There's only one statistic that stands out: margin of victory.
The Johnson County Community College women's basketball team enters today's Emerson JUCO Challenge with an 8-1 record, winning those eight games by an average of 38.3 points.
The Cavaliers - ranked No. 2 in NJCAA Division II - face off with host Marshalltown Community College tonight at 6 p.m. in the Student Activity Center. MCC interim coach Jay Freese believes that his team needs to handle the matchup mentally in order to compete physically.
"I just told the girls that (Johnson County) is probably going to come out and press, their theory is to come out at the beginning of the game and deliver a knockout blow," he said. "I'm telling the girls we've got to withstand those assaults and we've got to hang around and hang around. We can't get rattled, and that's what we've been talking about this week."
The Tigers (5-3) haven't played since Saturday's 63-57 win over the Grand View JV in their finale of the Hampton Inn Classic. Freese said a key to that victory was limiting turnovers, and he's been able to preach the same sermon heading into this weekend's tournament too.
"We had 33 turnovers in our loss to Lake Land, and we turned around and made 22 against Grand View," Freese said. "There's proof right there. We're aiming for 18 or fewer turnovers in this game, so this means we have to take care of the basketball and we have to score every time while using up as much clock as we can."
Marshalltown has eclipsed 70 points three times this season - all victories. The Tigers are led by sophomore Arielle Lockett's 13.1 points and 8.75 rebounds per game. Freshman Jasmine Johnson is second in both categories, putting up 11.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per outing. Freshmen Arnisha Thomas (11.5 ppg) and Shantal Tobler (9.3 ppg) are key contributors offensively as well.
"These girls are fast, they can be good, we've just got to keep our head in the game," said Freese. "Just because somebody throws a bad pass, let's not be walking down with your head hanging. Get your butts back and let's play defense and get a steal and make up for it.
"Just keep playing your hardest, good things will happen when you play hard."
Johnson County's only loss was a double-overtime setback against D-I No. 4 Hutchinson CC, 85-77, the day after Thanksgiving.
The Cavaliers are led in scoring by Amy Briggs (12.7 ppg), Mary Pat Specht (11.1) and Polly Harrington (10). The team is averaging 10.9 steals per game, enforcing Freese's theory that JCCC will come out with a pressure defense in trying to bury the Tigers from the opening tip.
"If we just keep hanging around and hanging around, when you can't knock somebody out that'll come back and bite you," Freese said. "We'll be OK."
The Tigers return to the court on Sunday at 6 p.m. to face the Central College junior varsity.
Iowa Central, the top-ranked women's team in Division II, will also be in action in the Emerson JUCO Challenge. The Tritons (9-0) have won each of their games by at least 18 points, and they are on the court Saturday and Sunday.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck graduate Lauren Bengen is averaging 6 points per game for Iowa Central, which plays against Cowley County at 2 p.m. on Saturday and against Black Hawk CC at 6 p.m. Sunday.