Road troubles plaguing Hawkeye men's basketball

BY TOM CLOS | MARCH 01, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s basketball team has been nearly unbeatable in the friendly confines of Carver-Hawkeye Arena this season. The Hawkeyes won their first nine games in Iowa City to open 2012 and are 14-2 at home this season.

When they hit the road, however, well, that’s a different tale.

The Hawkeyes have floundered when they’ve traveled into opposing teams’ arenas this season; the Black and Gold have a 2-7 record as the visiting team. Worse, Iowa has allowed 95 points on two separate occasions — at Virginia Tech and at Michigan.

But a closer inspection of the numbers suggests the Hawkeyes haven’t been that far from being respectable on the road. Iowa has been outscored by an average of only 72-67 in the nine games away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

So what’s been the problem?

“There’s a reason we’ve been in such close games in other buildings,” sophomore guard Josh Oglesby said. “On the road, you have just have to get some stops and eventually hope the offense comes around. This season, it hasn’t happened at times.”

Oglesby is referring to the Hawkeyes’ four heartbreaking losses at Purdue (65-62 in OT), at Minnesota (62-59) at Wisconsin (74-70 double OT) and at Nebraska (64-60). In all, five of the seven losses were by single figures.

The Black and Gold own Carver-Hawkeye Arena; they beat their opponents by an average score of 74-57. But they have to find a way to turn around their visiting fortunes in a hurry.

Once the regular season ends, the rest of the Hawkeyes’ games this season will more than likely be far away from cozy Iowa City.

“We have to carry [the home momentum] over onto the road. There’s nothing more gratifying than coming back with a win,” junior forward Melsahn Basabe said. “But in this conference, it’s never easy, so you just have to be ready.”

Hawkeyes face daunting task

Iowa will need to conjure up any of the good home vibes it can if it wishes to pull off a seemingly unthinkable upset at No. 1 Indiana on Saturday in Bloomington, Ind.

The top-ranked Hoosiers (24-4, 12-3 Big Ten) are atop the Big Ten standings and lead the conference in points per game (82.2), field goal percentage (49.7 percent), field goals made (767), 3-point percentage (42.6 percent) and free-throw percentage (74.8 percent).

Indiana has also made more free throws (551) than any other team in the country.

Simply put, the Hoosiers are one of the nation’s best.

The Hawkeyes (18-10, 7-8) will once again be without injured starting freshman point-guard Mike Gesell, who missed Wednesday’s victory over Purdue with a foot injury.

“Every time you lose a player of his caliber, everybody has got to step up,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “We’re not a team that is going to play seven guys and then one guy goes down and we say, ‘Now what do we do.’ ”

Iowa has beaten the Hoosiers in three of their last four meetings, but Indiana won the most recent affair earlier this season, 69-65, in Iowa City on Dec. 31. The Hawkeyes will catch Indiana at a rare time — the Hoosiers are coming off a 77-73 loss at Minnesota on Tuesday.

The defeat in Minneapolis will undoubtedly make Indiana an even hungrier team come Saturday, which is a scary proposition given the Hoosiers are 16-1 this season at Assembly Hall.

And now for the Hawkeyes, heading there without their fiery rookie floor general seems downright horrifying.

But with three games remaining in the regular season, there’s simply no time to heal; Iowa must move on as best and as quickly as it can.

“We feel bad for Mike, we’re going to get him back, and we’ll be happy when he comes back,” McCaffery said. “But right now, we’ve got other guys that can play. Let’s go play.”

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