Lickliter scoffs at notion of Iowa overlooking Michigan
Feb. 13, 2008
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa men's basketball team looks to halt a rare two-game losing skid when it hosts Michigan on Thursday with an 8:05 p.m. tip inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes (11-14 overall, 4-8 Big Ten) have won two of their last three games at home.
Michigan (6-17, 2-9) defeated Penn State, 68-63, on Feb. 9 to snap a six-game conference losing streak. Iowa won its only conference road game at Michigan, 68-60, on Jan. 19 and the Wolverines are 1-8 on the road this season.
UI head coach Todd Lickliter said that those facts will not lead to an overconfident batch of Hawkeyes on Valentine's Day.
"I don't see how in the world you would take a game lightly when you're in our situation and you know everyone in this league is capable," Lickliter said. "I can't imagine being anything other than 100 percent prepared and engaged."
Lickliter said that Michigan is playing well and shooting the ball well and the Wolverines are becoming more comfortable with first-year head coach John Beilein's system.
"It's obviously a big game," Lickliter said. "Michigan is coming off a win and we're coming off a loss in a game that was disappointing. We probably played with less purpose in that game than we had in awhile. I just wish we could be more consistent with our play."
The Hawkeyes lost at Minnesota, 63-50, on Feb. 9 in Minneapolis. Iowa used solid shooting to stay in the game, despite being out-rebounded 31-23 and committing 21 turnovers.
Michigan's Manny Harris is third in conference-only games with a 16.1 points per game scoring average. Iowa's Tony Freeman is fifth (15.1). Freeman is leading the league with 3.17 three-point field goals per game and teammate Cyrus Tate is tops in field goal percentage (36 of 52, .692). Ekpe Udoh of Michigan leads the Big Ten with 2.82 blocked shots per game.
With six regular-season games remaining, Lickliter was asked if the team would consider winning 15 games an accomplishment.
"I think where we're at, we're still trying to commit to playing the game a certain way and I think our goal should be to play the game the right way," Lickliter said. "What we need to do is continue to stress what that is, show it, and then encourage that we do that."
Michigan holds an 80-56 edge in the series that began in 1912. Iowa has won the last four meetings, matching its longest winning streak against the Wolverines since 1980-82. The game pits two coaches with recent experience in the NCAA Sweet 16. Beilein led West Virginia there in 2006 and Lickliter took Butler to the Sweet 16 a year ago.
For the season, Freeman leads Iowa in scoring (14.7 ppg), followed by Justin Johnson (13.1). Johnson has also sank a team-high 78 three-point field goals and is shooting 74.4 percent from the line. Kurt Looby is the Hawkeye leader in rebounds (5.5 per game) and blocked shots (36). Jeff Peterson has handed out 81 assists.
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