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Iowa women plenty motivated to play at Iowa State

[ 0 ] December 11, 2013 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. – The bigger the matchup, the shorter Lisa Bluder’s pregame speeches get.

The Iowa women’s basketball coach hasn’t needed to say much at all in preparation for this year’s annual showdown with Iowa State.

Thursday night’s 44th game in the series ranks among the most anticipated. For just the second time, No. 21 Iowa (10-1) and No. 17 Iowa State (8-0) are facing each other as ranked teams.

Iowa's Melissa Dixon, left, and Bethany Doolittle nearly lose control during the Hawkeyes game against Idaho State in Iowa City on Saturday, December 7, 2013. (Benjamin Roberts / Iowa City Press-Citizen)

Iowa’s Melissa Dixon, left, and Bethany Doolittle nearly lose control during the Hawkeyes game against Idaho State in Iowa City on Saturday, December 7, 2013. (Benjamin Roberts / Iowa City Press-Citizen)

Iowa is off to its best start since opening the 2010-11 season 12-1, and Iowa State is off to its best start in 11 years. Someone will lose a few hours after the 7 p.m. tip-off at Hilton Coliseum in Ames.

“I don’t have to worry at all about getting our team up to play,” Bluder said. “I just have to say ‘Iowa State,’ and they’ll show up.”

The series is nearly deadlocked with Iowa holding a slim 23-20 advantage in the all-time series.

Things have been even more even over the past several years, with the two teams splitting the last six games. The home team has won every game over the past six seasons.

Iowa will be trying to snap that streak — and an eight-game losing skid in Ames that dates to 1989 — Thursday night.

“We always get up for in-state rivals,” Iowa junior Bethany Doolittle said. “It’s kind of been one of those rivalries that every single year it’s been an intense game.”

Iowa won last year’s meeting 50-42 and also won the only other time the in-state foes met as ranked teams. In 2010, No. 19 Iowa beat the 16th-ranked Cyclones, 62-40.

There are some facts and figures the Hawkeyes can hang their hats on entering what figures to be a packed Hilton house Thursday night (12,600 attended the 2011 game, won 62-54 by Iowa State):

Iowa is riding a six-game winning streak that includes a 97-91 win over No. 22 Syracuse.

The Hawkeyes are 2-1 against ranked opponents, the loss a 90-87 setback at now-No. 11 Colorado.

Iowa has nine wins (9-5) over ranked teams since the start of last season and are averaging 93.7 points vs. ranked teams this year.

“It’s a fun matchup,” Iowa senior Theairra Taylor said. “They are a great team, a top-25 team, and we get up for all those games.”

That’s not to mention that junior Melissa Dixon has been playing at a high level. After a slow start to the season Dixon has made 20 three-pointers in the last three games, the most in a three-game span in school history.

She is averaging 27.6 points over the last three games and has scored at least 17 points in five straight.

“It’s just so effortless to watch her shoot, it’s fun,” Bluder said. “We want her to keep it up, keep it rolling.”

Iowa has won each of the last two matchups in the series when Iowa State was ranked and is 7-4 when one of the two teams entered the game ranked.

“It’s always a good crowd when we go over there,” Doolittle said. “I think we’ll be able to really get up for that game and do well.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball

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