Men’s basketball to host Texas-San Antonio


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Hosting Texas-San Antonio for the second-consecutive year, Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter’s men’s basketball team will officially tip off its season at 5:05 p.m. Nov. 15.

The Hawkeyes participated in an exhibition game against Marian University on Sunday, winning 76-53 behind 21 points from sophomore guard Anthony Tucker and 15 rebounds from sophomore forward Aaron Fuller.

“[The exhibition game] last Sunday was a good step for us,” sophomore guard Matt Gatens said. “I’m looking forward to Sunday, when it’s really going to count, and we can start building this record.”

Last season, however, the Hawkeyes struggled against Texas-San Antonio. While they escaped with a 73-67 victory, they only held a two-point lead with 33 seconds remaining. It was a game the Roadrunners were able to keep close despite shooting only 44 percent from the field.

Specifically, Texas-San Antonio’s press aggravated Iowa’s backcourt in last year’s contest, forcing 19 turnovers.

True freshman point guard Cully Payne started the team’s exhibition game and distributed six assists on Iowa’s first 10 baskets. Lickliter listed the Schaumburg, Ill., native as the probable starter for the Nov. 15 game in Wednesday’s press release.

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Tucker, who is still dealing with a nagging back injury, will also play the point against the Roadrunners.

“I’m expecting them to press us a lot,” he said. “We really struggled with it last year, especially in the second half. I’m assuming that they’re going to come out and try to pressure us early. As long as we take care of the ball, I think we’ll be fine.”

Perhaps more concerning to Lickliter than Texas-San Antonio’s press is the fact that the Roadrunners return four of the five starters from last year’s narrow defeat. Senior Omar Johnson, who had a team-high 18 points and three of the team’s nine 3-pointers in the 2008 game, will present a tough matchup for Payne and Company in the backcourt.

Also, the two backcourts in last year’s contest attempted 39 combined 3-pointers, making 14 of them. Lickliter’s “any-3-pointer-is-a-good-shot” philosophy hasn’t changed since last season, especially with the combination of Tucker, Gatens, and freshman Eric May in the backcourt.

Sunday’s game is the start of a brutal stretch for the Hawkeyes, in which they’ll play five contests in 10 days — one against No. 3 Texas in Kansas City.

“One of the things about it is that you have to be able to learn while competing,” Lickliter said. “It’s really a good schedule. … Now, you mix in there San Antonio — which has four out of five starters back, who won 19 games last year — [that’s a] very good opponent.”

Season-ticket prices

Over the last two years, as the Hawkeyes have gone 28-36 Carver, their support in the stands has dwindled.

Iowa is averaging only 10,811 fans over that time period, and the closest thing to a sellout last year was when 14,665 fans showed up for the Purdue game on Valentine’s Day.

Season tickets for 2009-10 can be purchased as late as Sunday night before the opener for the following prices: $80 for UI students, $238 for UI faculty and staff, and $278 for the general public.

The Hawkeyes have 18 home games on the slate this year.

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