On a night when the memory of former Iowa basketball player Chris Street will be celebrated at halftime, the current Iowa players hope be the cause another celebration at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
But it’ll only happen if the Hawkeyes (12-5, 1-3 Big Ten) defeat Big Ten leader Wisconsin on Saturday.
Iowa swept the Badgers last season for the first time since the 1994-95 campaign, but no Big Ten team has defeated Wisconsin this season.
Wisconsin is coming off a 64-59 victory against No. 2 Indiana on Tuesday in Bloomington, Ind. Four Badgers scored in double figures and they also held Indiana to fewer than 60 points for the first time this season.
And while many were surprised by the outcome, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery wasn’t among them.
“No, nothing surprises me, pretty much with anything in this game,” McCaffery said.
McCaffery then explained why Wisconsin prevailed against one of the top teams in the country and in a hostile environment.
“They played tough, they played smart, they didn’t turn it over, they made shots, they made shots when they needed to, they rebounded, they got ahead,” McCaffery said about the Badgers, who currently sit alone in first place in the Big Ten at 4-0 and 13-4 overall. “I think that helped, especially when you’re on the road, you want to get ahead.”
In addition to wanting to honor Street’s memory with a victory, the Iowa players also want to avoid losing their first three Big Ten games at home. Indiana and Michigan State already have escaped from Carver-Hawkeye Arena with victories this season by a combined seven points.
Iowa freshman center Adam Woodbury hasn’t played against Wisconsin, but he knows what to expect.
“They played hard and they kind of implemented their style of game on Indiana,” Woodbury said. “They kind of slowed them down, and that’s something we need to change.”
Wisconsin ranks first in the country in fewest turnovers, committing just 8.9 per game, and sixth in scoring defense at 54.9 points per game.
The Badgers are known for playing tough defense and for being disciplined on offense under 12th-year coach Bo Ryan.
They also are known for winning. Ryan has led Wisconsin to the NCAA Tournament in each of his first 11 seasons as coach.
Even with all that’s at stake, McCaffery said he isn’t concerned about his players feeling too much pressure.
“I think there’s enough pressure just game to game and just trying to remember what they have to do,” McCaffery said. “I think we’ll be OK there.”
Reach Pat Harty at 339-7368 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball