Huskers Hungry for Shot at Spartans

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Nebraska Cornhuskers (12-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
Michigan State Spartans (7-6, 1-6 Big Ten)
Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, 2 p.m. (CT)
Breslin Center – East Lansing, Michigan
Live TV:
BTN (Mike Hall, Stephanie White)
Radio Live: Huskers Radio Network (1:45 p.m.)
Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst)
Lincoln (107.3 FM), Omaha (ESPN 590 AM),, Huskers App

Michigan State Huskers Rejoice in Big Ten Play 
The Nebraska women’s basketball team resumes Big Ten play Thursday when the Huskers travel east to East Lansing in order to take on Michigan State.

Tip-off between Huskers (12-0 1-0 Big Ten) & Spartans (7-6 -1 Big Ten) will be held at 2 p.m. CT at Breslin Center. Live television coverage is provided by the Big Ten Network, Fox Sports App. The Huskers Radio Network broadcasts the game (B107.3 FM Lincoln; ESPN 590AM, Omaha), or the Huskers App. Jeff Griesch and Matt Coatney are on the call.

Nebraska’s tip-off time at Michigan State was changed Monday from 12:30 to 2 p.m. CT. The conference added the game to its Big Ten Network TV schedule.

The Huskers are coming off one the most impressive non-conference slates in school record books. The Big Red went 11-0 against nonleague foes and added a 70-67 Big Ten-opening victory at Minnesota (Dec. 6).

Nebraska is among the five unbeaten NCAA Division I women’s basketball teams, along with South Carolina, North Carolina and Arizona. NU is No. 7 in the NET rankings, Dec. 23.

The 2021-22 Huskers were the second NU team ever to win 12 consecutive games. This joins the 2009-10 Big Red which won 30-0 to open the season on its way to the Big 12 championship.

The non-conference season was closed by Nebraska’s win over Wyoming 72-61. Wyoming is the Mountain West Conference champion. This was NU’s ninth win in double digits to start the season.

Annika Stewart, a second year Husker freshman, was named on the Big Ten Weekly Honor Roll. After achieving career highs of 21 and three blocked shots in less than 15 minutes from the bench in the win against the Cowgirls, Annika was named to this week’s Big Ten Weekly Honor Roll.

The win over Wyoming was NU’s third over a 2021 conference champion, joining victories against America East champ Maine (108-50), and Colonial Athletic Association champion Drexel (65-73). It was also NU’s third win over a 2021 NCAA Tournament squad, joining Drexel (86-60) and Wake Forest (866-60).

Nebraska’s win against Wyoming opened a streak of seven consecutive games against 2021 NCAA Tournament qualifiers.

Amy Williams, Husker’s head coach, was named the National Coaching of the Week by ESPN’s Mechel Voepel (Dec.27). Emily Thiesse, Williams’ sister, has her Minnesota State Mankato team off on an undefeated start at 11-0 NCAA Division II.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (12-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
14 – Bella Cravens – 6-3 – Jr. – F – 7.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg
34 – Isabelle Bourne – 6-2 – So. F – 10.6 ppg. 4.4 rpg
0 – Ashley Scoggin – 5-7 – RSo. G – 8.9ppg – 1.1 rpg
1 – Jaz Shelley – 5-9 – So. G – 14.3ppg, 6.6rpg
4 – Sam Haiby – 5-9 – Jr. – G – 9.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg
Off the Bench
40 – Alexis Markowski – 6-3 – Fr. F/C – 8.5ppg, 6.4rpg
21 – Annika Stewart – 6-3 – Fr. F – 7.2ppg, 2.6rpg    
3 – Allison Weidner – 5-10 – Fr. G – 5.1ppg, 3.8rpg
32 – Kendall Coley- 6-2 Fr. 32 – Kendall Coley – Fr.
5 – MiCole Cayton – 5-9 – Gr. – G – 2.5 ppg, 1.0 Rpg
11 – Ruby Porter 5-10 – Fr. – G – 2 ppg, 0.9 Rpg
15 – Kendall Moriarty 6-1 – Fr. – G – 1.5 ppg, 0.50 rpg
10 – Whitney Brown, 5-8 – Fr. – G. – 1.7 ppg. 0.7 rpg
Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998)
Sixth Season at Nebraska (84–75); 15th Season Overall (277-184)

Michigan State Spartans (7-6; 1-1 Big Ten).
2 – Tamara Farquhar – 6-0 – Gr. – F – 5.9 rpg, 5.2 ppg
4 – Alisia Smith – 6-3 – Gr. F – 6.8ppg, 4.4rpg
0 – DeeDee Hagemann – 5-7 – Fr. – G – 8.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg
11 – Matilda Ekh- 6-0 Fr. – G/F – 10.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg
24 – Nia Clouden – 5-8 – Sr. – G – 21.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg
Off the Bench
14 – Taiyier Parks – 6-3 – Jr. – F – 7.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg
22 – Moira Joiner – 5-10 – Jr. – G – 6.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg
12 – Isaline Alexander – 6-3 – Fr. F – 2.0 ppg. 1.3 rpg
21 – Laurel Jaqmain – 5-8 – Gr. G – 1.5 ppg and 1.5 rpg
10 – Lauren Walker – 6-2 – Fr. F – 1.0ppg, 1.0rpg
21 – Brooklyn Rewers – 6-4 – Fr. – C – 1.0 mg, 0.3 rpg
20 – Jayla James – 6-1 – Jr. – F – 0.8 ppg, 0.5 rpg
Head Coach:Suzy Merchant (Central Michigan 1991)
15th Season at Michigan State (303-163), 26th Season Overall (504-283).

