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Iowa and Iowa State meet once again

BY JACOB SHEYKO | DECEMBER 12, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa didn’t dwell on the loss. It didn’t hang over the Hawkeyes’ heads longer than other losses. The players’ job was to move past it. And they did.

But as Aaron White recalls last year’s 85-82 defeat at the hands of Iowa State, the memories come rushing back.

He remembers being up 5 points with 1:30 remaining and Adam Woodbury uncharacteristically fouling Georges Niang 45 feet from the basket.

White remembers grabbing an offensive rebound on a Jarrod Uthoff miss, only to turn it back over seconds later. And he remembers Niang making a reverse lay-up to give Iowa State the lead. Mike Gesell followed that play by missing two late free throws with 13 seconds left that could have given the lead back to Iowa.

“I don’t think [the loss] stuck with us,” White said. “I think it hurt a little more than other losses because we had them … there were some plays that you look back at and … how did we lose that game? But at the time we did.”

Iowa and No. 14 Iowa State are set to meet tonight at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and as with each matchup between these two teams, there’s history. But given last year’s game between the two rising programs, perhaps this season’s matchup has a little added fuel.

“You try to move on,” Gabe Olaseni said. “But I’m sure we’ll see it in film [Wednesday] or Thursday, so that will bring back a fresh wound.”

The only Iowa player to say last year’s loss stuck with him longer was Gesell, whose two late missed free throws were a point of scrutiny for the Hawkeyes.

Gesell says he’s over it now and has used it as a learning experience, as he tries to do with every game.

Learning experience or not, it’s a lot easier said than done to get over a loss in which Iowa led for 34:55 of the 40 minutes played.

“I think in a lot of people’s minds, including mine, we should have won that game,” Uthoff said. “There was no reason we should have lost. I’m looking forward to a little redemption.”

Despite this game having a lot of weight based on last year’s matchup, there are a lot of differences between the two teams after a year.

Iowa averages 72 points per game this season; before the Iowa State game last season, the Hawkeyes averaged 89.5 points per game. They’ve slowed down, with a stronger emphasis on defense — 54.9 points per game allowed, 16th in the nation.

Iowa State’s different as well, and in many eyes, better.

After losing to No. 19 Maryland early in the season, the Cyclones have recovered with three-straight wins by 15 points or more.

“The thing that jumps out at you is that they have so many weapons,” head coach Fran McCaffery said. “Obviously, it starts with Niang playing the best of his career, which is saying a lot.”

But until Iowa and Iowa State actually tip off tonight, the attention will remain on the clash these teams had nearly a year ago to the day. A clash that after winning, Niang said that everyone knew Iowa was a “Cyclone State.”

Olaseni said that he actually hadn’t heard the comment, adding that he would expect a player to step up for his team.

While it went unnoticed to Olaseni, White had heard of Niang’s comments, but that’s not what’s getting him excited for this rivalry game.

“I’m not hyping into that,” White said, smiling. “You’re going to be motivated when you walk in the building. I’m going to be motivated when we introduce them. It doesn’t take much to fire me up.

“For [the players], we know what it is. We got to take care of business.” 

Follow @JacobSheyko on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa men’s basketball team.


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