Having endured a turbulent off-season, the 12-7 (4-4) Hawkeyes have used a limited bench, and a tremendous amount of hard work and hustle to exceed the expectations of what many fans, reporters and experts predicted to this point in the season.
Purdue, who lost 90-68 at Minnesota on Saturday slipped into a first place tie atop the standings at 7-2 with Michigan, who defeated Iowa 70-62 on Saturday afternoon. Wisconsin is just a half game behind the leaders at 7-3. Illinois is sitting alone in third place with a 6-3 record, while Minnesota is two games back of the leaders at 5-4. Iowa is currently in a tie for fifth place with Michigan State in the rough Big Ten Conference with a .500 record.
In the Hawkeyes 12 home games this season, Iowa is 8-4, and have outscored their opponents by an 879-762 margin, shooting 44.7% from the floor, while holding its opponents to 39.4% shooting. However, when the Hawkeyes take to the road the story is a little different. Iowa is 4-3 and have been outscored by their opponents 454-450. The Hawkeyes are still shooting rather well, as they are connecting of 44.1% of their shots, however, their opponents are shooting at a clip of 42.4%. Iowa is averaging 73.2 points per game at the friendly confines of Carver-Hawkeye Arena, while only averaging 64.3 points per game on the road.
A problem that the Hawkeyes have been struggling with of late is their opponents second half shooting. Iowa has done an excellent job in the first half of outscoring their opponents 639-559 in the first half. The Hawkeyes have led 16 times this season at halftime. However in the second half, Iowa is only outscoring their opponents 687-651, and have outscored their opponents in only 10 of the 19 games in the second half.
In the past five games, the Hawkeyes have struggled in the second half, giving up numerous transition baskets and allowing their opponents to shoot 60% or better from the floor in four out of those five games. Amazingly, Iowa has led at halftime in those four games, but have struggled defensively in the second half, and have lost all four contests.
6-11 junior center Jared Reiner has been sidelined for the past three games with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee. Reiner started Iowa's first 16 games before suffering the injury in the final minute of the Ohio State loss on January 25th.
The Tripp, SD native is averaging 8.1 points and a team high 8.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 48.8% from the floor and 75% from the free throw line. Reiner is also shooting a team best 13-14 (92.9%) from the free throw in the final four minutes and overtime of the games this season. Reiner currently leads the Big Ten in rebounding
6-3 freshman Jeff Horner has started all 19 games this season at point guard for the Hawkeyes. The Mason City, IA native, who is currently averaging 9.4 points per game, has scored in double figures nine times this season with a career high 17 points in the 80-77 overtime loss to Purdue on February 1st. Iowa is 6-3 in those nine games that Horner has scored in double figures. Horner currently leads the conference in assists (5.4) and is second in steals (1.9). Horner set a career high with eight assists in the Hawkeyes 68-63 win at Northwestern on January 8th. His assists-to-turnover ratio is currently fifth best at 1.8 assists to turnovers per game.
6-9 junior center Sean Sonderleiter has stepped up his game since the injury to Reiner. In the past three games, Sonderleiter has been averaging 14.6 points and seven rebounds per game. The 6-9 Des Moines native recorded his first scoring-rebound double-double in the Hawkeyes 75-55 win at Penn State on February 5th with career highs in both categories - 18 points and 11 rebounds.
6-1 senior guard Chauncey Leslie is currently leading the Hawkeyes in scoring at a clip of 16.1 points per game. Leslie has scored in double figures in 17 of the Hawkeyes' 19 games this season, with a career high 25 points in the 83-72 loss at home to Ohio State on January 25th. Leslie also recorded a career high nine rebounds in the game against the Buckeyes. The Rochester, NY native has led the Hawkeyes in scoring in nine games this season, with Iowa winning seven of those contests.
6-7 freshman combo Greg Brunner has struggled recently making the adjustment to the Big Ten schedule due to numerous bumps and bruises. However, Brunner is still averaging 8.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. The Charles City, IA native has led the Hawkeyes in rebounding five times this season. Brunner, who has started 17 of Iowa's 19 games this season, recorded a career high 18 points in the Hawkeyes 80-67 loss at Florida State on December 2nd. His 54.5% field goal percentage is fifth best in conference play.
5-11 junior guard Brody Boyd, earned a starting spot after logging a season high 38 minutes and scoring 16 points in the Hawkeyes 80-77 overtime loss to Purdue on February 1st. Boyd has since averaged 14.6 points per game, while shooting 8-17 (47%) from beyond the three point line. The Dugger, IN native recently moved into Iowa's top 10 in both career three point field goals (112) and career three point field goal attempts (310), ranking ninth in both categories. Boyd is currently tied for sixth in conference in three point field goal percentage at 33.3%, and is eighth in conference in three point field goals per game at 1.8.
6-7 junior combo forward Glen Worley is currently second on the team with 11.9 points per game. The Coralville, IA native scored a career high 29 points in the Hawkeyes 68-64 win over Michigan State on January 11th. In the win over the Spartans, Worley also set career highs in field goals made (10) and field goal attempts (16). Worley has scored in double figures in 11 games this season, with Iowa winning eight of those contests. Worley ahs also led the Hawkeyes in scoring on five occasions this season.
Iowa has eight games remaining before the start of the Big Ten Conference Tournament March 13th, with four games at home and four on the road. The Hawkeyes travel to Minnesota tonight before they return home for a very important three game home stand against Penn State (Feb. 15th), Indiana (Feb. 19th), and Wisconsin (Feb. 22nd). Those three teams are a combined 11-16 in Big Ten play this season, and have gone 2-11 on the road in conference play. Iowa is currently 8-4 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena this season.
The Hawkeyes will then take to the road for their second three game swing of the conference season, starting at Ohio State (Feb. 25th), Indiana (Mar. 1st), and concluding at Michigan State (Mar. 5th). Those three teams are a combined 11-3 on their respected home courts this season.
Iowa will then wrap up their Big Ten season with the team they started the conference season with, as they return home to host Northwestern on March 8th.