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The Opening Tip: Iowa Trying to Get Back on Track in Minneapolis Matinee

February 15, 2020

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa has not performed well on the road in conference play. The Hawkeyes have lost six of seven games and their defense has sprung a leak, allowing 90.5 points a contest in those setbacks.

Iowa can reverse that trend around Sunday with a key game against Minnesota in Williams Arena. It owns an 72-52 victory against Golden Gophers from a game played Dec. 9 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Here’s a closer look at Sunday’s contest in The Opening Tip:

TIME, TV: Noon CT on FS1 with Brandon Gaudin and Tim Miles on the call.

RECORDS, RANKINGS: Iowa comes in at 17-8 overall and 8-6 in the Big Ten, while Minnesota stands at 12-11, 6-7. The Hawkeyes are 21st in the AP and 17th in the Coaches Poll. The Gophers are unranked.

THE COMPUTERS: Iowa checks in at No. 30 in NET, 36 in Sagarin and 21 in Ken Pom through Friday’s action. Minnesota comes in at 40, 37 and 30.

POINT SPREAD: Minnesota is a five-point favorite with a total of 150.0.

HISTORY LESSON: Minnesota holds a 106-96 advantage in the series. The 202 meetings are the most Iowa has played against any opponent.

The two teams have split the last 10 contests, dating back to 2014. The Hawkeyes won this season’s first meeting by 20 points (72-52) in Iowa City on Dec. 9.

The Gophers own a 65-35 advantage in games played at Minnesota. Six of the last seven meetings at Williams Arena have been decided by six points or fewer, dating back to 2012, with the seventh contest a double-digit decision in double overtime in 2017. The Gophers have won the last three games played against the Hawkeyes in Minneapolis; Iowa’s last victory at Williams Arena came on Jan. 13, 2015 (77-75).

NEXT: Iowa plays host to Ohio State Thursday at 6 p.m. CT.

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SCOUTING THE GOPHERS: Minnesota’s 20-point loss at Iowa in December is its most lopsided setback in conference play this season. You can bet the Gophers will be seeking revenge against a rival on their home floor. They hate Iowa, after all.

They own a 10-2 home record with the losses coming against DePaul, who also won Iowa City, and Michigan State. They own victories against Clemson, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin at Williams Arena.

Minnesota shows up at No. 28 in Ken Pom’s adjusted offense. It’s 59th in adjusted defense. It ranks 10th among Big Ten teams in scoring (70.5 PPG) and eighth in scoring defense (66.2). They’re middle to back of the pack in conference for most statistics.

Iowa is known to struggle defending the three-point arc in league road games. The Gophers 32.1 percent shooting on treys rates 11th in the Big Ten and their 7.9 makes per contest are seventh. Gabe Kalscheur paces the conference in threes made (56), while teammate Payton Willis’ 2.2 made per game are fourth best.

Minnesota boasts one of the Big Ten’s best big men in Daniel Oturu, who leads the league with 11.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game. His 20.1 points an outing are second to the 23.7 posted by Hawkeye center Luka Garza.

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Marcus Carr, a transfer guard from Pittsburg, complements Oturu’s output with 15.7 PPG, which rank seventh in the conference. His 6.7 assists per contest rate second to Michigan’s Zavier Simpson. His 5.8 RPG are second on his team.

Kalscheur (11.7 PPG) is the other Gopher scoring in double figures. Willis is just under the line at 9.2, while the other starter, Alihan Demir, checks with 7.4 points and 4.7 rebounds.

Something else on which to keep an eye – Minnesota is coming off a seven-day layoff. Iowa played on the road Thursday night and has a short bench.

KEYS FOR HAWKEYES: It was written in this space before Thursday’s game at Indiana. The Hawkeyes needed to be better defensively, particularly in guarding the three-point line. The Hoosiers netted 11 of 22 triple attempts in an 89-77 victory.

The scouting report for this game will identify Kalscheur and Willis as deep shooters to stop. And if you neutralize that duo, don’t let Carr (35 made three-pointers) or some other unexpected Gopher get hot. Demir (11) and Tre’ Williams (15) are capable.

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Iowa also needs to be better on the boards. If it allows Minnesota a host of extra possessions after giving up 16 offensive rebounds at Indiana, they will experience a similar fate.

TIP-INS

-Iowa is 12-0 this season when holding opponents to 69 points or fewer. The Hawkeyes are 13-2 when outrebounding their opponents this season.

-Iowa held the Minnesota to 52 points on Dec. 9, the fewest in the series since 2007 (49). The Hawkeyes held Maryland to 49 points on Jan. 10, its lowest point total in a league game since joining the Big Ten in 2014-15.

-Garza tallied 38 points at Indiana on Thursday, leaving him two points shy of matching the Assembly Hall single-game record by an opponent. Garza has the two highest single-game point totals in the Big Ten this year: 44 at Michigan & 38 at Indiana.

-Sunday’s game will also be the annual Minnesota Alumni Day, with former men’s basketball players honored during a ceremony at halftime.

-Through the games of Feb. 13, the Gophers’ schedule ranks as the second toughest in NCAA Division I according to KenPom.com and the toughest according the ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI).

-Jackson-Davis is just one of four freshman nationally (Vernon Carey, Jr. – Duke, Zeke Nnaji – Arizona and Isiah Stewart – Washington) to lead his team in scoring, rebounds, field goal percentage, free throws made and free throws attempted and blocked shots.

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