Freshman Whitney Jennings turning it up for Hawkeyes

Ryan Murken
Iowa's Whitney Jennings, the fifth leading-scorer in Indiana prep history, is averaging 9.4 points per game just five games into her college career.

Samantha Logic has been pushing the offensive pace and putting pressure on opposing defenses as Iowa's point guard for three years.

It took three games for Logic to see that same aggressive, tempo-pushing, defense-stressing nature from freshman guard Whitney Jennings.

Jennings had a career-high 15 points in a win over Dayton and had 12 in No. 17 Iowa's 73-45 win over Northern Iowa on Tuesday.

The 5-foot-5 freshman has scored in double figures in three straight games as Iowa (5-0) enters Friday's matchup with unbeaten Arkansas (4-0) at the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout in Las Vegas.

"She's not going to force anything, she lets things come to her, little bit too much sometimes I think," Logic said. "I tell her 'Whit, you're quick, push on them a little bit, no one can stay in front of you' so I think she is just looking more for her opportunities, and I think that's shown through more these last few games."

Five games into her college career, the fifth leading-scorer in Indiana prep history is averaging 9.4 points per game.

Those numbers have been boosted by her last three performances.

Jennings has hit 13-of-25 shots from the field, including 7-of-12 from 3-point range and averaged 12.7 points over the last three games.

For the season Jennings is shooting better than 41 percent from 3-point range.

"We all know she can knock shots down," Logic said. "We all have the most confidence in her to knock them down so I think her confidence has been there. I'm just happy that it's getting put together right now."

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Jennings' fast start has been her ability to handle the ball.

Playing mostly the off guard spot with Logic handling the point guard position, Jennings has 17 assists and only six turnovers.

Over the past three games Jennings has 10 assists with just one turnover.

"She is incredibly level-headed for a freshman," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "She is really court-savvy out there, real confident with the ball. She takes care of the ball extremely well and she doesn't have turnovers."

The increased aggression and production from Jennings makes the Hawkeyes' already loaded backcourt spearheaded by Logic even more potent.

Logic, who was named to the Wooden Watch list this week, is living up to her preseason all-American pedigree.

The senior point guard is averaging 11 points, 8.2 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game.

Fellow senior Melissa Dixon is shooting 53 percent from 3-point range.

That trio will be critical has Iowa embarks on its toughest stretch of the season this weekend.

The Hawkeyes will face back-to-back unbeaten teams over the next 24 hours, beginning with Arkansas (4-0) Friday at 3 p.m. before facing Gonzaga (4-0) Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

Both games will be played at South Point Arena in Las Vegas.

"We'll play Arkansas on Friday, a team from the SEC that is receiving votes and is undefeated right now and Gonzaga is undefeated right now," Bluder said. "Gonzaga beat Dayton by double-digit numbers, outrebounded Dayton by 12 and part of their toughness is their home court. I'm glad we're getting them on a neutral court, but they are a very good basketball team."


No. 17 Iowa (5-0) vs. Arkansas(4-0)

• Specifics — 3 p.m. South Point Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.

• Following the game —Radio: KXIC (800 AM), WMT (AM 600), WHO (1040 AM) Hawkeye Radio Network. Live scoring:

• Preview — Iowa's schedule continues to stiffen as the Hawkeyes face the first of two unbeaten opponents at the South Point Thanksgiving today when they take on Arkansas. Iowa is coming of a 28-point win over Northern Iowa Tuesday in which the Panthers tried to slow the pace of the game way down. The Razorbacks will likely do the same. Arkansas is allowing opponents 45 points per game this season.