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COLUMBUS, Ohio - What we have here are two Top Ten teams in foul moods.
Within hours of each other Thursday night, Iowa men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery and Ohio State counterpart Chris Holtmann combined to get three technical fouls.
McCaffery had one in the first half of the No. 9 Hawkeyes' 79-57 loss at No. 3 Michigan. He didn't stop questioning the officials after that, but saw the game to its finish.
Holtmann had two and was ejected in the No. 4 Buckeyes' 71-67 defeat at Michigan State. It gave OSU its first two-game losing streak of the season.
It's late February, and it was a frustrating night for two coaches and their teams. That frustration will only mount for someone Sunday at 3 p.m. (CBS) at Value City Arena when the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes clash.
Neither coach was deflecting blame to officiating after the game. Iowa had no case to do so, having absorbed its most one-sided loss in over a year.
'We have to do a better job of locking in defensively when we have a few shots roll out on us,” McCaffery said. 'We had some good offensive possessions where the ball didn't go in. You're in transition in that situation, so that's not easy.
'Our defense has to be good, it has to be at its best when a couple of offensive possessions don't go our way.”
'We just didn't play with enough force offensively,” said Holtmann in East Lansing. 'We had trouble moving, cutting, driving it with the necessary force to play in a game like this. We just did.”
So here they meet again. On Feb. 4, the Buckeyes overcame an 11-point second-half deficit and defeated the Hawkeyes in Iowa City, 89-85. It's offense that defines both.
In KenPom.com's adjusted defensive efficiency rankings (points per 100 defensive possessions, adjusted for schedule), through Thursday, Iowa was 79th and Ohio State 84th. In adjusted offensive efficiency, the Hawkeyes were second and the Buckeyes third.
Adding to Iowa's misery by a lot was Friday's news that 6-foot-11, fourth-year sophomore Jack Nunge will miss the rest of the season because he tore a meniscus in his right knee in Thursday's game.
Entering that game, Nunge was averaging 7.5 points and 5.6 rebounds, and 16.6 minutes.
'I don't even know what to say at this point about Jack knowing the road he's gone through at the beginning of the season with his father,” Iowa senior Jordan Bohannon said Thursday.
Nunge's father, Dr. Mark Nunge of Newburgh, Ind., died suddenly last Nov. 21 at age 53. That was shortly before he was going to see Jack play his first game in almost a year after Nunge tore an ACL in his right knee early last season.
'He's one of my best friends,” Bohannon said. 'I can't even talk about what he's going through mentally. I just have to be there for him and try to keep him positive through this tough time he's going through.
'He's a big part of this team. I can't imagine what's going on through his head right now. We just have to be there and love the kid and hopefully the best will show up in the end.”
'He gives us versatility,” McCaffery said of Nunge's impact, 'especially when we're playing a team that's really big like Michigan. You need that other big guy in there.
'He's a high-level rebounder, he's a shot-blocker. But he's also a scorer and he gives you another offensive weapon.”
Nunge's absence leaves Luka Garza as the lone true center in McCaffery's rotation, and undoubtedly will mean more playing time for freshman forward Keegan Murray. Garza already is averaging a team-high 32.3 minutes in Big Ten games.
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