Indiana faces difficult matchup at No. 4 Iowa

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Indiana faces difficult matchup at No. 4 Iowa

Iowa has always managed to play offense at a high level during head coach Fran McCaffery’s 11-year tenure.

But the No. 4 Hawkeyes have taken their offensive efficiency to a stratospheric level this season.

Iowa (12-2, 6-1 Big Ten) takes a five-game win streak into its matchup with Indiana on Thursday night at home. Overall, the Hawkeyes have won 22 of their last 23 games at Carver Hawkeye-Arena.

Behind national player of the year candidate Luka Garza, who leads the Big Ten in scoring at 26.9 points per game, Iowa boasts the Big Ten’s top scoring offense (92.2 points per game).

Garza posted 17 points and 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season in Iowa’s previous game, a 96-73 win over Northwestern last Sunday.

“We’re getting really good play from our veteran guys as you would expect,” McCaffery said. “But we’re getting great play from our young guys off the bench. That’s an example of our depth. That is absolutely critical in this league.”

Garza’s inside production also has helped open up the 3-point line, as Iowa leads the conference in 3-pointers made per game (10.4) while ranking second in 3-point field goal percentage (39.5 percent).

“The more 3-point weapons your team has, the harder you’re going to be to guard, provided the group of individuals are unselfish and team-oriented,” McCaffery said. “When you have the best low-post player in college basketball, you want to throw it inside, you want to get him the ball. But he’s equally effective at the 3-point line, which creates opportunities for others to flash into the low post and post up or drive the ball into a space that wouldn’t be there if Luka was always there.”

Indiana (8-6, 3-4) had its game Sunday at Michigan State postponed after a disappointing loss to rival Purdue on Jan. 14. Indiana coach Archie Miller is hopeful the time off will help his team re-charge as it gets into a more difficult portion of its conference schedule. The Hoosiers have slipped defensively of late, allowing an average of 78.7 points over its last three games.

“This conference is going to put your head underwater a bunch and we have a lot of Big Ten basketball games left,” Miller said on his radio show Monday night. “To keep the big picture in mind is important. We can get a lot better. We’re a good team and if we can start to put our parts together and get more consistent back on the defensive end of the floor, that will make our offense a little less stressful.”

Miller said another area where the Hoosiers need to show improvement is at the free-throw line. Indiana is shooting 66.6 percent at the line for the season and made just 16 of 29 (55.2 percent) in last week’s loss to Purdue.

“It’s almost like a turnover when you miss a pair or a front end of a one-and-one,” Miller said. “So as much as anything that we can do offensively we’ve got to find a way to be more consistent from the foul line.”

–Field Level Media

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