GAME NOTES: The 20th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes will try to avoid a three-game losing streak on Thursday night when they travel to Bloomington for a Big Ten Conference matchup with the Indiana Hoosiers at Assembly Hall.
Iowa has dropped back-to-back games for the first time all season, losing at home to nationally-ranked Wisconsin last Saturday (79-74) before suffering a 95-89 road setback to Minnesota on Tuesday night. The Hawkeyes are still an impressive 19-8 overall this season and 8-6 in Big Ten action.
Indiana has been a disappointment by its lofty standards on the campaign, as it has gone just 15-12 overall and has fallen flat in league play with just a 5-9 mark. The Hoosiers most recently went on the road and lost to Wisconsin on Tuesday, 69-58, but now they return home to Assembly Hall, where they've won 12-of-15.
The Hoosiers lead the all-time series with Iowa, 97-74, which includes a win in the only meeting last season, 73-60 in Bloomington on March 2, 2013.
The Hawkeyes fell behind Minnesota by 13 points with under eight minutes to play in their contest earlier in the week, and while they were able to cut their deficit to just two with 1:30 left, they would get no closer. Although their offensive performance was impressive, shooting 48.4 percent from the field (including 10-of-25 from 3-point range), they couldn't keep pace with the red- hot Golden Gophers (.612). Roy Devyn Marble paced the losing effort with 24 points and six assists, while Aaron White was stellar in the paint with 21 points and nine rebounds. Josh Oglesby and Mike Gesell finished with 16 and 13 points, respectively.
Iowa has put up big point totals with regularity this season, as it ranks first in the Big Ten and seventh in the nation in scoring at 83.5 ppg, while shooting 47.1 percent from the field and 73.1 percent from the free-throw line. The squad also plays stellar defense (68.7 ppg), giving it the country's fourth-best scoring margin (+14.8). Marble has been the catalyst with 16.9 ppg, while White (13.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg) has been incredibly efficient from both the floor (.594) and the stripe (.827). While no one else scores in double figures on a nightly basis, eight others net at least 4.5 ppg to add to the balanced attack.
The Hoosiers appeared to have the upper hand over Wisconsin early in their latest tilt, as they led by 10 at intermission, but the Badgers began the second stanza on a 25-10 run and pulled away for the double-digit win from there. Indiana finished with a better field goal percentage (.421) than Wisconsin (.417), but it was outscored at the foul line, 22-2, and lost the turnover battle, 10-3. Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell knocked down 5-of-10 from 3-point range on his way to 24 points, while Noah Vonleh tallied 18 points and six rebounds.
Despite its underwhelming season, Indiana still performs well on both ends of the floor, shooting 44.6 percent from the field for 72.3 ppg while allowing just 66.4 ppg on 40.5 percent shooting, and while its rebounding margin (+9.1) is one of the best in the country, it also gives away several possessions per game with a -2.6 turnover margin. Ferrell puts up 17.9 ppg and 3.7 apg, while draining more than half the squad's 3-pointers (76-of-180, .422). Vonleh is an anchor in the paint with 11.9 ppg, 9.3 rpg and 1.3 bpg, while Will Sheehey brings 10.1 ppg to the table.
Iowa has been reeling of late and has been rather pedestrian on the road this season (4-4), and while Indiana hasn't exactly wowed of late, it has been consistently strong on its home floor and will have a strong chance at an upset in this one.
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