Hawkeyes brace for Buckeyes' Mitchell
For a brief moment at her weekly press conference Tuesday, Lisa Bluder turned from coach to promoter.
Bluder promised something for everyone. She touted entertainment for young and old when No. 16 Iowa (17-4, 8-2 Big Ten) hosts Ohio State at 7 p.m. Thursday.
For fans of Disney's "Frozen," there will be princesses, for collectors there will be bobbleheads and for the basketball fans that come to Carver-Hawkeye Arena, there is Ohio State's Kelsey Mitchell.
Mitchell enters Thursday's game as the top scorer in the nation at 26 points per game and is red hot after scoring 30 or more points three times in her past five games.
"It shouldn't take a lot of promotions to get people to want to come here and watch Kelsey Mitchell play," Bluder said. "She is the leading scorer in the nation and one of the best players in our league."
Mitchell is averaging better than 30 points over the last five games helping Ohio State win four straight games and bolt up the Big Ten Standings.
The Buckeyes enter the game 15-7 overall and 7-3 in Big Ten play, tied for third and a game behind Iowa in the conference standings.
"Ohio State is coming in on a run," Bluder said. "They have won four games in a row so this is a very good Ohio State team."
Part of the entertainment on Thursday are the Hawkeyes themselves.
Iowa has won 11 of its last 13 games and is coming off a 93-88 road loss at No. 5 Maryland on Sunday.
The Hawkeyes will try to continue its recent trend of quick bounce backs.
Iowa is 4-0 following losses this season and hasn't lost consecutive games since opening Big Ten play with back-to-back losses last January.
"Every time we have had a loss we have learned from it, we have moved on and we have had a nice little win streak afterwards," Bluder said. "Hopefully we can do the same thing with this one."
The key to bouncing back on Thursday starts with keeping Mitchell under control.
The 5-foot-8 freshman had 31 points in a win over Michigan State on Monday, her sixth 30-plus point scoring output of the season.
She put up 37 on Purdue and dropped 36 on Minnesota.
Her career his is 39 in a win over West Virginia.
"She is a great player," Iowa senior Melissa Dixon said. "She shoots a lot and she puts up a lot of points so we know it's going to be a really big key to contain her and know where she is at all times."
Mitchell leads the nation in made 3-point field goals with 84, one ahead of Dixon.
She's shot 142 free throws and also leads the Buckeyes averaging 3.9 assists per game.
"She has such long distance 3-point range, she pulls up on a dime off the dribble, she is great in transition, she can get to the rim but her pull up is pretty amazing," Bluder said. "She is just so good at drawing fouls, at pulling up at reading the defense."
Mitchell isn't a one-person show.
Junior guard Ameryst Alston is third in the Big Ten in scoring at 20.6 points per game, giving the Buckeyes the highest scoring backcourt duo in the country.
Alexa Hart adds 10.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
"They have two guards that are great players so we definitely have to keep track of where they are all the time and not let them get free," Iowa senior Bethany Doolittle said. "We have good defenders, we just need to talk and play defense as a team."
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.
Ohio State (15-7, 7-3 Big Ten) at No. 16 Iowa (17-4, 8-2 Big Ten) vs.
• Specifics — 7 p.m. Carver Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City
• Following the game — TV: BTN Plus. Radio: KXIC (800 AM), WMT (AM 600), WHO (1040 AM) Hawkeye Radio Network. Live scoring: www.hawkeyesports.com.
• Preview — Ohio State has won four straight to climb into a tie for third in the Big Ten standings behind the play of the nation's leading scorer in freshman Kelsey Mitchell. During the Buckeye's four-game win streak Mitchell is averaging 28 points per game and is scoring 26 points per game on the season.