Iowa City, IA – Facing off against a ranked opponent for the ranked Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa this evening.
Iowa, which is 2-3 versus the top-25 teams in the country in 2011-12, is trying to snap a two-game slide today, having bowed to Northwestern and Penn State on the road. The setback to the Nittany Lions took place on Thursday night, a 69-64 final in Happy Valley which means the Hawkeyes are now three games under .500 in conference play (5-8) and just 13-13 overall thus far in 2011-12.
As for the Hoosiers, a team which opened the campaign with 12 straight victories, one of those coming against Kentucky, they appear to again be heading in the right direction as they ride a three-game win streak. Four nights ago the squad slipped by Northwestern at home in Bloomington with a 71-66 triumph, pushing Indiana to 8-6 in league play as it logged a fourth win in five outings.
The Hoosiers own a 95-73 advantage in the all-time series between the teams, thanks in part to a 103-89 battle in the first meeting of the season at home last month.
Northwestern led by as many as six points just eight minutes into the meeting with the Hoosiers on Wednesday evening, but Indiana picked up the pace in the second half with 54.2 percent accuracy from the floor in order to capture the win. Cody Zeller led the way with 23 points and seven rebounds, connecting on all but two of his 11 field goal attempts, while Christian Watford and Victor Oladipo tacked on 12 points apiece as the team survived just 2-of-13 shooting behind the three-point line. Overall this season the Hoosiers are averaging 78.4 ppg and permitting just 65.9 ppg, but when it comes to only Big Ten matchups, the margin for error is much smaller for the program. Through 14 league bouts Indiana is producing 72.9 ppg, but at the same time giving up 71.1 ppg. Zeller is responsible for 16.1 ppg in conference play, shooting an outstanding 65.1 percent from the floor, the group as a whole is down at 47.9 percent, certainly still a respectable effort in such a tough conference.
Iowa made good on 56.5 percent from the floor in the second half against Penn State a few nights back, but the team dug itself a deep hole in the first half when connecting on just 7-of-26 from the field, preventing the Hawkeyes from completing the comeback bid. Nevertheless, Matt Gatens scored a game-high 21 points on 5-of-7 shooting behind the three-point line, followed by Aaron White who recorded a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Roy Devyn Marble filled out his stat line with 13 points, eight boards and six assists in the loss. Averaging close to 35 minutes per game in conference play, Gatens is responsible for 14.5 ppg thanks to an impressive 41.0 percent shooting behind the three-point line. White and Marble check in with 11.8 and 11.5 ppg, respectively, the former pulling down better than six rebounds per contest and converting 53.3 percent from the floor as he remains close to the rim much of the time.