Bluder's Bunch heads to Kansas State

BY DI STAFF | DECEMBER 02, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa women's basketball team has a chance to sweep the two-year Big Ten/Big 12 Challenge against Kansas State on Saturday, when the Black and Gold travel to Manhattan, Kan.

The Wildcats visited Iowa City last year and left with a 68-62 loss. The inside game was strong for Iowa, which racked up a 38-27 advantage in the paint.

"We were able to beat Kansas State on our home court last year, [but] we know they're a different team on their home court," Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. "It's going to be a hostile environment, and they draw [fans] very well."

Bluder noted that the Wildcats are a tough defensive team — they hold opponents to 47.8 points per game. That might not bode well for the Hawkeyes, who have struggled to consistently score this season.

But at least one Hawkeye looks forward to the game: junior center Morgan Johnson.

Johnson — who turned in a 23-point performance in Wednesday night's victory over Virginia Tech — is from Platte City, Mo., about two hours away from Manhattan.

"I've been excited about this game for a long time," Johnson said on Wednesday. "Not just because it's a lot of family and a lot of friends who are going to be there, but I've gone and watched the girls play at K-State. I know some of the girls that play there, so it will be a little more personal."

Bluder said the whole team — not just Johnson — will need to contribute offensively if it wants to leave Manhattan with a win.

Junior shooting guard Jaime Printy scored 9 points last time out — 10 points below her season average coming into the Virginia Tech game — and senior point guard Kamille Wahlin was scoreless.
Bluder said her team's 74-58 loss to No. 4 Texas A&M on Nov. 6 could prove beneficiary because the two teams play in the same conference and boast some similar skills.

"Playing against Texas A&M helped prepare us, but this is a [Kansas State] team that beat Texas A&M at home last year," she said. "They love playing in their home building."

The Wildcats are 3-2; they were undefeated before dropping games to Hofstra and No. 15 Purdue in Cancún, Mexico, over Thanksgiving break.

Kansas State's offense has been struggling. The Wildcats are shooting just 34 percent from the field, 23 percent from 3-point range.

"It would be great to get a sweep of Kansas State," Bluder said. "[They're a] good basketball program, consistently in the NCAA Tournament. This would be a good win for us on the road, especially."

— by Ben Wolfson

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