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On the Road Again: Hawkeyes Face Gophers in Hump Day Showdown

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Both teams are 3-13, yuck

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

If it’s felt like a month since the Iowa Hawkeyes (12-17, 3-13) have won a game, it’s because their last win was in January. Against these Minnesota Golden Gophers (14-15, 3-13).

It’s been even worse for Minnesota, whose last win was January 15th against Penn State. They’ve lost nine straight games to Iowa’s five. They’ve lost two of their best players amid scandal (Reggie Lynch) and injury (Amir Coffey) on their way to an even more disappointing season than Iowa, as they started the season ranked 15th by the AP.

The main men to know remain Jordan Murphy and Nate Mason. In the first matchup, Iowa struggled with Murphy’s activity on the boards as he had 10 defensive and 7 offensive to spur his 21 points. While yielding 17 boards is not ideal, it was more a function of Iowa playing the game from 10 points ahead throughout much of the second half. It would be nice to see them hit the offensive boards a little better this time around.

Iowa did a good job containing Nate Mason, as he scored only 7 points on 2-13 shooting. He only had 3 assists, as Iowa forced him to be a shoot-first point guard. Can they get away with a similar gameplan at The Barn? We’ll see.

The same tenants exist as last game for Iowa to win this one - limit the three, play from ahead, and find a spark - but a couple weaknesses emerged in the last matchup.

Play smart: Iowa found themselves in rare foul trouble, as both Tyler Cook and Luka Garza finished with 4 fouls in trying to contain Murphy on the boards. Iowa needs to be much more positionally sound defensively (unlikely) and when rebounding (more likely). Both Cook and Garza have shown to be very good at crashing the glass but need to lean on boxing out versus straight athleticism.

Offensively, they took the issue straight to the Gophers’ frontline. Murphy found himself in foul trouble throughout much of the first half, while Bakary Konate and Davonte Fitzgerald matched the Hawkeye big men, foul-wise. They’ll need to carry over the mindset offensively to have a chance in this game.

Perimeter scoring: We’ve asked this question time and again - is there anyone out there to supplement the scoring load for Jordan Bohannon. After restarting conference play by averaging 18 points over nine games, Bohannon has averaged just 9.6 during Iowa’s five-game losing streak. Not only does he need to pick it up, but Iowa needs help from Isaiah Moss or Maishe Dailey to lessen the load, as Bo has been hounded since of late.

Defense, I guess: Iowa’s re-comeback against Indiana was spurred by a huge lineup of Bohannon, Nicholas Baer, Ahmad Wagner, Tyler Cook, and Ryan Kriener. Was it perfect? No - it was incredibly limited offensively. But Wagner did an excellent job hounding Robert Johnson sank his ninth three. Why did it take nine to make the move? You know the saying: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me nine times, maybe we can change our defense.”

Anyways, find five guys who are gonna try, if you need to. Iowa’s held only one opponent to less than one point per possession in conference play (Wisconsin) so expecting that to be replicated is a fool’s errand. But there are options at Fran’s disposal to turn up the screws if the defense is out of hand.