- Teresa Mathew/Daily
By Simon Kaufman, Daily Sports Writer
Published February 6, 2014
Two and a half weeks ago, the Michigan men’s basketball team took care of Iowa at home — its second consecutive win as part of a three-game sweep of top-10 teams, which included Wisconsin and Michigan State.
Saturday, the Wolverines will head to Iowa City for the rematch against the 17th-ranked Hawkeyes in hopes of securing a conference-best 10th win.
Michigan (9-1 Big Ten, 17-5 overall) is coming off a 29-point clobbering of Nebraska, bouncing back from its first Big Ten loss to Indiana earlier in the week. Saturday’s matchup features a more talented Wolverine team against a Hawkeye team that has been dominant at home. Iowa (6-4, 17-6) has dropped just two games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena this season — an overtime loss to Michigan State and a seven-point defeat to Ohio State on Tuesday.
When Michigan and Iowa met earlier this season, forwards Aaron White and Melsahn Basabe kept the Hawkeyes in the game, each contributing 17 points. The two average 13.3 and 7.8 points per game, respectively, to complement an average of more than six rebounds apiece.
But Iowa’s biggest offensive threat this year has been guard Roy Devyn Marble. The 6-foot-6 senior is averaging 16 points per game this season on 41-percent shooting from the field. At Crisler Center though, he was held to just 13 points. Sophomore guard Caris LeVert played tough defense on him, forcing him to shoot just 3-for-9 from the field.
“Iowa’s one of the top teams in our league,” LeVert said. “To go in there and get a road win would be huge for us.”
The Wolverines will count on their sharp shooting from Wednesday night’s win over Nebraska to carry over against the Hawkeyes. Michigan shot 46.6 percent in their previous contest against Iowa, including eight 3-pointers.
Sophomore guard Nik Stauskas led the charge in the first matchup. Stauskas tied a career-high with 26 points taking advantage of extra space to shoot when Hawkeye defenders laid off, and attacking the rim when they overplayed him.
This season, Stauskas has been touted as a player that doesn’t just shoot — he’s also been able to get points in the paint, something he didn’t do with consistency a season ago. Wednesday night he showed he could contribute in other ways. The 6-foot-6 guard dished a career-best eight assists, setting up teammates while he opted out of shooting, attempting just three shots. On Saturday though, Stauskas will likely be a bigger part of the scoring in what should be a much more competitive game.
And Michigan coach John Beilein knows it will be a tough matchup. Despite coming off of a big win, Beilein knows there’s no such thing as an easy game in the Big Ten.
“Where are the games on the schedule where you can say ‘W’?” Beilein said. “Where are they? I don't see them. I see there’s another game that we’re gonna have to compete like crazy.”