Hawks, Cyclones to meet in Iowa City

For the first time since at least the mid-2000s, both Iowa and

Iowa State head into their annual December matchup with legitimate

NCAA tournament expectations.

Those postseason hopes will take a hit for the loser of Friday

night’s showdown in Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes (7-2) and Cyclones (6-2) each have lost to the two

best teams they’ve played; Iowa to No. 24 Wichita State and

Virginia Tech, and Iowa State to No. 11 Cincinnati and No. 21

UNLV.

Each team could use a quality nonconference win before league

play starts. What better way to grab one at the expense of your

rival?

”It’s going to be fun. We’ve got to go out there and be ready.

We’ve got to go out there and play very intense basketball, because

I know they’re going to be ready,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg

said.

Iowa State has incorporated a new small forward, Will Clyburn,

and a new point guard in senior Korie Lucious. Clyburn has been

everything the Cyclones hoped, with a team-high 16.1 points per

game along with 8.4 rebounds.

Slowly but surely, Lucious is finding his way with the Cyclones

as well.

Lucious, a key cog in Final Four teams at Michigan State before

transferring to Iowa State, needed a nine-assist performance

against BYU just to bring his assist-to-turnover ratio even. He had

nine more assists Tuesday night in an 83-72 win over Florida Gulf

Coast to go along with a season-high 17 points and 5-of-7 shooting

from 3-point range.

”He did a good job, I thought, of spreading the ball around for

the most part. At times, he’s still trying to go between his legs

too many times or make a home run pass. And he’s just got to trust

his teammates,” Hoiberg said.

Iowa is also trying to settle its point guard situation.

Freshman Mike Gesell was given the reigns to start the season.

But after notching just two assists in losses to the Shockers and

Hokies, coach Fran McCaffery started fellow freshman Anthony

Clemmons at the point and shifted Gesell to shooting guard on

Tuesday night

Clemmons responded with eight assists and no turnovers in an

87-63 win over South Dakota, and Gesell had 12 points on 5-of-11

shooting.

”Right now it looks like that’s a good move,” McCaffery said.

”Gesell will play a ton of (point guard). But he is such a good

scorer, and he’s so good off the ball. We’re playing him both

places.”

Iowa State broke a seven-year NCAA tournament drought last

season, advancing to the third round before losing to eventual

national champion Kentucky. Iowa is hoping to snap its seven-year

drought with an NCAA bid this spring.

Fans on both sides of this rivalry have long pegged Friday night

as the first time since perhaps 2006 – when Iowa reached the NCAA

tournament and Iowa State was expected to – that there would be

more than simple bragging rights on the line.

But a loss would qualify as yet another squandered opportunity

for each team – and it’s never too early to start building a resume

for March.

”We’ve got to do a good job with our preparation these next few

days getting ready. They play multiple defenses. They’ve got some

good young players and their older players have really stepped

up,” Hoiberg said.

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