Iowa Out to Forge Its Identity - Hawkeye Sports Official Athletic Site
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Iowa Out to Forge Its Identity
Top 25 matchup on deck in Madison; No. 22/23 Iowa vs. No. 4/5 Wisconsin
Sophomore Jarrod Uthoff and the Hawkeyes will play at No. 4/5 Wisconsin on Sunday in Madison.
Sophomore Jarrod Uthoff and the Hawkeyes will play at No. 4/5 Wisconsin on Sunday in Madison.
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Jan. 3, 2014




By JAMES ALLAN
hawkeyesports.com

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Sunday's top 25 matchup at No. 4/5 Wisconsin will give the University of Iowa men's basketball team a chance to forge its identity.

"It's an opportunity to see where we are," UI head coach Fran McCaffery said during a Friday media teleconference. "Playing the fourth-ranked team on the road, in a hostile environment, will identify who we are, if we can play against a good team and if we can consistently compete to where we can win that game.

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"If you can win, it has great impact on how you're viewed, what your abilities are to win a championship, and what your resume is moving forward. You don't want to make too much out of it if you win or lose because we have more opportunities like this coming, and so does Wisconsin."

The Badgers enter the weekend as one of seven teams nationally without a loss, bringing a 14-0 overall and 1-0 Big Ten record into the 7:06 p.m. (CT) matchup inside the Kohl Center. Wisconsin opened league play with a 76-49 win at Northwestern on Jan. 2.





"If you can win, it has great impact on how you're viewed, what your abilities are to win a championship, and what your resume is moving forward. You don't want to make too much out of it if you win or lose because we have more opportunities like this coming, and so does Wisconsin."
UI head coach Fran McCaffery


The Badgers are one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the Big Ten, ranking first in 3-point field goal percentage (39.2) and second in 3-point makes (8.3) per game. Four Wisconsin starters average double figures with forward Sam Dekker's 14.5 points leading the way.

"They have five scorers, five 3-point shooters," said McCaffery. "They're all good passers (too). Their assist-to-turnover numbers are just as impressive as their 3-point shooting. That means they're sharing the ball and they give it up to each other."

McCaffery says the team that wins the rebounding battle will likely be the one in position to leave the court victorious. Wisconsin is plus 5.3 on the glass (35.1-29.8); Iowa is plus 9 (44.3-35.3).

"Anybody that is going to beat Wisconsin has to rebound," he said. "They're starting three guards and (Frank) Kaminsky is a jump-shooting center, but they rebound phenomenal. They rebound and find each other, and a lot of times, they make 3s off those situations."

Wisconsin has won 10-of-the-last 11 meetings over Iowa at the Kohl Center, but the Hawkeyes have played well in Madison under McCaffery. Iowa won 72-65 in 2011 before falling 74-70 in double overtime last season.

"We've played well in those games, and we locked in to their style of play and tried to figure out how our style could be effective in that environment," said McCaffery. "There isn't anything overly scientific to it.

"We've played hard, tough, and gone into the game respecting what they do and how they do it."

Sophomore Jarrod Uthoff's return to Madison will be "the" storyline heading into the game, but McCaffery doesn't think Uthoff's reception with the Wisconsin fans will play much of a factor. Uthoff began his career at Wisconsin and redshirted before transferring to Iowa prior to the 2012-13 season.

"Anytime you go on the road, it's difficult," he said. "In Jarrod's situation, (the fans) don't impact the game or how he's going to perform. They're going to yell at him, but they can't come out and defend him.

"I am more concerned about how we handle their runs and how their crowd gets into the game than how they yell at Jarrod Uthoff."

McCaffery doesn't expect Uthoff to play with any additional passion against his former team.

"I would hope he'd bring the same fire every game," said McCaffery. "It don't know why there would be any extra. I'd like to think he'd play the same against Nebraska, Wisconsin, Northwestern and right on down the line."

Sunday's game will be televised on the Big Ten Network with Brian Anderson and Mike Kelley on the call.

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