Jan. 14, 2014
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- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — After 18 games and 12 days of Big Ten Conference women’s basketball action, there is a grand total of one team with an undefeated record.
That team — Michigan State — will be on Mediacom Court in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, when the University of Iowa has an opportunity to spoil the undefeated party and creep closer to the top of the league standings.
Iowa — the only Big Ten team with four games under its belt — enters with a record of 14-4 overall, 2-2 in the conference. Michigan State is 11-5, 3-0.
“That’s the way the Big Ten is,” UI senior Theairra Taylor said. “The competition is so good that you could lose any night, so you have to make sure you bring you’re `A’ game. We’re aware they are on top right now and we want to win every game. We’re in the middle of the pack and we want our name at the top. Whoever is up there has a target on their back.”
“The Big Ten was the No. 1 RPI conference in American before the conference season began, the best in America. Now we’re going into conference play and when we all beat up on each other it makes it tough because we don’t have the great records at the end of the year that some other conferences have.”
UI basketball coach
Like last season, the Hawkeyes and Spartans meet just once in the regular season. Thursday’s contest kicks off what UI head coach Lisa Bluder calls a “tough week”; Iowa plays at Ohio State on Sunday.
“We play the top team right now in the Big Ten, then we have to travel to Ohio State,” Bluder said Tuesday at a news conference inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “Ohio State is playing much better than people thought they were going to at the beginning of the year.”
Bluder says the Spartans have “a lot of weapons” and they are the team that plays some of the best defense in the conference. Now healthy, Bluder says Michigan State looks like the top-25 team they were in the preseason.
“We only get them once and we’re lucky to have them on our home floor,” UI junior Samantha Logic said. “They’re playing great, getting it together right now. They have a little bit of everything on their team. We have to come in ready and play our best basketball.
“We have to defend them well, get out in transition when we can and keep boxing out because they’re a great rebounding team.”
The Hawkeyes have proven they can win both at home and on the road. They knocked off Minnesota (78-71) at home and handled Wisconsin (82-65) on the road in back-to-back outings. Now they can create more chaos in the standings.
“The Big Ten was the No. 1 RPI conference in American before the conference season began, the best in America,” Bluder said. “Now we’re going into conference play and when we all beat up on each other it makes it tough because we don’t have the great records at the end of the year that some other conferences have.”
The Hawkeyes are 9-1 at home this season and a win against Michigan State would leave them a ½ game out of first place.
“We would be right where we want to be and where we set our sights,” Bluder said. “We have to focus one game at a time but the Michigan State game puts us right back in the hunt.”
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. (CT). The game can been seen locally on Mediacom Connections and online via video.BTN.com.