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Iowa men's basketball works toward consistency

[ 6 ] February 7, 2011 |

Iowa City, Ia. — One thing Big Ten basketball provides teams fighting to join the conference’s elite is opportunity.

“That’s one of the great things about this league,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “There’s always great opportunity for everyone to make a move. And we’re making a move. Now we just have to continue to be consistent.”

Sophomore Eric May and Iowa host No. 13 Wisconsin on Wednesday. The Hawkeyes have won two consecutive conference games for the first time since 2007. (Michael Conroy/Associated Press)

The Hawkeyes defeated Michigan State at home and Indiana on the road in their past two games — the program’s first league winning streak since the 2006-07 season. Now, they  face another challenge when No. 13 Wisconsin visits Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday.

Iowa has lost 23 consecutive games against Top 25 foes, going back to a 43-36 victory against No. 6 Michigan State on Jan. 12, 2008. The Hawkeyes are 0-5 this season against ranked foes. Two of those losses have been to No. 1 Ohio State.

“In the past we’ve had a lot of opportunities that we’ve let slip away,” said Matt Gatens, Iow

a’s leading scorer. “The Ohio State (73-68) and Illinois (87-77) games at home come to mind. We played close games but didn’t finish. Wisconsin is another team like that. It would be good to keep our streak going, our momentum going, and knock off  a team like that.”

This will be the season’s first and only meeting with Wisconsin, which is 7-3 in the Big Ten and 17-5 overall. Iowa is 3-8 in the Big Ten and 10-13 overall.

“Look at what (coach Bo Ryan’s ) done on a consistent basis,” said McCaffery, who like Ryan is a Pennsylvania native. “It’s hard to stay on top every year, like they’ve done.”

Iowa’s 72-52 victory against Michigan State on Wednesday and the 64-63 win at Indiana, a game where the Hawkeyes rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final 7 1/2 minutes at sold-out Assembly Hall, are signs of progress.

“I think we can all agree that the Michigan State game was our best 40 minutes of the year,” McCaffery said. “And then to go on the road and to be able to come back in that environment, that’s not an easy place to play. For us to be able to keep our composure, come back and make plays at the end of the game, was a big step.”

Archie misses practice: Reserve center Devon Archie missed practice Monday, but has not been ruled out of Wednesday’s game.

Archie landed on his head in a first-half fall during  Saturday’s win at Indiana. Archie did not return to play the second half against the Hoosiers.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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