Hawkeyes hope to avoid upset in clash with visiting Knights

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Updated: 12/09/2013 10:34 am

Iowa City, IA (SportsNetwork.com) - The Iowa Hawkeyes will try to continue their hot start to the season, as they welcome the Knights of Fairleigh Dickinson to town for tonight's non-conference tussle.

FDU has stumbled through the first month or so, losing eight of its 11 games, the bulk of which have taken place away from its home court. The Knights are in the midst of a two-game skid, with their most recent setback occurring at Princeton on Saturday, 77-55. The team also had a lengthy six-game losing streak earlier in the season, but broke out of it with back-to-back wins over major conference foes from within the Garden State -- Rutgers and Seton Hall.

Iowa brings a 9-1 record into this contest, and the team is coming off an 83-66 win over Drake on Saturday. That was the second straight triumph for the Hawkeyes, who suffered their lone loss to Villanova in overtime in the championship game in the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 30. Iowa is 6-0 at home this season, and has yet to play a true road game -- that is until it takes on bitter rival Iowa State in Ames this Friday.

This bout marks the first-ever meeting between these two schools in men's basketball.

Fairleigh Dickinson has had difficulty at both ends of the court this season, averaging 64.2 ppg in hitting 41 percent of its field goal attempts, while giving up 75.4 ppg, with foes hitting their shots at a 45 percent clip. The Knights are being manhandled on the glass, sporting a -10.1 rebounding margin, but they are on the plus-side of things with regard to turnovers (+1.0). Despite his team's struggles, Sidney Sanders, Jr. is having a highly productive campaign, netting 18.9 ppg while also keeping his teammates involved with 5.2 apg. Mustafa Jones (10.1 ppg) is the club's only other double-digit scorer, and he is by far its most efficient 3-point shooter (29- of-64).

Sanders, Jr. was the only one to hit for double figures in the recent loss at Princeton, going 7-of-14 from the floor and 8-of-12 at the foul line to finish with 23 points. Unfortunately, he only dished out one assist, the team logging a mere four helpers on 19 total field goals, while the Tigers were credited with 16 assists in addition to a 43-28 rebounding differential.

Iowa's strength in the early part of this season has been its ability to light up the scoreboard nearly at will. The team averages a gaudy 89.3 ppg, doing so behind typical shooting outputs of .467 overall, .369 from 3-point range, and .745 from the free-throw line. While the offense has certainly opened some eyes, the team's defensive effort has been on point as well, yielding a mere 64.7 ppg in limiting the opposition to just 36.4 percent field goal efficiency, which includes a 25.8 percent showing from beyond the arc. Add favorable margins in both rebounding (+8.9) and turnovers (+4.5), and it's not difficult to see why the Hawkeyes have gotten off to such a terrific start. Roy Devyn Marble (16.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.7 apg, 2.4 spg) highlights three double-digit scorers for coach Fran McCaffery's club, with help coming from Aaron White (13.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.4 apg) and Jarrod Uthoff (10.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 17 blocks), the latter of whom serves as UI's top reserve.

Melsahn Basabe scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Hawkeyes to their recent win over Drake. Marble and Peter Jok tacked on 14 points apiece, and Uthoff finished with 13 points and nine boards for Iowa, which struggled from 3-point land (3-of-18) while allowing the Bulldogs significant success there (12-of-29). The Hawkeyes easily won the rebounding battle (47-28), while also laying claim to a substantial 22-8 edge in points from the charity stripe.

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