Jan. 24, 2014
By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- When the No. 10/10 University of Iowa men's basketball team takes the floor Saturday at Northwestern, UI head coach Fran McCaffery is expecting a bounce back.
"If you look at teams that have won the championship, they're teams that haven't lost back-to-back games... there haven't been losing streaks," McCaffery said during a Friday media teleconference. "They might lose, but they typically bounce back.
"That's what you want to do. Anytime you get beat, you want to learn from it and bounce back. That's what we're going to try to do."
Iowa has turned its fortunes following each of its first three losses this season. The Hawkeyes downed Notre Dame, 98-93, after suffering its first loss to Villanova in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Iowa blasted Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 86-61, following a road loss at Iowa State and handled Northwestern, 93-67, following setback at Wisconsin.
After losing 75-67 at No. 21/25 Michigan on Wednesday, the Wildcats stand in the middle of Iowa's path again Saturday, but it's a different Northwestern squad than the Hawkeyes faced 15 days ago in Iowa City.
"They've won 3-of-4 games," said McCaffery. "One was at Indiana, a tough place to play, and they played well (in a loss) against Michigan State -- a game they could have easily won. You're seeing a team that is really competing."
Northwestern limped out of Iowa City following a 25-point loss on Jan. 9 with a 7-9 overall and 0-3 Big Ten record. Since then, the Wildcats have won 3-of-4; downing No. 23 Illinois (49-43) on Jan. 12, winning 54-47 over Indiana on Jan. 18 in Assembly Hall and out-lasting Purdue, 63-60, in double overtime Jan. 21. The lone loss was to the fourth-ranked Spartans, 54-40, in Evanston.
"They've committed to shutting people down, playing together, rebounding and limiting your opportunities," said McCaffery. "In terms of offense, they're a little more patient than they were (when we played the first time). They're doing what they need to do to be in a position to win."
Junior Aaron White has been a second-half star for the Hawkeyes in the last two games, scoring 18 points in the final 20 minutes in a victory over Minnesota and 16 points in the second half at Michigan. In the first halves of those games, White was credited with a single point.
McCaffery isn't worried about White's slow starts, saying he has faith in the junior to be able to figure out how to get involved from the on-set.
"I don't tell him, `You turned down two shots, you should shoot the ball,'" said McCaffery. "I let him decide when he wants to shoot. He has the green light, so he can shoot whenever he wants. He'll figure it out and I trust him to do so."
Saturday's game is slated to begin at 11:06 a.m. (CT) from Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network with Josh Lewin and Mike Kelley on the call.