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The Box Score: Iowa vs. Nebraska

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | FEBRUARY 17, 2015 5:00 AM

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With the Iowa women’s basketball team picking up yet another win to improve to 21-4 overall and cement their standing in second place in the Big Ten, it appears the Black and Gold are starting to play their very best basketball at the most important time of the year, something that bodes well for their chances come tournament time. 

Head coach Lisa Bluder’s Hawks are winners of nine of their last 10, with their only loss coming on the road to conference leader Maryland two weeks ago. But how do this year’s Hawks stack up against last season’s Big Ten champs, Nebraska? A closer look at the numbers reveals quite a bit.

It’s Hawkeyes against the Huskers in the latest edition of the Box Score.

Scoring offense — 2015 Hawkeyes second, 2014 Huskers second

Last year saw the top two offenses going head to head for the Big Ten title, with Nebraska eventually emerging victorious. The Huskers averaged 75.6 points per game, behind only the Hawkeyes, whom they defeated.

This year, the roles are flipped, with Iowa boasting the second-best offense with 79.3 points to Maryland’s astounding 82.2. If history is any indicator, a high-scoring offense is trait shared by almost every conference champion, something the Hawks have in spades.

And while they’re scoring at a slightly slower clip than last season (around 2 points per game), there should be no doubt about the Black and Gold’s ability to push the pace offensively.

Scoring defense — 2015 Hawkeyes 12th, 2014 Huskers first

While this current Hawkeye squad is just as deadly on offense as the reigning Big Ten champs were a year ago, it could not be any further apart on defense. 

Bluder likes her teams to play with pace, a mindset that by design leaves itself open to fast breaks in the other direction. If the shots are falling for the Hawks, they typically don’t have much of a problem using the dynamic scorers on the team to outscore the opposition.

But on a day when they’re not shooting so well? A bit of a different story. 

Iowa’s average of allowing 70.1 points per game puts it less than a point behind basement-dwelling Penn State and Ohio State for worst in the Big Ten.

Is the best defense a good offense? Maybe, but the ability to physically shut down your opponent is a great skill to have, one the Hawks have yet to showcase so far this year.

Free-throw percentage — 2015 Hawkeyes 11th, 2014 Huskers first

You’d think a team that shoots so well from the filed would be better at knocking down free throws, but it’s not really the case with the Black and Gold.

Averaging less than 71 percent from the line, the Hawks own one of the lowest conversion rates in the conference despite ranking fourth in attempted free throws in the league.

When a team built on maximizing offense, it’s tough to throw away easy points against the elite defenses of the conference.

And when considering that three of Iowa’s four losses were by 10 points or fewer, giving away those easy points can really sting you in tight games.

Follow @ryanarod on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa women’s basketball team.


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