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Road warriors: Iowa’s success away from home

BY JACOB SHEYKO | FEBRUARY 24, 2015 5:00 AM

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Hawkeye forward Aaron White referred to Jarrod Uthoff when describing the success Iowa has enjoyed on the road this season, including its most recent victory, a 74-46 throttling of Nebraska.

During games, Uthoff’s emotions rarely change or are shown. It doesn’t matter whether he’s in front of 15,500 fans rooting for him or the same number rooting against him. The same goes for if Iowa is up by 25 points, knotted in a close game, or getting blown out.

It’s also probably a product of being part of an experienced team, filled with players who went through the up-and-down nature of last season and have been through their fair share of bumps this season.

Whatever the reason, Iowa’s success on the road — and the manner in which it has won — might be the best thing going for the Hawkeyes when time comes to select the field for the NCAA Tournament.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who don’t really care where they play,” White said. “They just hoop.

“… We’ve kind of got a demeanor like that in general. Which is a great demeanor to have, because some of the venues you go into are just, they’re nuts. And this place [in Nebraska] was about to be nuts. They were ready to blow the roof of the place, and we never let them get into it. That’s what you got to do on the road.”

There really is no statistical evidence on why Iowa has enjoyed so much success on the road, which has surfaced with five true road wins, the most for an Iowa team in the regular season since the 2002-03 season. It’s also the third-most road wins of any Big Ten team, trailing Wisconsin’s eight and Michigan State’s six.  

Iowa actually allows 2 points per game fewer and scores about 2 points per game more in Big Ten home games this season than on the road. However, an 82-50 road loss to Wisconsin may skew those numbers a bit.

Numbers aside, Iowa has four road wins against teams with a top-100 RPI ranking, and two of those are against top-50 RPI-ranked teams — North Carolina (13) and Ohio State (41).

“We’re an experienced team,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “We should be able to go on the road, and execute, and follow the game plan, and not get too rattled by the surroundings.”

With two more road games remaining on the schedule, the importance of those games can’t be stressed enough.

In 2013-14, Iowa went 4-6 in regular-season road games. Not a great mark, but enough to grant Iowa a bid into the NCAA Tournament. In the 2012-13 season, Iowa went 2-8 on the road during the regular season. It missed out on the NCAA Tournament and played in the NIT.

“I think we try as best we can as coaches to prepare them not only for what they are walking into on the court and then in this building or whatever building,” McCaffery said. “It ultimately comes down to their ability to maintain composure.”

Road wins aren’t the only thing that keeps teams playing deep into March, and Iowa isn’t without some impressive showings in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Hawkeyes gave Maryland a 71-55 beat-down at home. They also defeated Ohio State for a second time this season in front of Black and Gold supporters.

However, there has always been something more impressive about going on the road in the Big Ten and imposing one’s will upon another team, something Iowa’s done a fair number of times this season.

“They know what they’re fighting for,” Nebraska head coach Tim Miles said about the Hawkeyes.

“They looked like a team with pride … They had poise. They had aggressiveness. And they really put on a clinic.”

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


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