Iowa-Wisconsin game a battle of the bigs

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Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
January 20, 2015

MADISON—Sophomore guard Bronson Koenig has another opportunity to show his readiness to help Wisconsin overcome the loss of guard Traevon Jackson tonight.

Yet the key Big Ten game between No. 6 UW (16-2, 4-1 Big Ten) and No. 25 Iowa (13-5, 4-1) at 8 p.m. at the Kohl Center likely will be determined by the respective front lines.

Can any team in the Big Ten match the skill and versatility of UW's starting front line of Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes?

Iowa could be that team.

“They are guys that do something a little bit different,” UW associate head coach Greg Gard said. “Not one is a replication of the other. They can hurt you in different ways. A team right now that is playing pretty confidently.”

Aaron White, a 6-foot-9 senior forward, leads Iowa in scoring (16.1 ppg.), rebounds (7.1) and steals (1.7). He had 22 points, six rebounds and three steals in the Hawkeyes' 76-67 victory over Ohio State on Saturday.

White contributed 12 points, two rebounds and a steal in a span of 3 minutes, 5 seconds in the second half to help Iowa turn a 10-point lead into a 16-point advantage.

“Aaron White is one of the best guys at jumping the passing lanes and getting steals and getting to the free-throw line,” Kaminsky said. “He is a very gifted player who does a lot of good things for their team.”

Redshirt junior forward Jarrod Uthoff, who started out at UW before transferring, had a quiet game against Ohio State with seven points, five rebounds and two assists. However, he hit the game-winning shot at Minnesota and is averaging 11.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists.

With only 210 pounds on his 6-foot-8 frame he can be overpowered near the basket, but his length causes opponents problems on both ends of the court.

“He is comfortable,” Gard said. “They run a lot of stuff for him now. He has added parts to his game. He has become a very good shooter. His size, he is able to shoot over a lot of people.”

Junior Adam Woodbury, a 7-1, 245-pound center, recorded a double-double with 13 points and team-high 10 rebounds against the Buckeyes. He is averaging 7.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. White and Woodbury combined to make 12 of 18 field-goal attempts against the Buckeyes.

Reserve center Gabriel Olaseni, 6-10 and 237, was limited to 10 minutes because of foul trouble but contributed four points, one rebound, one block and one steal.

Olaseni, who is shooting 57.8 percent, is averaging 8.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. He is more athletic than Woodbury, but Woodbury is an enforcer near the basket.

“He's going to be physical no matter how the game is,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said of Woodbury. “That's him. So I mean, if anybody wants to get physical, he'll be right there with you.

“You just have to worry about him not getting in foul trouble sometimes because he's going to bang you.”

Kaminsky, Dekker and Hayes, as well as reserves Duje Dukan and Vitto Brown, must work to limit Iowa's offensive rebounds.

The Hawkeyes are No. 2 in the Big Ten in offensive rebounding percentage (.359). White leads Iowa in offensive rebounds (42), followed by Olaseni (39) and Woodbury (38) and Uthoff (38).

“Nothing is going to be easy against Iowa,” Kaminsky said.

UW is No. 1 in the league in defensive rebounding percentage (.779).

Kaminsky leads the Big Ten in defensive rebounds (110) and Hayes is tied for fifth (91).

“Coach McCaffery has done a good job building a program that can have interchangeable parts and play multiple positions,” said Dekker, who is third on UW in defensive rebounds with 56.

“That is where they are dangerous … because they're always going to have new energy in there, fresh legs.

“You've just got to match that and compete and do what we do every night. That is just play hard.”

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