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Almost time for another Iowa-Iowa State men’s basketball game

[ 0 ] December 8, 2011 |

Fred Hoiberg is 41 games into his Iowa State coaching career. He has been around long enough, though, to know opponents aren’t always as they seem.

He watched a replay of Iowa’s 20-point loss Tuesday against Northern Iowa because at 7 p.m. Friday inside sure-to-be rocking Hilton Coliseum, it’s another Iowa-Iowa State night.

Iowa's Melsahn Basabe drives to the basket against Iowa State's Melvin Ejim during last season's game at Carver=Hawkeye Arena. (BILL NEIBERGALL / REGISTER FILE PHOTO)

He went to bed figuring that in this instance, the scoreboard lied.

“It was a two-point game with under 10 minutes to go, then they had a couple things that didn’t go their way,” Hoiberg said. “They play hard. They compete hard. We’ve got to get our crowd into the game.”

While the Hawkeyes’ record was falling to 5-4, the Cyclones were raising their record to 6-3 during a 25-point victory against Prairie View A&M.

They did it with a new point guard, Chris Allen replacing Scott Christopherson. They did it with a powerful 1-2 inside punch of Royce White and Percy Gibson.

“They’re a unique team to prepare for because of all their shooters and because of Royce White,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said of the 6-foot-8, 270-pound sophomore. “Not only do you have experienced, talented 3-point shooters, you’ve got a big, strong post guy who can go in and out.

“And then they’ve got some other guys . . .like Gibson. . . playing really well, so you’ve got other pieces that can score.”

Allen will run the offense for the second game in a row, because Hoiberg wants Christopherson focusing more on shooting.

“I was getting used to the point guard position, but we weren’t playing well,” said Christopherson, who scored 30 points against Iowa last season.

“Coach said I want you to get back to where you’re attacking more. More than anything, I think he’s just trying to shake things up and get our team in a little better flow.”

Devyn Marble will open at point guard for Iowa, again replacing hamstring-injured Bryce Cartwright.

“I thought Marble played a very good game,” Hoiberg said of the 6-foot-6 sophomore. “He did a good job using his length.”

Past Iowa vs. Iowa State photos: 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

McCaffery said Cartwright might play Friday night, although it’s more likely he’ll return Dec. 17 against Drake.

“Based on how he looked (Wednesday), I wouldn’t expect him to play,” McCaffery said. “But I wouldn’t rule it out.”

None of the point guards are likely to be as much of a difference-maker as White. He leads the Cyclones in scoring, rebounds, and assists – and sometimes he even dribbles through successfully against full court presses.

“He’s really a unique player,” McCaffery said, citing an ability to handle the ball, and either score off the dribble or under the basket. “But one of the things that makes him dangerous is that he really likes to pass, and he’s good at it.

“I don’t know that I can remember too many guys that are that big and strong who have that complete skill set.”

Rick Brown contributed to this story

==== FRIDAY’S GAME ====

WHO: Iowa (5-4) at Iowa State (6-3)

WHERE: Hilton Coliseum

TIPOFF: 7 p.m.

TICKETS: $30.

TV/RADIO: Cyclone Television Network, including WOI in Des Moines and KCRG in Cedar Rapids/ Cyclone Radio Network 100.3-FM in Des Moines; Hawkeye Network, including WHO in Des Moines.

STAT LEADERS: For Iowa — Matt Gatens 13.8 ppg, Melsahn Basabe 4.9 rpg, Bryce Cartwright 4.1 apg; For Iowa State — Royce White 14.8 ppg, White 9.9 rpg, White 4.2 apg.

ABOUT THE HAWKEYES: The most recent three opponents have outscored Iowa 111-42 from 3-point range, and that’s one of the big reasons the Hawkeyes have lost two of the past three games. Scoring leader Matt Gatens has combined for just 23 points the past three games. “They’re pushing up on Gatens and (Josh) Oglesby big time,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said, “so we’re going to need some other guys step up.”

ABOUT THE CYCLONES: A goal tonight will be getting shooter Scott Christopherson back on track. After making 86 3-point baskets last season, he has fallen off to making just 13 in nine games. That’s why second-guard Chris Allen and Christopherson have switched positions. “I’m back where I’ve been playing my whole life,” Christopherson said.

WHAT TO WATCH: Keep an eye under the basket and how Iowa chooses to defend 6-foot-8, 270-pound Royce White. An Iowa State emphasis will be keeping the Hawkeyes off the offensive board, which led to 10 second-chance points against Northern Iowa.

Iowa’s individual statistics | Iowa State’s individual statistics

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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