Although it took enduring a 1-6 stretch and roughly a third of the season to get there, Iowa finally put together a performance that made its eighth-year coach proud. The Hawkeyes attempt to match their longest winning streak of the 2017-18 campaign Tuesday when they host Southern Utah in the first meeting between the schools.
Iowa took advantage of its size early and often in Saturday’s 90-64 drubbing of Drake, enjoying a 41-24 edge on the boards, scoring 52 points inside the paint and shooting 55 percent overall - including 63 percent inside the arc - against a team that nearly upset Minnesota on the road five days earlier. “I think it was (our) best collective effort. We just really haven’t put it together until today. This is a team (Drake) that’s really impressed me. For us to be able to play the way we did is certainly a big step for us,” coach Fran McCaffery said. The rout also marked the first time all season in which all 16 players on the roster were active and uninjured for the Hawkeyes, who have scored at least 85 points in each of their six victories. The Thunderbirds matched last season’s win total with Saturday’S 86-80 triumph over Central Michigan and have already seen the best of what the Big Ten has to offer, dropping an 88-63 decision at No. 2 Michigan State on Dec. 9.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
ABOUT SOUTHERN UTAH (6-4): Seattle transfer Jadon Cohee (team-high marks of 16.8 points, 4.3 assists) has reached double figures in nine of the first 10 games and recorded a season-high seven assists versus the Chippewas on Saturday. Fellow junior guard Brandon Better (13.8 points) is one of three Thunderbirds averaging at least 12 points per game after pouring in a team-high 17 off the bench Saturday, while 6-11 sophomore reserve forward Ivan Madunic added a career-high 16. Jamal Aytes (12 points per game) is 0-for-7 from the field and has totaled three points over the last two contests after averaging 17.2 over his previous five, but James McGee (9.8) snapped out of a three-game slump with 16 points versus Central Michigan.
ABOUT IOWA (6-6): Sophomore forward Tyler Cook (team-high 13.7 points) arose from a three-game slumber with 23 points on 10-of-13 from the field - including six dunks - against the Bulldogs. Junior forward Nicholas Baer did a bit of everything versus Drake, finishing with 11 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and five steals to become the first Hawkeye to tally more than 13 rebounds, four assists and four steals in a game since Reggie Evans did it against Missouri on Dec. 16, 2000. Sophomore forward Cordell Pemsl returned from a one-game absence after sustaining a deep cut on his leg in a Dec. 7 loss to Iowa State and had six points along with eight rebounds in 12 minutes in his return to action last Saturday.
1. Iowa is 15-1 all-time against current members of the Big Sky.
2. After shooting at least 40 percent beyond the arc once over their first seven contests, the Thunderbirds have hit or exceeded that mark in each of their last three games.
3. The Hawkeyes are shooting at a 53-percent clip in their six victories and have made 50.7 percent of their field-goal attempts in their five home games (5-0).
PREDICTION: Iowa 91, Southern Utah 80