Hawkeyes look to rebound against Michigan


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If consistency served as last week’s lesson for the Iowa men’s basketball team, this week’s tutorial is to focus on finishing.

On Wednesday, the Hawkeyes seemed to be in control against a talented Ohio State squad, only to watch the No. 20 Buckeyes seize momentum late and escape Carver-Hawkeye Arena with a 65-57 win.

Now, Iowa (8-13, 2-6) finds itself in a similar position to that of a week ago. The Hawkeyes are looking to rebound from a midweek loss but are also traveling to a hostile environment.

Last week, it was a trip to Bloomington, Ind., where the Hawkeyes won their first Big Ten road game in two seasons. On Saturday, it will be a visit to Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich., for a 3:30 p.m. battle with Michigan (10-10, 3-5).

The opportunity for Iowa to capture another victory away from its home confines is there. But Michigan has knocked the Hawkeyes out of the last two Big Ten Tournaments.

After an enormous win over Connecticut on Jan. 17, the Wolverines enter the contest having lost three straight, including a devastating 57-56 loss in the final seconds against No. 5 Michigan State on Tuesday.

“We’ve proven we could be in it with any of the other teams in the conference,” junior Jarryd Cole said. “I think if we just get that killer instinct mentality. I think that we’ll be all right.”

Leading the way for Michigan are junior Manny Harris and senior DeShawn Sims. Harris averages 19 points per game, good for second in the conference, and Sims averages 17.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per contest.

When the Hawkeyes lost to the Wolverines in last year’s Big Ten tourney, this Michigan duo did the majority of the carnage. Sims and Harris combined for the same number of points (45) that Iowa scored as a whole.

If Wednesday’s loss to the Buckeyes was an indicator, keeping Harris in check will be the main challenge on Saturday, much like containing Ohio State’s Evan Turner was a must. Turner did very little against the Hawkeyes most of the night, then led a Buckeye charge late en route to finishing with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists.

The late-game collapse compelled Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter to remind his team about what assistant LaVall Jordan told them about keeping focus.

“When there are certain things going on, you can’t just play the game,” Lickliter said after the defeat on Wednesday. “You have to understand what is going on in the game, you have to attack and play with aggression, but it has to be calculated aggression.”

In order to notch a second-straight Big Ten road win, the Hawkeyes know what needs to be done, and they feel the loss to Ohio State provided a lesson.

“Coach [Lickliter] told us this a ton of times, ‘Don’t expect anybody to give it to you,’ ” freshman Eric May said. “They’re not going to just roll over and give you the win. You got to really earn it the whole game, and that showed us we have to stay solid and play to win from the first minute to the last minute.”

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