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Fran McCaffery, Roy Devyn Marble

Game Preview: Gophers vs. Iowa 2/3/13

02/01/2013, 2:45pm CST
By J.B. Bauer

Minnesota Wants to Avenge Last Season's Hawkeye-Sweep

Third year head coach Fran McCaffery has his program on a solid path. His Iowa Hawkeyes visit the Minnesota Golden Gophers Sunday afternoon for a 12:06pm CT tip. The game can be seen on the Big Ten Network.

Seven-foot-one freshman center Adam Woodbury brings size, skill to Iowa. (Photo: David Scrivner / Press-Citizen)

Seven-foot-one freshman center Adam Woodbury brings size, skill to the Hawkeyes. (Photo: David Scrivner / Press-Citizen)

Game Preview: Iowa (14-7, 3-5) at #23/#24 Minnesota (16-5, 4-4) 2/3/13

Minnesota took out their frustrations on an overmatched Nebraska team Tuesday night. The Gophers snapped a four game losing streak by defeating the Huskers 84-65 in what was Minnesota’s best offensive performance this season. 

Nebraska’s impressive shooting was the only thing that kept the game from being a complete laugher, although stellar performances from Ray Gallegos and Brandon Ubel weren’t enough to keep this one very close. Minnesota will want to review their defense from Tuesday as Nebraska shot better than any opponent has since the 2009-10 season, but on offense Tubby’s team was excellent.

With a season that has already experienced ups and downs, it’s important to remember there are still 10 conference games remaining. However, the win over the Huskers was needed in the worst way. 

Over the next five weeks the Gophers will try to move up the Big Ten standings for a top four finish, but in order to do so a game like Sunday’s against Iowa becomes one they badly need. 

A conference finish of 9-9 or better should put Minnesota in good shape for an NCAA tournament berth and there are many paths to five more conference wins. However, after hosting Iowa comes a trip to Michigan State and a loss on Sunday could cause concerns to creep back in.

The Hawkeyes are like a hearty stew sitting in the slow cooker. It still needs some time before it’s ready, but you can smell how good it’s going to be. Third year head coach Fran McCaffery has real talent on his roster and the ability to play bigger or smaller as matchups and game flow may dictate.

My definition of depth is being able to go deep into your bench without losing a lot. McCaffery has that. Best of all for Iowa’s future prospects, there is only one (scholarship) senior on this team. 

Next year Jarrod Uthoff, a versatile forward who is sitting after transferring in from Wisconsin, and current high school senior Peter Jok will join the Hawkeyes. In addition and extremely important is that their young players – with emphasis added on freshmen Mike Gesell and Adam Woodbury – will be a year older.

Iowa’s defense has been solid this year, although part of that is due to a low 3FG% (29.0%) defense which will likely rise as the season progresses. 

For the Hawkeyes it’s been offense where they haven’t been able to get things clicking consistently. However a year from now this group should show meaningful improvement with the ball. 

SHOOTING 
Minnesota has shot the ball much better than Iowa in Big Ten games. The Hawkeyes have had some good games shooting 2-point field goals, but they’ve been inconsistent and their 3-point shooting has been awful (26.7%). The Hawk’s top outside threat, sophomore reserve Josh Oglesby, has struggled all season (24/88 3FG for 27.3%) but must be tracked closely.

Edge: Minnesota

TURNOVERS
The Gophers are just days removed from their best job limiting turnovers in more than three years. Iowa doesn’t turn their opponents over a lot, but Minnesota can’t let Sunday’s faster pace of play result in an absurd number of giveaways.

Freshman point guards Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons don’t have very good turnover rates, but the rest of the team helps to offset some of their misdeeds.

Edge: Iowa

REBOUNDING
Gopher fans know the story: their team is excellent on the offensive boards, but not good on the defensive glass. Iowa can be solid on both sides of the glass, but like other areas of their game the Hawkeyes are inconsistent. 

We’ll likely see Melsahn Basabe get his second start of the season and that means he’ll be up front along with Aaron White and Adam Woodbury. That’s a lot of good offensive rebounders for the Gophers to address.

Edge: Minnesota

FREE THROWS
Both teams get to the line relatively often. Foul trouble would be less of an issue for Iowa because of their depth and their best player Aaron White’s ability to avoid picking up fouls.

Edge: Tie

KEY PLAYERS

Aaron White (14.0p, 6.0r, 59.2% 2FG) has had a strong sophomore campaign and set his career-high with 27 points Thursday night against Penn State. The 6’8” forward is fairly athletic and draws a lot of contact around the rim. He’s a player that seems to always be where the action is on the court. Very, very good player. 

Junior Roy Devyn Marble (14.1p, 4.0r, 2.9a) is playing off the ball again after spending some time at the point a year ago. He’s not a great shooter, but at 6’6” has a good skill set that includes passing the ball and getting to the free throw line.

Other Players to Watch:

  • Mike Gesell (8.8p, 2.9r, 2.9a) & Anthony Clemmons (5.0p, 3.7a) can both play the point, but Gesell has spent a good amount of his time at off guard as well. These two freshmen are learning on the job, but gaining invaluable experience. Gesell is a well-rounded player who is a key to Iowa taking a big step forward next season.
     
  • Freshman center Adam Woodbury (5.3p, 5.3r) played AAU with Gesell and is also a big (literally – he’s 7’1”, 235) reason why Iowa’s future is so bright. He’s been great rebounding and blocking shots this year, but Woodbury’s offensive game should get a lot better with just a bit more time. 
     
  • Melsahn Basabe (7.4p, 4.5r, 1.1b) didn’t have the sophomore season he wanted, but things are starting to pick up for the 6’7” junior forward. Basabe got his first start of the season against Penn State and figures to get the nod in Minnesota as well after posting a double-double. Basabe rebounds, blocks shots and is another athletic player who can work through contact. At his best he’s very good and he is playing well as of late. 
     
  • Josh Oglesby (4.7p, 27.3% 3FG) teamed with Jarrod Uthoff for the Iowa Barnstormers AAU program, but with Uthoff sitting out per transfer rules it’ll be another year before they’re on the floor together. Oglesby needs to continue to shoot. It may not be until next season, but I’d expect his shooting prowess to show up on the stat sheet eventually. (Side note: Barnstormers teammate Seth Tuttle at Northern Iowa is very good.)
     
  • Senior Eric May (4.2p, 3.5r) and junior Zach McCabe (5.9p, 3.8r) bring experience off the bench.
     
  • Reserve center Gabe Olaseni (3.0p, 3.0r, 1.0b) stands 6’10” and can move very well for his size. The native of London is a good shot blocker, but hasn’t recorded one in five games (49 minutes played). 

OTHER NOTES

  • Iowa has nine players averaging 15 minutes or more this season. The Gophers have five such players.
     
  • Nebraska shot 64.8% eFG. That’s the highest an opponent has shot against the Gophers since the 2009-10 season. The Gophers shot 57.6% eFG for the game.
     
  • Looking back a decade, there does not appear to be any games in which a team shot higher than 64.8% against Minnesota, yet the Gophers came out with a victory other than Tuesday vs. Nebraska.
     
  • Nebraska’s three top defensive rebounders (DR%) had only 2 rebounds in 74 minutes.
     
  • Rodney Williams (23 Pts, 65.4% eFG, 6/6 FT, 3 OR, 2 DR, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, Blk, 0 TO) and Austin Hollins (13 Pts, 60% eFG, 3 OR, 5 Ast, 3 Stl, 0 TO) were terrific.
     
  • Julian Welch had 4 assists and 0 turnovers in 11 minutes.

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J.B. Bauer on Twitter

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