Nebraska Numbers to Keep an Eye on
• Through games Dec. 26, the Huskers ranked among the top 10 teams nationally in win-loss percentage (1.000, 1 of 5), defensive rebounds per game (3rd, 32.3 rpg), scoring margin (4th, +28.1 ppg), field goal percentage (5th, .478), scoring offense (7th, 83.5 ppg), three-point field goal percentage (7th, .387), assists (7th, 228), field goal percentage defense (8th, .328), and assists per game (10th, 19.0 apg). In 18 statistical categories, Nebraska ranks amongst the top 25 teams nationally. 

• Nebraska leads the Big Ten in scoring margin (+28.1 ppg), rebound margin (+9.9 rpg), total rebounds (44.8 rpg), defensive rebounds (32.3 rpg), field goal percentage defense (.328), three-point field goal percentage defense (.249), three-pointers made (8.8 pg) and assists (19.0 apg).

• Nebraska guard Jaz Shelley ranks among the top 20 players in the Big Ten in scoring (17th, 14.3 ppg), rebounding (12th, 6.6 rpg), assists (7th, 4.8 apg), blocked shots (4th, 1.3 bpg), steals (15th, 1.6 spg), three-point field goal percentage (2nd, .523), three-pointers made per game (5th, 2.8) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3rd, 2.6).

• Huskers Jaz Shelley (5th, 2.8 pg) and Ashley Scoggin (11th, 2.0 pg) rank among the top players in the Big Ten in three-point field goals made per game. The only three national teams with two shooters ranked amongst the top 50 are Nebraska (Shelley, 7th, and Scoggin, 42nd), along with DePaul (Lexi Held and Darrione Rogers), Kent State (Casey Santora and Lindsey Thall).

• Nebraska’s backcourt has taken care of the ball while creating opportunities. Jaz Shelley (2.6), and Sam Haiby (2.4) rank No. Based on the NCAA minimum 3.0 assists per match, Big Ten players rank No. 3 (2.6) and No. 5 (2.4). While they don’t meet NCAA minimums, Husker reserves Allison Weidner (3.4) and Ruby Porter (3.3) have higher assist-to–turnover ratios that Shelley (28th), and Haiby (46th), both of whom rank among the top 50 NCAA players.

• The only other teams in the nation with two players ranked among the top 50 in assist-to-turnover are Baylor and Colorado. The Buffs and Bears do not have guards with better assist to turnover ratios than their top-ranked players.

• Nebraska ranks seventh nationally in scoring offense with 83.5 points per game. In 2009-10 (77.4 points per game), NU averaged more than 75 point per game for the first time in 25 years. The Husker team was unbeaten in the regular season. They won the Big 12 regular-season championship title and advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.    

• Sophomore point guard Jaz Shelley has pulled down 79 total rebounds in 325 minutes this season. The 5-9 Shelley has 70 rebounds in two seasons at Oregon (2019-20 and 2020-21).

• Jaz Shelley leads Nebraska with 15 blocked shots through 12 games, nearly tripling her two-year total at Oregon (6) in 55 games with 12 starts. 

• Jaz Shelley is the only Big Ten player to rank among the top 20 in the conference in all five major statistical categories: scoring (17th), rebounding (12th), assists (7th), blocks (4th), steals (15th).

Scouting the Michigan State Spartans
• Michigan State heads into Thursday’s game with a 7-6 record after dropping games to Florida Gulf Coast (85-84 2OT) and West Virginia (74-54) at the West Palm Beach Invitational, Dec. 20-21.

• Spartan senior guard Nia Clouden erupted for a Michigan State school-record 50 points in the loss to FGCU, going 17-for-28 from the field and 15-of-17 from the free throw line in 46 minutes. She also had six rebounds.

• Clouden has been both dynamic and efficient this season, averaging team bests of 21.8 points, 4.4 assists and 1.3 steals while hitting 48.9 percent of her field goal attempts, including 40 percent (20-50) of her three-pointers, and 90.8 percent (89-98) of her free throws. She has added 4.3 boards.

• Michigan State has lost four of its last five games with a Big Ten home win over Illinois (75-60, Dec. 9) preceded by December losses to Notre Dame (76-71) and at Iowa (88-61). 

• Following the loss at Iowa, Spartan point guard Alyza Winston (12.2 ppg, 3.0 apg, 1.4 spg) entered the transfer portal after starting MSU’s first 10 games.

