Hawks in Paradise

Iowa basketball takes the next step in the 2012-13 campaign with its first road trip. The Hawkeyes tip things off at the Cancun Challenge on Tuesday night.

As you sit at your desk waiting for a short work week to end, think about the Iowa basketball team soaking up the sun in Cancun.

It won't be all play and no work down in Mexico, however. The Hawkeyes will be stepping up in competition south of the border.

You can catch the action on CBS Sports Network. That does not mean it will be on Channel 2 in Iowa City. Find out where you can watch the game in your area here.

Iowa (4-0) faces Western Kentucky (2-1) in the Cancun Challenge Tuesday night (8:30 p.m. CT). The Hilltoppers are coming off a 16-19 season which included a 7-9 mark in the Sun Belt.

The winner of Iowa-W. Kentucky will play the survivor of Wichita State-DePaul Wednesday night at 8:30. The losers meet at 6.

The Hawkeyes show promise in their third season under the guidance of Fran McCaffery. They're deep and come at you. They like to dunk.

Iowa broke out of a shooting slump Saturday night in mounting a furious comeback against Gardner-Webb. If they hit from the perimeter and rebound, they're going to be a much tougher out.

Roy Devyn Marble and Aaron White are Iowa's most talented players right now. Eric May, Melsahn Basabe, Zach McCabe, Josh Oglesby and Gabe Olaseni grind it out and understand their roles. Freshmen Adam Woodbury, Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons show promise.

The most impressive thing about this team so far is that it doesn't need Marble and White to carry them in scoring. Most of the other players can exploit a match-up or tactical move by the opponent.

Western Kentucky's offensive attack is concentrated. Jamal Crook (19.7 PPG), T.J. Price (13.0) and George Fant (12.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG) lead the way. If you follow Iowa recruiting, you might recall Fant, who McCaffery offered a scholarship.

Iowa should get Wichita St. in the second round, which it likely would with a win against W. Kentucky. The Shockers are 4-0, including a win at VCU. Starting point guard Malcolm Armstead considered an Iowa offer when coming out of Chipola JC in Florida.

This week begins Iowa's road season. We'll see if that affects several of the new faces and those whose roles have increased.

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