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NCAAB: Rested Iowa bids to get back in Big Ten race vs. Indiana

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Iowa used a week off to address its perceived weaknesses ahead of the grind of the remainder of the Big Ten schedule.

The Hawkeyes (11-4, 1-3) will look to get back in the conference race on Thursday when they host Indiana in Iowa City, Iowa.

Iowa is coming off an 87-78 loss at then-No. 23Wisconsin last Thursday.

The Hawkeyes are the top scoring team in the Big Ten at 86.7 points per game, however they have been unable to get stops on defense. They rank 13th in the conference in field goal percentage defense (42.9 percent) and 13th in scoring defense.

“(The defense) has not been consistent as it needs to be,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.

The game will feature two of the top players in the Big Ten.

Iowa forward Keegan Murray leads the Big Ten in scoring (24.7 points per game), while Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis ranks fifth in the conference in both scoring (19.4) and rebounding (8.7), and second in blocked shots (3.0).

“I’ve been really impressed with them,” McCaffery said. “They’re deep, and I think Trayce is playing at an all-American level.”

Indiana (12-3, 3-2) is seeking its first road win of the season. The Hoosiers have started 0-3 on the road, losing games at Syracuse, Wisconsin and Penn State by a combined total of just 10 points.

“We’ve got to break the ice on the road,” Indiana coach Mike Woodson said. “I think once we break through, it’ll open up a lot of these guys’ hearts to know that we’re here to play and compete in the Big Ten. But you’ve got to win on the road, too. You can’t lose at home, but you’ve got to figure out how to win on the road.”

Woodson said he’s concerned about Iowa’s offense and tempo. The Hawkeyes rank third in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom. Indiana ranks first in the conference and second in the nation in field goal percentage defense (35.3 percent) and has allowed an average of just 55.5 points over its past two games.

“When you put a system in place defensively, first of all, you’ve just got to get guys to commit and buy in,” Woodson said. “I’m not saying that our defense and our system is the best defense out there. It’s just what I believe in. No matter who you coach or what team it is, you’ve got to get players to buy into what you’re doing.”

–Field Level Media

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