2 apg) lends support as a scorer, but is more important as a passer, ranking fourth in the Big Ten in assists. Austin Hollins (10.9 ppg) can also fill the basket. Elliott Eliason (5.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.2 bpg) doesn't produce much at the offensive end, but he does solid work on the boards and in protecting the rim, ranking third in the conference in both rebounds and blocks.
Minnesota has been a tough team to deal with at home, with 13 wins in 16 tries. The Hawkeyes have the firepower to deal with a hostile environment, but the Golden Gophers have more to play for.
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