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Hawkeyes hit road again

BY BRENDAN STILES | FEBRUARY 05, 2010 7:30 AM

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This year’s Big Ten schedule has provided plenty of quirks for the Iowa men’s basketball team.

The Hawkeyes have already played six of their 10 conference home games, four of them over semester break. In a span of 12 days, Iowa found itself playing Big Ten leader Michigan State twice.

And now, the Hawkeyes are going to have another 12-day stretch of seeing a ranked opponent twice when they play at No. 13 Ohio State on Super Bowl Sunday. This will also be the third-consecutive weekend with road trips in conference play for Iowa.

The two teams met in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 27, and the Buckeyes seized control of a game dominated by Iowa for the first 37 minutes, leaving Iowa City with a 65-57 win.

“We had a chance to win the game,” sophomore Matt Gatens said. “It was a great game we played and just too bad we couldn’t get over the top.”

Since that contest, Ohio State has had the luxury of playing its last two games inside Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio, dominating the likes of Minnesota and Penn State to the tune of two-straight double-digit victories. The Buckeyes are also tied for second in the Big Ten, and they possess a 7-3 conference mark to go with their 17-6 overall record.

While Ohio State has won three straight dating back to its victory at Iowa, the Hawkeyes have lost three straight. The most recent defeat came at the hands of Illinois on Wednesday, 57-49. The loss put Iowa at 8-15 overall with a 2-8 Big Ten record.

Although Iowa had a defensive effort that left head coach Todd Lickliter somewhat content, shooting an abysmal 16-of-54 from the field against the Fighting Illini ultimately hurt the Hawkeyes.

And what frustrated Lickliter the most after the loss were plays that he said not even the best NBA players are able to make.

“We’re trying to make some plays that just aren’t there, that are so low-percentage,” Lickliter said. “We just don’t have that kind of margin for error. But we did more good than bad, and hopefully, we can fight and compete, and eventually make some winning plays when it comes time.”

Once again, the one Buckeye player Iowa will have to contain is junior Evan Turner, whom Iowa kept in check for the majority of the teams’ previous meeting. He finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists.

Given the familiarity the Hawkeyes have with the Buckeyes nine days ago, the players find that the game plan against Ohio State the last time around hasn’t been completely lost.

“Playing them already helps us,” freshman Cully Payne said. “We don’t have to prepare as much and go over all their stuff. We’re kind of fresh with what they do and their personnel.”


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