IOWA CITY — Iowa’s next opponent, South Carolina State, received a 102-51 whipping at No. 12 Missouri on Monday night.
That score alone would make anyone associated with Iowa basketball naturally relax in preparation for Wednesday’s game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. But, McCaffery said, the final score said much more about the explosive Tigers than South Carolina State.
“They’re not terrible; Missouri made them look terrible,” McCaffery said Tuesday morning. “If you watched this team play, they’re talented. I’ve seen a number of their games. They played substantially better against Maryland (61-46 Terrapins win). They played substantially better against Albany (which won 70-61), a team I’m familiar with, that is 9-2.
“You look at their players individually. They’ve got a 6-11 center (Matthew Hezekiah). They’ve got bullet-quick guards who can score, they’ve got athletic wings. They ran into a buzz saw last night.”
South Carolina State (4-7) has beaten four teams with which few teams are familiar. They include: Claflin, Webber International, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Jacksonville. Iowa is the second stop on a four-game swing where the Bulldogs play at several major opponents. After Iowa, South Carolina State (RPI 299) heads to Clemson and South Carolina.
Missouri (9-1) shot nearly 57 percent from the floor and buried South Carolina State in the post 60-18. Jabari Brown also gave the Tigers a lift with his first game action since November 2011.
“Missouri was absolutely relentless with their defense, their fast break,” McCaffery said. “They are just so athletically powerful. I haven’t seen another team — obviously I focus on the teams we’re playing and I’ll see other teams based on who they played, so I haven’t studied Duke and for matter, I watched Duke-Ohio State game so I’ve seen them a little bit — but this team right here, Missouri, I tell you what, they’re as athletic as any team that’s out there. If there’s a team that’s more athletic or quicker or more powerful, I want to see them, with all due respect to Michigan and those folks that are ranked No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, etc.
“What we have to understand is, we have to play the same way. We have to get after it the same way.”
Hezekiah scored 14 points and added 12 rebounds for South Carolina State. The Bulldogs shot just 29 percent from the floor and were outrebounded 48-34.
“What was interesting in that game is (Missouri was) up 35, and they’re playing like they’re down five,” McCaffery said. “That’s a mentality we have to emulate. It’s a great learning experience because what you’re going to see is you’re going to see a team come in here on Wednesday night and you’ll say, ‘Wow, how did they lose?’ They lost by 50 because Missouri won by 50. They’re going to play a lot differently because they have talent. They have shot makers. They have post players, and they’ve got some depth.”
Missouri gets a major test against another explosive team Saturday in the annual Braggin’ Rights game against No. 10 Illinois (12-0) at St. Louis. Illinois plays at Iowa (9-2) on March 5.
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