GAME NOTES: Hitting the road for the first official time this season, the 23rd-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes take on the 17th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones at Hilton Coliseum on Friday night.
This bout marks the 67th all-time meeting between these two intrastate rivals, and it is the first time since 1987 that both come in among the nationally- ranked. Iowa owns a 43-23 series advantage, and won last year's tussle, 80-71.
Iowa is off to a sensational start, winning 10 of its first 11 games, with the lone loss coming against Villanova (88-83 in OT) in the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament on Nov. 30. Since then, the Hawkeyes have won three straight, with the most recent triumph coming in a 92-59 rout of visiting Fairleigh Dickinson earlier this week.
Iowa State is a perfect 7-0 on the young season, marking their best start since 2003-04, and the team has won all five of its home games. The Cyclones already have triumphs over some power conference schools in Michigan (77-70) and Auburn (99-70), as well quality wins over BYU (90-88) and most recently, Northern Iowa (91-82). The game versus the Panthers was one of ISU's toughest, as it needed to go to overtime to decide the outcome against another Hawkeye State rival.
Iowa has had very little trouble putting points on the board this season, lighting it up to the tune of 89.5 ppg behind typical shooting outputs of 46.9 percent overall and 36.9 percent from 3-point range. The team boasts three double-digit scorers in Roy Devyn Marble (15.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.5 apg), Aaron White (12.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.5 apg) and Jarrod Uthoff (10.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg), the latter of whom does his damage as the team's top reserve. Defensively, the Hawkeyes have been on target as well, yielding a mere 64.2 ppg, with foes shooting just 36.0 percent from the floor, 26.3 percent from beyond the arc, all while coming up way short in the rebounding battle (-10.1) and committing nearly 15 turnovers per game. Iowa had five players reach double figures in the 33-point win over FDU, and had 11 guys in all score in the game. Gabriel Olaseni (14 points, 10 rebounds) was one of three players to record a double- double for the Hawkeyes, who knocked down 48.6 percent of their total shots, compared to only 32.3 percent for the Knights. A massive 54-32 rebounding differential coupled with a 20-10 edge in points from the foul line also played a significant role in the lopsided outcome.
As potent as the Iowa offense has been, Iowa State's has been even more so, as the team entered the week ranked third in the country with an average of 91.7 ppg. The Cyclones are shooting 49.3 percent from the field, which includes a 37.4 percent effort from 3-point range, while also laying claim to positive margins in both rebounding (+9.0) and turnovers (+1.0). Their defensive effort permits the opposition a field goal percentage of .370, with only 26.9 percent of their long-range launches finding the bottom of the net. The resulting scoring yield comes in at 67.6 ppg. Melvin Ejim (18.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg) leads five players in double digits, and Dustin Hogue is putting up a nightly double- double in netting 12.7 ppg while pulling down 10.4 rpg. DeAndre Kane (15.4 ppg, 5.3 apg) not only serves as one of the club's top scorers, but also its primary playmaker. Ejim and George Niang both hit for 22 points in the recent overtime victory over Northern Iowa, while Kane (18 points, 11 rebounds) and Hogue (17 points, 14 rebounds) logged double-doubles.
This should be a high-scoring game between two teams that don't exactly like each other. Expect the ISU faithful to cheer their team on to victory, keeping the Cyclones' perfect record intact.