Iowa women get another shot at Big Red nemesis
If you're spending time scouring statistics and pouring over numbers in an attempt to unearth the reason for Iowa's recent struggles against Nebraska, Lisa Bluder can save you some time.
Bluder has a simple explanation for her team's winless string against the Cornhuskers over the past three seasons.
"They've been really good," Bluder said. "I think that is the main thing, they are an excellent team with a very good coach. I really think that is the biggest thing, they are good."
Bluder makes a strong point.
One that is backed up by the Cornhusker's string of success.
Nebraska hasn't lost more than six league games in any of its three seasons in the Big Ten.
The Cornhuskers won last year's Big Ten Tournament and have been to the NCAA Tournament three seasons in a row.
They've also been a thorn in the side of the Hawkeyes since they became conference rivals.
Nebraska has won all eight meetings with Iowa as a member of the Big Ten, including a 3-0 record in Iowa City and wins in each of the last three Big Ten Tournaments.
"They have been our nemesis," Bluder said. "They have been a team that has given us fits."
No. 20 Iowa (15-3, 6-1 Big Ten) gets another shot against another good Nebraska team.
The Hawkeyes will put their four-game winning streak on the line against No. 16 Nebraska (15-3, 5-2) in a top-20 showdown at 8 p.m. Monday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena (Big Ten Network).
"As a competitor you want to have these games," Iowa senior Samantha Logic said. "Obviously you don't want to be losing to a team that much, but I'm competitive for every single game, so I don't know how much extra it brings out in me, but we're going to be ready Monday night."
The last meeting between the border rivals was a 72-65 Cornhuskers win in last year's Big Ten Tournament title game.
There won't officially be a title on the line Monday, but the first of two regular-season meetings between the two teams could go a long way in the Big Ten race.
Iowa enters Monday's game alone in second place in the Big Ten standings with a one-game lead over Nebraska and Minnesota.
"It feels good to be in second place but it's early," Bluder said. "There are a lot of games left and we know that."
With a win Monday Iowa can keep the heat on league-leading Maryland.
To do that, Iowa will need to snap the Cornhuskers five-game winning streak that began after Nebraska opened Big Ten play with back-to-back losses.
The Cornhuskers haven't dropped a game since a 75-47 setback to Maryland on Jan. 3 and are coming off of a 17-point win at Wisconsin.
"They are a great team so we are going to have to be clicking on all cylinders," Logic said. "They are playing well."
The key to slowing the Cornhuskers is limiting all-Big Ten point guard Rachel Theriot.
Theriot leads three Nebraska players averaging double figures with 17.1 points per game this season and had 24 points in the Big Ten title-game win over Iowa a year ago.
Seniors Emily Cady and Tear'a Laudermill average 12.7 and 12.4 points per game respectively.
"They are very well coached, they are very well balanced," Bluder said. "They're a good team."
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.
Iowa (15-3, 6-1 Big Ten) vs. Nebraska (15-3, 5-2 Big Ten )
• Specifics — 8 p.m. Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City
• Following the game — TV: Big Ten Network. Radio: KXIC (800 AM), WMT (AM 600), WHO (1040 AM) Hawkeye Radio Network. Live scoring: www.hawkeyesports.com.
• Preview — Iowa will try to snap an eight-game losing skid to Nebraska in a meeting of top-20 teams. Iowa's leading scorer, Melissa Dixon (15.9 ppg), leads the nation in 3-pointers per game with 3.8.