Melissa Dixon tries to continue 3-point shooting pace

Ryan Murken
Iowa's Melissa Dixon (21) puts up a jump shot against Penn State during the first half of play at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Sunday, December 28, 2014. The Hawkeyes opened the Big Ten season with at 77-52 win over the Nittany Lions.

The opinion of most people close to the Iowa program is that there isn't a better shooter in the country than senior guard Melissa Dixon.

For senior point guard Samantha Logic it's hardly a matter of opinion.

"Stats tell you she is the best shooter in the country," Logic said. "She is shooting at a high rate, not even just makes per game but shooting close to 50 percent, that is unbelievable."

Logic pointed to the stats, and in this case the stats don't seem to lie.

Entering No. 17 Iowa's (11-3, 2-1 Big Ten) 1 p.m. meeting with Purdue (9-6, 2-2 Big Ten) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena (Big Ten Network), Dixon is making 3-pointers at a higher rate than any other player in the country.

Dixon leads the nation in 3-pointers per game at 4.36, nearly one more triple per game than Ohio State freshman Kelsey Mitchell (3.5).

"I think every game builds more and more confidence for me," Dixon said "My teammates, as always, have done a great job of finding me in transition or when people collapse on them. That's part of Iowa basketball, being unselfish."

It's not just the volume but the efficiency that Dixon is shooting the long ball this season that stands out.

Dixon is eighth in the country in 3-point percentage, shooting 48.4 percent from beyond the arc.

She is only one of two players in the country with more than 80 3-point attempts that is shooting better than 48 percent.

"She has always been a really good 3-pointer shooter," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "She is a senior, she is confident and she is on that shooters roll right now so we want to keep that going."

Dixon became Iowa's all-time career 3-point leader earlier this season and moved into fifth place on the Big Ten's all-time list with eight 3-pointers in a 73-61 loss to Illinois on Thursday.

With her eight 3-pointers against the Illini Dixon has put together one of the most impressive stretches in recent memory.

Dixon has 29 3-pointers over the last four games — including a school-record 10 in a win over Drake — on 56 percent shooting.

During the four-game stretch Dixon is averaging 24.3 points per game and has upped her season average to a team-high, and career-best, 16.2 points per game.

"Thank God for Melissa," Bluder said. "She had a great night again. Where would we have been without her (Thursday), where would we have been at Drake without her? She is keeping us in games offensively at times."

Dixon will try to continue her torrid pace today against a Purdue squad that ranks eighth in the Big Ten defending the 3-pointer.

The Boilermakers are allowing opponents to shoot 31 percent from 3-point range this season.

Highlighted by Dixon, the Hawkeyes are shooting 41.6 percent from 3-point range as a team.

Only Princeton at 43.1 percent is shooting a higher percentage from beyond the arc.

"We have to get the ball to her," Logic said. "Even if she doesn't shoot it stretches the defense so much and it can open up so much and she is so valuable for our team because of that."

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Purdue (9-6, 2-2 Big Ten) at Iowa (11-3, 2-1 Big Ten)

• Specifics — 1 p.m. Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City

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

• Preview — Iowa is trying to avoid back-to-back losses for the first time since last January after surrendering a 14-point, first-half lead in a 73-61 loss at Illinois on Thursday. Purdue's two conference losses have come to No. 12 Maryland and No. 23 Minnesota, the only remaining unbeaten teams in Big Ten play.