Hawkeyes head to Syracuse for ACC/Big Ten Challenge

A hostile environment and a 2-3 zone await the Hawkeyes in their matchup against Syracuse on Tuesday.

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Hawkeyes head to Syracuse for ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon shoots a 3-pointer during the men's basketball game against Lindsey Wilson College at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Monday, November 4, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Blue Raiders 96-58. Bohannon made his first attempted 3-pointer of the season.

Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon shoots a 3-pointer during the men's basketball game against Lindsey Wilson College at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Monday, November 4, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Blue Raiders 96-58. Bohannon made his first attempted 3-pointer of the season.

Katina Zentz

Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon shoots a 3-pointer during the men's basketball game against Lindsey Wilson College at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Monday, November 4, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Blue Raiders 96-58. Bohannon made his first attempted 3-pointer of the season.

Katina Zentz

Katina Zentz

Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon shoots a 3-pointer during the men's basketball game against Lindsey Wilson College at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Monday, November 4, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Blue Raiders 96-58. Bohannon made his first attempted 3-pointer of the season.

Robert Read, Assistant Sports Editor

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After facing No. 12 Texas Tech and undefeated San Diego State in the Las Vegas Invitational last week, the Iowa men’s basketball team has very little time before tipping off against another quality non-conference opponent.

Iowa returned to Iowa City around 2 a.m. on Nov. 30 from its trip to Las Vegas and now travels across the country again. The Hawkeyes take on Syracuse in New York on Tuesday as a part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Syracuse sits at 4-3 on the year and is fresh off of blowout losses to Oklahoma State and Penn State. Regardless of record, the Orange always present a challenge.

“They’re always going to be very good,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “They’ve got really good players, a Hall of Fame coach. Great crowds. It’s a situation where we have got to be ready to compete. I thought we competed well in Las Vegas, and we’ll need the same effort against Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.”

Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim is famous for the 2-3 zone defense he has implemented.

While other programs try to imitate that style of defensive play, no team runs it like Syracuse. The Orange often make teams look lost offensively, confused as to how to penetrate the zone.

Attacking that zone is an emphasis for the Hawkeyes.

“They are going to play the zone,” McCaffery said. “It’s a challenge for a team to attack. The players that he recruits fit that style, both offensively and defensively. They play it all the time, and they’ve got really good chemistry with each other.

“They’re physical inside. They’ve got shot-blockers. They’ll trap you in different situations. Sometimes it looks like they are standing around, but really more it’s an active, physical, intense defense. You’ve got to be able to mix it up, some 3-point shooting, some penetration, getting it inside.”

Bohannon continues to show progress

Iowa played back-to-back games for the first time this season during the team’s trip to Las Vegas.

Against Texas Tech, Bohannon scored a season-high 20 points and connected on four 3-pointers. In Iowa’s second game of the road trip against San Diego State, Bohannon was not as effective.

The Aztecs held Bohannon scoreless in the first half and to only three points the entire game. Bohannon took only four shots against San Diego State and took no trips to the free-throw line.

Bohannon may be back in the starting lineup against Syracuse, and McCaffery wants to emphasize getting his sharpshooter the ball.

“I think the way [San Diego State] played him, we’ve got to do a better job screening for him,” McCaffery said. “They were doubling him, trying to get the ball out of his hands. I thought he played well in that sense; you don’t want to force anything. We’ve got to do a better job of getting him more shots.”

Patrick McCaffery update

Iowa forward Patrick McCaffery is still out as he continues to battle health issues related to the thyroid cancer he was diagnosed with in 2014.

The 6-foot-9 freshman played in Iowa’s first two games, but he has not suited up since.

There is currently no timetable for his return.

“He’s feeling OK,” Fran McCaffery said. “We’re still working through the stuff he’s been through, and trying to figure out how best to maximize his opportunity. He’s seeing a lot of different people, and he will continue to do so. It’s a lengthy process for him. It’s a different type of journey.

“I think he’s handled it very well. He’s in a good place mentally. He’s been real positive. He was a great teammate out in Vegas. I know it was hard for him not to play. He’ll get there.”

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