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Hawkeyes look for third straight win against the Badgers

BY JON FRANK | FEBRUARY 16, 2011 7:20 AM

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Iowa’s high-scoring attack will undergo one of its toughest challenges this season against a stingy Wisconsin defense.

The offensive-oriented Hawkeyes (19-7, 7-6) will host the Badgers (14-10, 9-3) in Carver-Hawkeye Arena at 7 p.m. today. The matchup is Iowa’s last regular-season game against a team with a winning record.

The Hawkeyes have established themselves as a team that can out-shoot most of its Big Ten counterparts. They average 70 points per game, third in the conference behind Ohio State and Penn State.

Led by sophomore guard Jaime Printy, who averages 15 points per game, Lisa Bluder’s squad recently showcased its ability to devastate foes in a 63-point second-half performance during a comeback win over Northwestern.

In Sunday’s win over the Wildcats, Bluder’s Bunch had four players breach double digits, including a cool 22 points from Naismith Award candidate Kachine Alexander.

“Our offense is clicking right now,” senior forward Kelsey Cermak said. “We want to keep that going as much as possible.”

Putting up points against the Badgers is no easy task, though.

The senior-heavy Wisconsin squad has held its opposition to a meager 57 points per game. The Badgers managed to hold Northwestern to 41 points during a win at the Kohl Center Feb. 3 and held Indiana to 49 points in a Feb. 6 victory.

“We’re just going to have to take what they’re giving us,” said junior point guard Kamille Wahlin, who is averaging 12 points per game this season. “When you have good defenders and a good defense, you have to make sure that you keep them off balance and keep them guessing about what you’re going to do offensively.”

Coaches and players will argue that every upcoming conference matchup is equally as important as the last. But with the season winding down and Iowa still fighting for Big Ten Tournament seeding, a home win over the Badgers could be an asset to its NCAA Tournament résumé.

After limping into league play with a 7-7 record, a resurgent Wisconsin team has rampaged through the Big Ten, winning four of its last five games.

“They’re definitely on a roll right now, but so are we,” Cermak said. “We’re on a winning streak, and it feels good to be back on that winning streak.”

After dropping two in a row to Purdue and Penn State earlier in February, the Hawkeyes have clawed their way back into the middle of the conference race with consecutive victories over Northwestern and Minnesota. Currently sixth in the Big Ten standings, Iowa can still receive a three or four seed for the upcoming conference tournament if it wins out.

“When you’re looking at these last three games, we want to get them all,” Bluder said. “But we know we got to do it one at a time.”

The Hawkeyes will probably rely on perimeter shooting to overcome their opponent. But it hasn’t been there consistently. The team has averaged 59 points in its seven Big Ten losses.

“Hopefully, our shooting will be in place like it was in the second half of the Northwestern game,” Bluder said. “I don’t think we’re going to change a lot of our game plan.”


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