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Three things to know for IU men's basketball versus No. 20 Iowa


Then-freshman forward Justin Smith follows through after dunking the ball against Iowa on Feb. 17, 2018, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. The Hoosiers beat the Hawkeyes, 84-82. Evan De Stefano

What a difference a week makes.

Since defeating then-No. 6 Michigan State on Saturday night in East Lansing, Michigan the IU men’s basketball team has a new lease on its NCAA Tournament life.

The IU will play six of their final nine games at home, the first of which is Thursday against No. 20 Iowa.

Here are three things to know for the game:

1. Home sweet home

As dismal as the month of January was for IU, the team can take some solace in its abilities within the friendly confines of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. 

The Hoosiers are 10-2 on the season at home, while boasting a brutal 2-7 record on the road. 

The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, have played just five road games this season. They are 2-3 in those contests.

That said, Iowa is riding high after a 74-59 rout of then-No. 5 Michigan last Friday.

“They're coming off a good win against Michigan, and I feel like they're coming in with a chip on their shoulder, so I feel like we got to hold serve at home,” sophomore guard Al Durham said.

2. The Hawkeyes are an offensive juggernaut

Offensively, Iowa presents as potent an attack as any team IU has faced this season.

For one, the Hawkeyes are efficient. They rank third in the Big Ten in field goal percentage and fourth in made field goals.

They are also first in conference in points per game at 77.6.

Further, Iowa does much of its damage from behind the arc. The Hawkeyes have six players that average at least 2.5 3-point attempts per game. Additionally, all six of those players convert at least 34 percent of their shots.

If IU Coach Archie Miller’s bunch are to continue their winning ways, it will start on the defensive side of the ball.

3. Luka Garza and Tyler Cook can flat out score

While Iowa’s shooting is something to behold, its main contributors on the offensive side come in the form of junior and sophomore forwards Tyler Cook and Luka Garza.

Cook currently leads the team in scoring at 16.2 points per game along with 8.1 rebounds per contest.

As for Garza, he’s a 6-foot-11-inch beast in the paint, averaging 15.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.  

“He's got tremendous size, and he's got a really, really good game in terms of being able to score around the basket and also bring you away from the basket at times,” Miller said. “So to me, he's one of the most improved players in the league.”

Though Iowa has a knack for 3-point shooting, Garza and Cook do most of their work inside the line. The duo sits sit first and second on the team, respectively, in 2-point field goal attempts per game.

“They have a great one-two punch inside with Garza and Cook,” Miller said. “And they also have tremendous shooting and depth and one of the best offensive teams that we'll see all season.”

Tipoff is scheduled for 9 p.m. at Assembly Hall.

Correction: a previous version of this story referred to Al Durham as a forward. The IDS regrets this error.

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