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Big Four Classic: 5 things to know about each team

[ 0 ] December 14, 2012 |

The first Hy-Vee Big Four Classic will be held at Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday afternoon. At 1:30 p.m., the Iowa-Northern Iowa game will be televised by the Big Ten Network. At 4 p.m., the Iowa State-Drake game will be televised by Mediacom (channel 22).

Register reporters who are covering Saturday’s event will host a live chat during both games on Saturday. Join the discussion at DesMoinesRegister.com.

The Register’s Rick Brown, Mark Emmert and Randy Peterson break down the teams below:

==== IOWA HAWKEYES (8-2) ====

Iowa’s statistical leaders – Aaron White 14.1 ppg; White 6.5 rpg; Anthony Clemmons 3.4 apg.

— Freshman point guard Anthony Clemmons has 21 assists to two turnovers since he was inserted in the starting lineup three games ago. He’s currently 15th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.8).

— Aaron White has been to the free-throw line 70 times this season, 34 more than any teammate. The sophomore forward leads the Big Ten in free throws attempted and average attempts per game (7.0).

— The Hawkeyes have been inconsistent from 3-point distance, shooting just 30.4 percent. That ranks 10th in the Big Ten. Iowa has not made more than eight triples in a game this season.

— Iowa ranks third in the Big Ten in 3-point defense at 28.9 percent. That will be tested against a Northern Iowa team that is 15th nationally in 3-pointers made (8.9 per game) and has three games with 11 or more.

— Iowa has made more free throws (183) than opponents have attempted (176) and ranks second in the Big Ten in free-throw accuracy (73.8 percent). The Panthers are 12th nationally in free-throw accuracy at 77.4 percent and 16th in fewest fouls committed per game (14.2).

— Rick Brown


Statistical leaders: Deon Mitchell 12.5 ppg, 4.0 apg, Jake Koch 6.3 rpg.

— Iowa has had success when pressing opponents this year. The Panthers had 22 turnovers against a Louisville press earlier in the season, but have been getting better. The key will be how post players like Jake Koch and Seth Tuttle are able to help handle the ball on the back end.

— Tuttle, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, has rebounded from three poor outings in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament to average 14.3 points in three subsequent victories. Saturday he’ll be matching up with Hawkeye 7-1 freshman Adam Woodbury for the first time. Will Tuttle be up to the challenge?

— Mitchell has been eased back into the lineup the past two games after sitting out with a bruised heel. Will he be healthy enough to exploit Iowa freshman point guard Anthony Clemmons?

— It has taken several games for the Panthers’ bench rotation to sort itself out. Max Martino has been seeing more minutes on the wing because of his size (6-5) and defensive ability.

— The Hawkeyes started fast in a victory over Iowa State last Friday, and will be hungering to avenge a 20-point loss last year in Cedar Falls. The Panthers have been battle-tested, but will have to find a way to weather that inevitable initial burst out of Iowa.

— Mark Emmert

==== IOWA STATE CYCLONES (7-3) ====

Statistical leaders: Will Clyburn 14.0 ppg, Melvin Ejim 9.1 rpg, Korie Lucious 5.3 apg.

— Which Korie Lucious shows up, the point guard that had 7 assists and 7 turnovers against Iowa last week, or the one that honors possessions with pin-point passes to opponents?

— Iowa State should dominate the boards. The Cyclones have out-rebounded opponents by 11.2 a game, while Drake has been out-rebounded by just more than four per contest.

— It could be interesting if Iowa State’s Will Clyburn and Drake’s Chris Hines get one-on-one. They were roommates at Utah before transferring to their respective schools.

— Who starts? Georges Niang and Percy Gibson started in place of Melvin Ejim and Anthony Booker last week against Nebraska-Omaha. Look for at least Ejim to start Saturday.

— Cyclone defensive stopper Chris Babb’s next task will be Ben Simons, Drake’s top scorer at 15.5 points a game. Babb usually gets assigned the other team’s top offensive player.

–Randy Peterson

==== DRAKE BULLDOGS (4-4) ====

Statistical leaders: Ben Simons 15.5 ppg, Jordan Clarke 9.8 rpg, Richard Carter 4.4 apg.

— Can the Bulldogs own the arc? Drake is sixth in the nation, making 9.4 3-pointers per game, but Iowa State is fourth at 9.6. When the Bulldogs win, it’s often because they enjoy a sizable edge from distance, making 28 more than opponents so far.

— Toward that end, is Ben Simons due for a breakout game for Drake? He leads the team at 15.5 points per game, but has seemed more passive on the offensive end. He had 24 in a win over the Cyclones last year.

— Drake is a subpar rebounding team, outside of Clarke. In order to not get buried by Iowa State, the Bulldogs will need Jordan Clarke to provide his usual double-digit effort, plus the trio of backcourt starters to average five apiece.

— The Bulldogs are playing at a faster pace this year, but that could play into the hands of the Cyclones, who also prefer a quicker tempo. Drake has had 30 turnovers in its past two games, and can’t afford to get careless Saturday.

— If the game is close late, can Drake hit its free throws? The Bulldogs are shooting just 66 percent from the line, and teams have been targeting Clarke, a 47-percent shooter. Even point guard Carter is hitting only 58 percent. The Bulldogs will need to do better.

— Mark Emmert


Register reporters who are covering Saturday’s event will host a live chat during both games on Saturday. Join the discussion at DesMoinesRegister.com.


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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball

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