The Hoosiers may need to trade in their basketball shoes for running shoes before their matchup with the Iowa Hawkeyes.
It should be a fast-paced affair in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes rank No. 4 nationally and first in the Big Ten in scoring offense. Through 15 games, they average 86.7 points in those affairs.
According to Kenpom.com, they also rank No. 3 in adjusted offensive efficiency with a 121.2 rating. The only teams in front of them are Purdue and Gonzaga. Iowa also has an adjusted tempo rating of 71.8, second fastest in the Big Ten behind only Nebraska.
The Hoosiers will attempt to slow down the Hawkeyes and dictate the game. They also hope to score frequently to be able to run down the court and set up their defense as Iowa has to inbound the ball.
“We’ve got to control the ball,” head coach Mike Woodson said of slowing Iowa’s transition game.
“If that ball is inbounded, we’ve got to try to get to it early, and we can’t let it come up the sideline very quickly. That’s how fast breaks are started. You throw it in and you advance the ball up the sideline or you throw it up and make gut passes, and we’ve got to eliminate those.”
That will be one of the many tough tasks for the Hoosiers defense at Carver Hawkeye Arena. Another is stopping sophomore forward Keegan Murray.
Murray is among the most prolific scorers in college basketball. He leads the nation in points per game with an average of 24.7 points. He is a shifty forward who can stretch the floor and put the ball on the ground and drive the lane. Murray also has a wide arrange of post moves to choose from.
The 6-foot-8 Murray is 26-of-63 for 36.5 percent from deep so far this season. He is also averaging 7.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.
“We’re sitting here with two days to go to try to put a solid game plan together because he’s really a good player, man,” Woodson said of Murray.
“There’s nothing he can’t do on the basketball floor, and that’s on both ends. He’s long and rangy. I like everything about him. But he’s got a nice supporting cast, too.”
Behind Murray, Iowa has Patrick McCaffery– son of head coach Fran McCaffery– who averages 11.2 points per game. Jordan Bohannon is also back for his sixth season and is averaging 10.8 points per game and shooting 40-percent from deep.
However, due to their lack of size, the Hawkeyes will throw different defenses at their opponents to confuse them. As noted by Woodson, Iowa has played full court, three-quarter court, half-court, and matchup zones. They also like to press to speed up the flow of the game.
“I think we’ve seen a little bit of it all year,” said Woodson of the zone defenses. “So we’ve just got to be sharp and ready when we see it. That’s going to be the key, I think, one of the keys to the game in terms of handling their pressure and getting the ball.”
As for the offense, their coach is encouraging them to pick and choose their battles and when to attack. He will lean heavily on his veteran guards, Rob Phinisee and Xavier Johnson, to make those decisions.
“The game is played how it’s played. If they force our hands and we’ve got opportunities to push it and score the ball, you’ve got to take advantage of it,” added Woodson.
“Only time will tell. I don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but we’ve just got to go and make ourselves committed to playing for 40 minutes and see what happens.”
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