Hawks face No. 13 Wisconsin at home


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Iowa is in the midst of its first Big Ten winning streak since 2007. Now, No. 13 Wisconsin comes to Carver-Hawkeye Arena after the Hawkeyes have played arguably their best two games of the season.

They’ll likely need a new “best game” to defeat the Badgers (17-5, 7-3).

The Hawkeyes (10-13, 3-8) will have to stop a varied offense from the conference’s third-place team, featuring an All-Big Ten point guard in junior Jordan Taylor and two athletic big men in seniors Jon Leuer and Keaton Nankivil.

Taylor is known nationally not only for his Kid ’n’ Play-esque haircut but also for his quickness and timely shooting. Taylor is also just days removed from the best game of his career. The Bloomington, Minn., native scored 30 points in Wisconsin’s 82-56 thrashing of Michigan State on Sunday.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery has taken note of all that Taylor could do to slice through the Hawkeye defense.

“He is really kind of an amazing player when you watch him,” McCaffery said. “He’s so strong, and he has an uncanny ability to make shots late in the clock.”

Leuer and Nankivil especially can key a Wisconsin victory because of their ability to shoot the 3.
That might surprise some, given that they are 6-10 and 6-8, respectively.

Both stars are shooting better than 44 percent from the distance, and both average at least four and a half rebounds a game.

Hawkeye senior center Jarryd Cole, who will be tasked with guarding one of the two, said their list of abilities is endless.

“They can both step out, shoot the 3-pointer, they can drive to the paint, they have decent ball-handling skills, they can shoot mid-range jumpers,” he said.

The other Hawkeye who will spend much of his time defensively against the versatile towers is freshman Melsahn Basabe.

But the first-year player is more concerned about maintaining his offensive production in tonight’s game.

Coming off of a 20-point, 13-rebound performance, Basabe’s only real sign of being a freshman is his typical inability to put together back-to-back commanding performances.

While he says that achieving that rests on him, he also refused to say it was any team’s defense that can slow him down. He pointed to arguably his best game yet against now-No. 1 Ohio State on Jan. 4. Basabe tallied 22 points and 13 rebounds in Iowa’s near-upset.

“I plan on [tonight] being the first time I’ve had back-to-back big-time games,” Basabe said. “I’ve done it against the No. 1 team in the nation, so I should be able to do it against Wisconsin.”

Plainly put, this could be another “best win” for the Iowa program — if all the roles are played to perfection.

First it was Michigan State at home, and then a tough road win at Indiana.

Now, it could be a home victory against a highly ranked squad.

“So that is the great thing about this [conference] is there’s always a great opportunity for everybody to make a move,” McCaffery said. “And we are makinga move.”

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