Texas coach Rick Barnes has so many good players he is having trouble finding minutes for all of them. Iowa coach Todd Lickliter is looking for anyone that can consistently make shots.
The third-ranked Longhorns look to begin 3-0 for the third straight season Monday night when they meet the Hawkeyes in the semifinals of the CBE Classic in Kansas City.
Barnes spread out the playing time in the first two games, and Texas won by an average of 39.5 points over UC-Irvine and Western Carolina. No Longhorn logged more than 29 minutes in a contest, and 11 played at least 10.
“It’s hard to get everybody out there,” Barnes said. “I’ll tell you this: If guys do their job, they’re all going to find a way to get on the court.”
That has created a situation in which practices have been the best competition for Texas, which does not play a ranked opponent until meeting No. 6 North Carolina at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington on Dec. 19.
“When you’re out there, you have to do everything right,” forward Gary Johnson said. “You have to play as hard as possible.”
The Longhorns held their first two opponents to 26.8 percent from the field, and that could be bad news for Iowa (1-2). The Hawkeyes shot 32.7 percent in losses to Texas-San Antonio and Duquesne before shooting 47.1 percent in a 68-46 win over Bowling Green on Friday.
Reserve Eric May made all four of his 3-pointers and led Iowa with 16 points. The Hawkeyes made 12 of 25 from beyond the arc after converting 22.2 percent of their 3s in the first two games.
“We just got in a flow,” May said. “It’s nothing magical. We were comfortable, more relaxed. We weren’t worried about the first two games. We were just concentrating on tonight’s game.”
Lickliter changed his lineup Friday and gave freshman Brennan Cougill his first start in place of Aaron Fuller. Cougill responded with eight points and eight rebounds while Fuller logged just three minutes.
Iowa is led by Anthony Tucker with a team-high 11.3 points a contest. In contrast, the Longhorns have three players averaging more than that and are led by Damion James with 19.5.
Texas has shot well on 3-pointers at 42.3 percent (11 of 26), and is also very strong inside with James, Johnson and 6-foot-10 center Dexter Pittman.
“We’ve got to pound the ball and make the defense respect that too,” James said. “That’s what we’ve got to do.”
Iowa leads the series 2-1, with Texas winning 68-59 on Nov. 23, 2005, in Kansas City in the last matchup. This is the third time in six years that the teams will meet in November.
The winner will play Pittsburgh or Wichita State in the championship Tuesday.