Hawkeyes prepare to face Terrapins on the road

Iowa dominated Maryland at home earlier this month, but a road matchup proves to be a tougher test.


Hawkeyes head coach Fran McCaffrey reacts to a call during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Nebraska at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln on Tuesday, January 7th. The Hawkeyes fell to the Huskers 76-70.

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor


When Iowa faced Maryland last, things worked out perfectly for the Hawkeyes.

The Hawkeyes shut the Terrapin offense down, as they held Maryland to its second-lowest scoring output of the season for a 67-49 victory in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 10.

It won’t be that easy on Thursday.

Iowa has to travel to College Park to face the Terrapins at the Xfinity Center where Maryland holds an 11-0 record.

“They’ve essentially been unbeatable at home,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “They’ve got two really good road wins [over Northwestern and Indiana] since we played them… They’re a talented group.”

Maryland only ranks ninth in the Big Ten in scoring, but its offense features two players that rank among the best in the conference in points per game.

Anthony Cowan ranks seventh in the conference, and Jalen Smith sits at eighth, as they average 15.5 and 15.2 points, respectively.

But they didn’t reach those marks when they traveled to Iowa City last.

Smith scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds, while Cowan dropped nine on 2-of-10 shooting.

The duo has found its way back to putting up big numbers on the box score once again.

Smith scored 29 and 25 in Maryland’s past two games — both wins — and Cowan netted 18 and 12.

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Cowan has recorded 20 points on five separate occasions this season, including a 30-point performance against Temple on Nov. 28.

Throw in his ability to make plays dishing the ball, and Iowa will have its hands full.

“You got to keep people in front of him, and he’s pretty tough one-on-one,” McCaffery said. “We tried to be aware of where he is, be aware of him in transition, and kind of keep people to where they’re in front of him and contest.”

McCaffery also noted how Smith impressed him against Indiana, mentioning his ability to shoot from beyond the arc and post up.

Smith garnered 29 points and 11 rebounds against the Hoosiers and shot 4-of-6 from 3-point range.

“He’s been dominant from Day 1,” McCaffery said. “He’s playing, I think, with really good energy. And they’re going to him — I think that’s always good, especially for a player’s confidence.”

The presence of Cowan and Smith will force Iowa to be at the top of its game on the defensive end.

While the Hawkeyes rank only 13th in the Big Ten in scoring defense, they’ve shown recently that they can lock in when they need to.

Iowa found itself facing an 11-point deficit with under seven minutes remaining against Wisconsin on Monday. Then, it closed the game on a 22-5 run.

The grittiness the Hawkeyes showed in the comeback is the same trait they show when they need to come together to shut a team down.

“It starts at the point of attack,” McCaffery said. “I think Joe Toussaint has been a big part of it, but I also think the back end of it is really important.

“I think Luka Garza’s defense this year is not something anybody talks about, but it’s very good. It’s become a critical part of his game. He protects the rim in a lot of ways, and so does [Ryan] Kriener, and so does Cordell [Pemsl] when he’s in there. I think there’s a level of toughness with Joe Wieskamp, and Connor [McCaffery], and CJ [Fredrick] that is critical, especially coming down the stretch.”