Iowa City, IA (Sports Network) - The Indiana Hoosiers' first true road game of the season also happens to be their Big Ten Conference opener, as they spend New Year's Eve tangling with the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Indiana, which had ruled the land as the No. 1 team for the first month and change of the 2012-13 campaign, brings a 12-1 record into its league lidlifter, and the team is riding a three-game win streak since suffering its lone defeat versus Butler in overtime on Dec. 15. During their current run of success, the Hoosiers have blasted the likes of Mount St. Mary's, Florida Atlantic and Jacksonville by an average of 36.3 ppg. This is the first of two straight IU will play away from home, and the team will play just nine true road games this season.
Iowa has had similar success to its counterpart today, posting an 11-2 record for its best start since the 2004-05 season. However, the Hawkeyes haven't beaten many teams that anyone would consider to be of high quality, save for perhaps Iowa State (80-71). Still, you can only play the games laid in front of you so there is reason for UI fans to be excited as they hope their beloved teams' non-conference mark is a precursor of things to come. The Hawkeyes are riding a six-game win streak, with their latest victory coming in an 80-50 rout of Coppin State.
Indiana owns a 95-74 advantage in the all-time series with Iowa, but the Hawkeyes won the last meeting, 78-66, on Feb. 19, 2012.
Indiana leads all Division I teams in scoring (89.4 ppg), and its 30.2 scoring margin is also tops in the nation. Add one of the country's best field goal percentages (.520), 3-point percentages (.421) and rebounding margins (+13.2) to a defensive effort that allows just 59.2 ppg on typical shooting outputs of .364 overall and .306 from beyond the arc and it's not surprising to see the Hoosiers having the kind of success they are to this point. Cody Zeller (16.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 17 blocks) continues to pace the club in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots, and he is joined by highly-productive teammates Victor Oladipo (13.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg), Christian Watford (12.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg), Will Sheehy (12.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and Jordan Hulls (11.8 ppg, 3.8 apg) to give coach Tom Crean one of the most talented core groups in the nation. In their final non-conference game of the regular season, which also put the wraps on a lengthy eight-game homestand, the Hoosiers blew out Jacksonville, 93-59. Hulls paced the team with 20 points, while Zeller added 16, Oladipo and Sheehy each had 14 and Watford chipped in with 11 for an Indiana squad that drained 11-of-25 3-points attempts while shooting 50.9 percent from the field overall. A 24-5 edge in points from the foul line was also key, as was the fact that the Dolphins committed 20 turnovers.
While Iowa doesn't have the kind of impressive stats Indiana does, the Hawkeyes have performed well this season, relying on a pair of double-digit scorers as they go in search of their first seven-game winning streak since 2004. Roy Devyn Marble (15.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.9 apg) and Aaron White (13.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg) have been productive players for coach Fran McCaffery's club, which averages 76.9 ppg while permitting just 61.2 ppg. Further evidence that UI is enjoying a banner year is the fact that the team ranks first in the Big Ten in 3-point FG percentage defense (.278) and third in overall FG percentage defense (.367). White was high man for the Hawkeyes in their 30-point win over Coppin State, as he was a near-perfect 7-of-8 from the field in netting 20 points. Gabriel Olaseni came off the bench to contribute 14 points and seven rebounds, while Marble tacked on 11 points. As a team, Iowa made good on 51.7 percent of its total shots, but missed every one of its 17 3-point attempts and converted only 18-of-31 free throws. The Hawkeyes were also guilty of 20 turnovers, but were fortunate in that the Eagles were just as careless (19 miscues) while shooting a dismal 29.2 percent from the floor. Iowa dominated the low post, easily winning the rebounding battle (54-29) while outscoring CSU in the paint (50-16).