Dec. 11, 2013
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Thursday's Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series matchup at Iowa State is an important, intense and emotional rivalry for the University of Iowa women's basketball team, but UI head coach Lisa Bluder says the Hawkeyes enter the game with nothing to lose.
"We already have some signature wins and have a good pre-conference record," said Bluder. "We need to go in there and play as well as we can and let the chips fall where they may. This has traditionally been won by the home team, and we know that going in."
The home team has won the last six meetings in a series where Iowa holds a 22-20 all-time advantage. The Cyclones were the last program to break through with a road victory, winning 80-74 on Nov. 30, 2006. Iowa's last win in Hilton Coliseum came Dec. 17, 1989, by a 75-55 margin.
Iowa enters its third road game of the season with a 10-1 record and a No. 21/24 national ranking. Iowa State is 8-0 and ranked 11th in the Coaches' Poll and 17th by the Associated Press. It is the first time the two programs meet as ranked foes since the 2010-11 season when Iowa downed the Cyclones, 62-40, in Iowa City.
"The last seven years, it has been the home team winning, so we're the underdogs going in there," said Bluder. "They're ranked higher than us in every poll, and we're playing on their home court. We know it's a difficult challenge, but our team is very focused on getting ready for this game."
"We need to try to change the tides a little bit in our favor. It's going to be a tough game; we have to be ready to play a full 40 minutes."
UI junior Samantha Logic
Junior Samantha Logic says with the hype surrounding the game, it could be a bigger draw than the 2011 meeting in Ames that drew more than 12,000 fans.
"You have to be ready for that, you have to know it's going to be loud, feisty, hopping, and we have to be ready," said Logic. "If we come to play, we're going to be OK."
The game is expected to be a track meet.
Iowa enters the contest having scored at least 95 points in three-straight games and averaging 84.1 points. Iowa State scores 82.1 points per contest with senior forward Hallie Christofferson leading the charge with a 25-point scoring average -- the eighth-highest figure nationally.
"Hallie is as good as any player we're going to see this year," said Bluder. "She is a very tough matchup for us and is probably one of the best inside players we've seen. We're aware of her, and we need to try to prevent her from getting the ball as best as we can."
With the offenses taking center stage, senior Theiarra Taylor wants the Hawkeyes to win with their defense.
"I hope it comes down to our defense," said Taylor. "If we can continue communicating, we can stop their confidence early and keep the score low."
Limiting the Cyclones on the scoreboard would put the Hawkeyes in position to win in Ames for the first time in 24 years. Taylor wants to win and limit Iowa State offensively partly for another reason, to see her coaches drop to their knees for pushups.
"That was Abby Emmert's idea," said Bluder. "We tell them how many the other team averages, and if we hold them below that average, we do a pushup for every point they are below their average. We do the number of points, plus one, with everything we do."
The coaching staff did 14 pushups following the 95-47 victory over Idaho State and the most they have done this season was 23. Taylor calls them "real pushups," which are done at the beginning of practice in front of the entire team.
"Sometimes you have to have fun with it," said Bluder. "It's probably hilarious for them to see their coaches do pushups, but it's fun for the players."
Another fun moment would be giving Bluder her first win as Iowa's head coach in Ames.
"We need to try to change the tides a little bit in our favor," said Logic. "It's going to be a tough game; we have to be ready to play a full 40 minutes."
Thursday's game is set to begin at 7 p.m. (CT) inside Hilton Coliseum.