The 42nd meeting between Iowa and Northern Iowa is tonight in the McLeod Center. The Panthers are 7-1 and notched their first in-state victory of the season at Iowa State last week. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery says the Panthers balanced scoring makes them difficult to defend.

“They have guys who can score inside, they have size, anytime you have that many guys who can make shots, they are a hard team to prepare for and a hard team to defend,” McCaffery says.

U.N.I. will want to slow the tempo and McCaffery says the Hawkeyes will need to make the most of every possession. McCaffery says you have to have quality possessions against anyone on the road, and you have to compete on offense and defense to win.

Iowa smothered the Panthers a year ago in a 51-39 win in Iowa City and McCaffery says defense holds the key in this one. “You’ve got to get back, you’ve got to stay up and you’ve got to stay after them, it’s that simple,” McCaffery says. He says the most important thing is communicating on defense.

McCaffery says while the Panthers are known for their ability to shoot it is their passing that sets them apart, as he says they are unselfish and they clearly are only concerned about winning.

The Hawkeyes won their first three games of the season, but have stumbled to a 5-3 record coming into tonight’s game. U.N.I. coach Ben Jacobsen says that despite losses to teams like Creighton, Clemson, and Campbell, Iowa still has a very good basketball team. “There hasn’t been a year that the game with Iowa hasn’t been extremely difficult and a real challenge in terms of preparation, and this is no different,” Jacobson says.

Tonight’s game at the McLeod Center is set for a 7:00 tip-off.

By Jesse Gavin, KCNZ, Cedar Falls