Hawkeyes host Virginia Tech tonight


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During the last 15 minutes of Iowa’s 17-point loss against Wichita State on Nov. 24, the Iowa men’s basketball team only mustered 15 points. After the game, head coach Todd Lickliter cited poor shooting and inopportune turnovers as reasons for his team’s 15-minute lapse on the court.

Starting 2-4 overall, the 2009-10 season has been full of lapses, but none more prominent — and consistent — than the Hawkeyes’ lack of shooting touch beyond the 3-point line.

For the year, Lickliter’s squad is 41-of-154 (27 percent) from long distance, including a 3-for-20 output against North Carolina Central on Nov. 28.

Tonight, Iowa’s 3-point shooters will again be tested — this time, by a wiry Virginia Tech backcourt.

Only a week after playing Texas and Wichita State on back-to-back nights, the Hawkeyes (2-4) will host Seth Greenberg’s Hokies (4-1) in Carver-Hawkeye Arena as a part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge beginning at 8:35 p.m.

“It’s another part of this schedule that’s very demanding,” Lickliter said.

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Virginia Tech, which has defended the 3-pointer well this year (opponents are 21-of-71, 29.5 percent), brings a defense that is only giving up 58 points per game.

The Hawkeyes’ reliance on the triple — nearly half of their 314 shots have come from outside the arc — has led to a scoring slump. In fact, the North Carolina Central game was the first contest all year in which Lickliter’s team scored more than 70 points.

“It is kind of baffling,” the third-year head coach said. “But what are we going to do?”
Freshman Eric May said, “We’ve got to continue [shooting]. The shots are going to come. I’m not worried about that.”

The Hawks may have found a solution to their scoring woes in junior forward Jarryd Cole.

Putting up a career-high 24 points and making 10-of-13 shots against North Carolina Central, Cole consistently capitalized on his increased number of touches in the paint. The Kansas City native’s 13 shots on Nov. 28 were equal to his shooting output from the three prior games.

“I think our offense is growing,” Lickliter said. “As you saw the other night, we’re more in tune to throwing it inside. That doesn’t mean we’re going to live on that, but we’re starting to get some really good balance.”

On Monday, the third-year head coach emphasized the importance of his team maintaining its defensive intensity while trying to overcome the current shooting slump.

That’s especially crucial tonight, when one of the premier scorers in the ACC, junior Malcolm Delaney, comes to town. The 6-3 guard has scored 56 points in his last two games; he is averaging 21.8 points per game.

When asked about Delaney, Lickliter’s reaction was simply, “Oh, my.”

Students get in free tonight

All UI students get into tonight’s game free of charge. Tickets can be picked up at the IMU Box Office or at the ticket windows at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Students can also present their student IDs at the South or West entrances of the arena tonight to gain admission to the game.

An average of 8,468 fans have attended Iowa’s four home games. A small fraction of that number is students.

“We could definitely use them because it’s a great arena when it’s filled with people screaming and yelling,” sophomore Matt Gatens said. “It’s a great environment, and hopefully, we can get that back.”

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