Iowa continues to put up dynamic scoring numbers this season.
However, the No. 21 Hawkeyes need to prove they can win on the road in the conference to stay in the Big Ten title hunt.
Iowa (17-7, 8-5 Big Ten) will begin a stretch of three of its next four games on the road on Thursday night when it faces Indiana in Bloomington.
The Hawkeyes have lost consecutive games away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena since a Jan. 14 win at Northwestern. Iowa has given up an average of 93 points in its past two road defeats, including a 104-68 loss at Purdue on Feb. 5.
The Hawkeyes bounced back from that blowout to rout Nebraska 96-72 on Saturday. Sophomore guard Joe Wieskamp scored 30 points, and junior center Luka Garza, who leads the Big Ten in scoring at 23.1 points per game, added 22.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said he wasn’t surprised that his team responded in a positive way.
“We have a mature group,” McCaffery said. “We have a talented group, a group that competes and understands how to compete. We’ve shown toughness.”
Garza and Wieskamp (15.4 ppg) combine to average 38.5 points per game, the fifth-best Division I scoring duo in the country. As a team, Iowa leads the Big Ten in scoring at 79.1 points per game.
“Our efficiency and execution on offense is as good as it’s been,” McCaffery said.
Indiana (15-8, 5-7) is in desperate need of a win to revive its fading NCAA Tournament hopes. The Hoosiers have lost four straight, with the last three losses by an average margin of 12 points.
Indiana coach Archie Miller suggested on his radio show Monday he may need to shorten his 10-player rotation in an effort to get the results he wants on the court.
“At some point, you have to draw the line,” Miller said. “If you don’t want to be a part of winning, you’re not going to be a part of what we’re doing.”
A bright spot for the Hoosiers has been the play of forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, who earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors for the fourth time this season on Monday after finishing with 16 points and eight rebounds on Saturday in the Hoosiers’ 74-62 loss to Purdue. Jackson-Davis leads Big Ten freshmen in scoring (13.8 ppg), blocked shots (1.9 bpg) and free throws made (94).
“He’s got to keep getting better,” Miller said. “I think right now Trayce is the type of guy that I’ve seen with my own two eyes that when the lights are the brightest and the challenge is the biggest, he seems to be more ready.”
Iowa announced Tuesday that junior forward Cordell Pemsl (2.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg) will sit out the game because of a violation of team rules.
McCaffery said he feels as if the Hawkeyes are in a good place physically and mentally heading into the stretch run of the season.
“We’ve got smart guys,” McCaffery said. “They know what the league is, we know what it’s been to this point. Tough schedule ahead of them. They’ve handled it so far. As you get to the end of a season obviously it gets more difficult and grueling in terms of stamina and finishing really strong.”
–Field Level Media