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Melsahn Basabe: Any win vital for Iowa Hawkeyes at this point

Scott Dochterman, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

IOWA CITY — For Melsahn Basabe, this Saturday’s basketball game against Drake is more than about just wrapping up Iowa’s instate basketball series on a winning note. It’s about a victory, period.

“Right now it’s important to get one win over anybody,” said Basabe, an Iowa sophomore forward. “We’re 5-5. I know we’re not where we want to be as a team so we definitely need to string a few wins together and really pick things up. We’ve only got a few games before the Big Ten season starts.”

The Hawkeyes dropped both instate games last week at Northern Iowa and Iowa State. Iowa never has lost to all three teams in the same season, so there’s some motivation toward beating Drake. Iowa is 10-1 against the Bulldogs at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“We don’t want to go 0-3 against instate teams; it’s a big deal for us,” Iowa senior Matt Gatens said. “We’re going to take Drake with a lot of concentration and a lot of respect. We know that they beat Iowa State.

“We haven’t talked about them much yet, but we are a little bit familiar with them from being in the same state as them. They’re having a good year, so it’ll be a good match and hopefully we’ll be ready for them.”

Drake beat Iowa State 74-65 earlier this season. The Bulldogs also lost 108-64 to future Iowa opponent Boise State.

It may be the final time Iowa plays Drake in Iowa City. Both Iowa and Iowa State are withholding future basketball contracts with Northern Iowa and Drake. It’s possible the schools will play annually at a neutral site, such as Des Moines’ Wells Fargo Arena. The Iowa-Iowa State annual series will not change, Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard confirmed Monday. Drake and Northern Iowa also meet twice each year in Missouri Valley Conference play.

Iowa has played Drake 65 times and lost just 10. The Hawkeyes have won two straight in the series. While the Hawkeyes are concerned about Drake, they are more concerned with their own play at this point.

“I think guys just know we’ve got to get this win just because no matter who it is,” Iowa junior Eric May said. “It’s just important for us to come out and really play hard and show something in this game on Saturday.”

Iowa plays only three more non-conference games before starting Big Ten play on Dec. 28 against Purdue. Iowa’s five wins have come against teams with a combined record of 15-33, including winless Chicago State (0-9) and Northern Illinois (0-8). Iowa’s five losses are against teams with a combined record of 35-10, including three teams (Creighton 7-1; Campbell 8-1; UNI 9-1) that have only one loss.

©2011 The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

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