Big guys at center of Iowa-Texas matchup

Chad Leistikow

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Remember Occupy Wall Street? Thursday's Iowa-Texas basketball game here at Madison Square Garden, a few stops North on the 2 train, will be an exercise of Occupy The Paint.

Huge men will be, literally, at the center of the first of two 2K Classic semifinals.

And even though Iowa's front line has a more height, Texas' brings the hype.

Texas’ Myles Turner is averaging 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in limited action after two games as a collegian.

Texas starts three bruising post players – 6-foot-9, 285-pound Cameron Ridley is flanked by Jonathan Holmes (6-8, 240) and Connor Lammert (6-9, 240). Oh, and possible one-and-done 2015 NBA lottery pick Myles Turner (6-11, 240) comes off the bench.

"You can't give them second and third shots, which is what they're really good at," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "I think the glass will be key (and) taking care of the basketball. Can't turn it over."

Iowa's post guys are more spindly but can score in a variety of ways. Center Adam Woodbury (7-1, 240) is the Hawkeyes' most lumbering force underneath. He played against Ridley in AAU ball.

"He gotten a lot bigger than when I was going against him," said Woodbury, who isn't accustomed to giving up 45 pounds on anyone.

Aaron White (6-9, 228), Jarrod Uthoff (6-9, 210) and Gabe Olaseni (6-10, 237) will try to hold their own. All three are excellent free-throw shooters, if they can power their way to the line.

Rick Barnes, Texas' 17th-year coach, has seen a lot of basketball. He's looking away from the big guys to decide who wins his school's fifth meeting with Iowa.

"I know they've got size, and so do we," Barnes said. "But guards are so important in college basketball."

And Barnes has a great one, in sophomore point guard Isaiah Taylor. He and Turner are among the nation's top 25 players, according to USA TODAY.

Both 2-0 teams like to pass the basketball outside, then out for an open 3-pointer. Both teams are deep.

It's a big challenge all the way around. White said the result, one way or another, will "prove how good of a team we are."

Iowa's big guys are ready.

"I don't know how many people are giving us a shot to go down there and win, but we're giving ourselves a shot," Woodbury said. "And we're going to be ready."