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Boise State provides Big Ten-like test on Thursday

[ 2 ] December 21, 2011 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Monday’s 105-64 victory against Central Arkansas had been in the history books for 5 minutes when Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery turned the page to Boise State.

“He mentioned that Boise State is a high-quality opponent, and we needed to flush these guys (Central Arkansas) out and be ready to prepare,” Iowa senior guard Matt Gatens said. “I think he was trying to make a point. Don’t let this game (Monday) affect our preparation.”

Boise State's Anthony Drmic (3) passes away from a Northern Illinois defender during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011, in Boise, Idaho. (AP Photo/Matt Cilley)

McCaffery mean no disrespect to Central Arkansas. But he knew that Boise State, 9-3, would be more of a Big Ten-like test.

“What I said really reflected how good I thought they were,” McCaffery said of Boise State. “I don’t know if our guys fully understood we were playing a game against a team that is 9-3, and has really good players, playing together, and is really one of the most impressive teams I’ve watched on film.”

Judged on practices since the Central Arkansas game, McCaffery is confident his team understands the challenge it faces at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“Based on practice, I think they understand this is the best team on our schedule right now,” McCaffery said.

Boise State is Iowa’s final nonconference opponent, with the Big Ten opener against Purdue right around the corner on Dec. 28. The Broncos represent the kind of competition Iowa needs at this point in the season.

“What Boise brings is coming 18 times (in Big Ten play),” McCaffery said. “Quality players at every position, with a winning attitude.”

Anthony Drmic, a 6-foot-6 freshman guard from Australia, is the Broncos’ leading scorer at 14 points a game.

“He does everything,” McCaffery said. “He’s a guy that’s a handful. We’ve got to pay attention to where he is. They run stuff for him, and when he scores they come back to him. He’s that good.”

Eight more Boise State players are averaging between 6.3 and 8.9 points a game. And four Broncos have made at least 13 3-pointers.

“They will challenge us in a big way,” said McCaffery, who beat Boise State twice when he was coach at Siena.

THURSDAY’S GAME

WHO: Boise State (9-3) at Iowa (7-5)

WHERE: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City.

TIPOFF: 7:30 p.m.

TICKETS: $12 adults, $5 18-under and Iowa students; ticket also good for 5 p.m. women’s game vs. Mississippi Valley State.

TELEVISION: Mediacom

RADIO: WHO-AM (1040), Des Moines and Hawkeye Radio Network.

STAT LEADERS: For Boise State — Anthony Drmic 14.0 ppg; Ryan Watkins 5.1 rpg; Westly Perryman 3.1 apg; For Iowa — Matt Gatens 13.8 ppg; Melsahn Basabe 5.6 rpg; Bryce Cartwright 4.3 apg.

ABOUT THE BRONCOS: Boise State is 9-0 at home but 0-3 on the road, losing at Long Beach State (72-62), LSU (64-45) and Denver (79-62).

ABOUT THE HAWKEYES: Iowa trails only Indiana among Big Ten teams in biggest offensive improvement from a season ago. The Hawkeyes averaged 67.2 points last year, but are at 77.8 this year. Indiana has made a 14.9-point jump.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Boise State is 14th nationally in made 3-pointers a game, averaging 8.9. Iowa opponents are averaging seven made 3-pointers a game.

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FOLLOW IT LIVE

Register reporter Rick Brown will be keeping Twitter followers up to date on all the angles from Thursday night’s game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Follow @RickBrownDMR.

 

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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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