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Iowa Basketball: Without McCaffery, Hawkeyes try to stay perfect at home

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Head coach Fran McCaffery won't be there, but the Iowa men's basketball team will look to win its 19th straight game inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena when the Hawkeyes host Northwestern in Big Ten Conference play tonight.

Tip-off is set for 8:05 p.m. and McCaffery is not allowed on the bench after being suspended Tuesday following his tirade and ejection against Wisconsin on Sunday.

Former collegiate head coach and current Iowa assistant Kirk Speraw will sit in McCaffery's chair on the bench. McCaffery said he can be at shoot-around and attend the team's pre-game meal but will watch the contest on TV.

"So I'll be as involved as I possibly can be with game prep," McCaffery said at his weekly press conference. "I've been watching film on them. Kirk is watching it with us. It's Andrew's (Francis) game, so Andrew has been watching them for quite some time. He's got them. He's watched a ton of tape.

"Kirk has established himself on a national level as being very talented in this profession, and I feel very confident that he'll do a terrific job on Thursday."

The 20th ranked Hawkeyes (12-3) have won 27 straight games at home against unranked teams. Iowa also snapped a five-game skid against Northwestern last year when it defeated the Wildcats in all three meetings. That was the first time in school history that Iowa defeated Northwestern three times in one season.

Northwestern has a new head coach in Chris Collins and his Wildcats have begun the season 7-8. The Wildcats come into the tonight's game having lost three straight games, including one at the buzzer to DePaul.

Northwestern also is 1-5 in games away from home with its most recent loss coming to Michigan, 74-51, on Sunday.

Drew Crawford leads the team at 16 points and seven rebounds per game.

"I think Chris, what he's done is he's got them playing as you would expect a Chris Collins team to play," McCaffery said. "They play with passion; they battle you; they compete; they share the ball."

The Hawkeyes have had issues away from home closing out games against good teams. But being back in Carver-Hawkeye Arena should helped Iowa get back on the winning track.

Iowa's three losses have come to teams with a combined 41-1 record. And each loss came by five points or less. Iowa also has led at the half in all but two games this season.

Roy Devyn Marble is leading the Hawkeyes at 16 points per game, while Aaron White averages 13 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, while also ranking second in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (.657) and 10th in free throw percentage (.824).

Senior Melsahn Basabe is just seven points away from 1,000 in his career. He comes into the game averaging seven points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

Since McCaffery won't be on the bench tonight, the athletic department has announced that Fran McCaffery Bobblehead Night has been postponed to the next home game, which is Sunday, Jan. 19, against Minnesota.

"I have tried to be the same guy who was the JV coach at the University of Pennsylvania in 1982," McCaffery said. "I'm not perfect. Nobody is. I'm not going to beat myself up over it. I'm not happy about it. I'm not proud of it. We're all, every one of us is never too old to learn, especially from your mistakes.

"Again, that's what we ask our players to do every day. Every day I try to become a better coach, a better person, a better father, better husband. So it's just part of it. I don't feel any differently."

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