Riding a three-game win streak, Iowa is heatingup at the right time while Colorado is trying to find some consistency afterdropping three of its last five. The two teams will match agendas Friday nightwhen they meet in a nonconference clash at the Sanford Pentagon in SiouxFalls, S.D.
It’s been an up-and-down season for the Hawkeyeswho started 3-0 but then dropped six of their next seven prior to their currentthree-game victory streak. Iowa’s last three wins have come by an average of 31points, but the victories have come against Southern, Drake and Southern Utahso Colorado will represent a step up in competition. “We’re much more connectedof late,” leading scorer Tyler Cook told reporters after Tuesday’s 92-64 winover the Thunderbirds. “Now the challenge is to stay connected, especiallyheaded into conference play.” The Buffaloes, meanwhile, followed up their worstoffensive outing (59 points in a home loss to San Diego on Dec. 12) with lastFriday’s 112-point explosion in a double-overtime home win over formidableSouth Dakota State and now will try to carry the momentum over into theirnonconference finale against the Hawkeyes.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
ABOUT COLORADO (8-3): Coach Tad Boyle isn’tafraid to shake things up, and after the brutal 25.9-percent shootingperformance against San Diego, he put three first-time starters in the lineupfor the game against the Jackrabbits. The net result was a whopping 95 pointsoff bench, led by freshman point guard McKinley Wright, who hit career highswith 30 points and 11 assists. Wright leads the team with 16.6 points and 4.5assists per contest while senior swingman George King (14.6 points, team-most8.6 rebounds) and guard Namon Wright (11.5 points) also are averaging doubledigits.
ABOUT IOWA (7-6): Cook, a 6-foot-9 sophomore forward,is pacing the Hawkeyes with 13.8 points while shooting 58.2 percent from thefloor and averaging 6.6 rebounds. Guards Jordan Bohannon (11.9 points) andIsaiah Moss (11.8) also have double-figure scoring averages while freshmanforward Luka Garza is contributing 9.9 points and a team-leading 6.8 rebounds afteraveraging 17.7 and 8.3, respectively, during the team’s three-game win streak.Iowa, though, may be without reserves Brady Ellingson and Ahmad Wagner, afterboth rolled their ankles in the first half of Tuesday’s win and didn’t return.
1. Iowa holds a 4-3 series lead, but the twoteams haven’t met since 1995.
2. Winning the battle of the boards will be keyas Iowa owns a plus-7.2 average rebounding margin while Colorado comes in witha plus-7.0.
3. McKinley Wright has scored in double figuresin all 11 games and is shooting 50.4 percent from the field.
PREDICTION: Iowa 73, Colorado 72