• Freshman DeeDee Hagemann from Detroit has stepped into the Spartan starting five since Winston’s transfer. As a starter, the 5-7 guard has averaged 10.0 point, 6.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists. He has also been able to steal 2.0 shots and averaged 8.7 points and overall 3.4 rebounds this season.

• Freshman Matilda Ekh (10.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg) and graduate Alisia Smith (6.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg) have joined Clouden in the Spartan starting five for all 13 games. Ekh, a 6-3 forward, leads the Spartans in long range shooting with 24 three-pointers (.453). Smith, a forward of 6-3, is shooting solid 53.4 percent (37-73) from the field. Smith is back at MSU for her second season after she spent her first three seasons at Penn State.

• Another graduate transfer from a Big Ten school, Tamara Farquhar (Purdue) rounds out Michigan’s State’s probable starting five, averaging 5.2 points and 5.9 rebounds this season.

• The Spartans gain experience and production off the bench from juniors Taiyier Parks (7.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and Moira Joiner (6.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg).

• Michigan State lost two of its top players from 2020-21 to injury prior to the start of the season, as junior guard Julia Ayrault tore the Lisfranc ligament in the top of her foot the first week of official practice, before senior guard/forward Tory Ozment suffered an ACL tear on Oct. 9. Ayrault had 9.0 points and 4.9 rebound, leading MSU with 24 blocked shots last year. Ozment added 6.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, and was second in assists (3.3 apg, 1.3 spg) and third in steals (1.3 SPG).

• As a team, Michigan State is averaging 76.9 points per game while shooting 46.5 percent from the field, including 37.5 percent from three-point range. Clouden attempts more than 40 percent of the Spartans’ free throws. The Spartans also shoot 78 percent from their free throw line.

• MSU, which is 6-1 at home this season, owns positive rebound (+3.5) and turnover (+1.3) margins.

Nebraska vs. Michigan State Series History
• Nebraska leads the all-time series with Michigan State 9-4 with all 13 meetings as Big Ten foes. The Huskers won 68-64 over the then-No. 23 Spartans in East Lansing, Jan. 10, 2021

• Isabelle Bourne led all players with 18 points, despite suffering an ankle injury in the closing seconds. Sam Haiby had a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing a record 12 rebounds. Bella Cravens contributed nine points, nine boards, and three blocks. Ruby Porter was a breakout player with nine points and three three-pointers. 

• Nia Clouden led three Spartans in double figures with 14 points before fouling out late in the game. Tory Ozment scored 11 points, and Alyza Winston pitched 10. 

• Nebraska went 6-for-14 from three-point range while the Spartans went just 5-for-25. At the half, the Huskers led 39-30. However, Michigan State held a 48-47 advantage into the fourth quarter.

• The Huskers are 3-4 against Michigan State all-time in East Lansing. The Huskers are 5-1 against MSU in Lincoln, with an 82-71 win over Spartans on February 17, 2019, at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Last season, Michigan State declined to play on NU’s Senior Day (Feb. 27, despite having traveled to Lincoln.

• Three of Nebraska’s five home wins have been decided by seven points or less.

• Five of Nebraska’s nine wins have been by 10 points or less, while NU’s most lopsided win in the series came with an 86-58 victory over the Spartans in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on March 8, 2014 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

• Michigan State’s first three series wins in East Lansing were all by double digits, including a 73-53 victory in the first-ever meeting on Feb. 23, 2012. Two years later, the Spartans won 70-57 on Jan. 9, 2014. Then, they won 93-73 against the Huskers on January 7, 2017.

Nebraska Streaks
• Nebraska heads into Thursday’s game at Michigan State on a 12-game winning streak, marking just the second time in school history the Huskers have opened a season 12-0, joining NU’s 2009-10 squad that started 30-0, won the Big 12 title and earned a No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament.

• Nebraska’s last 12-game winning streak came from games No. 19 through No. 30 in 2009-10

• The Huskers own a nine-game home winning streak, dating back to an 87-72 victory over Penn State in last year’s regular-season home finale at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Feb. 21, 2021. 

• The last time Nebraska had a nine-game home winning streak came in 2015-16.

• Nebraska has won three consecutive true road games and four straight games away from Pinnacle Bank Arena.

• NU’s game with Michigan State will be the second of seven scheduled games against 2021 NCAA Tournament qualifiers for the Huskers. It will be the third consecutive game against 2021 postseason tournament qualifying teams.

• The Huskers have knocked down at least one three in 410 straight games dating back to a loss at UTEP on Dec. 20, 2008. In 289 consecutive games, Nebraska has scored at least two three-pointers.

Marginal Differences
• Nebraska enters the game against Michigan State with a combined 12-game victory margin of 337 points – the largest of any 12-game opening stretch in school history, surpassing the 317-point margin by NU’s 2009-10 team.

• The current stretch also matches the largest combined cumulative margin of any 12-game stretch in school history, which came with 337 total points in Games 2-13 in 2009-10.

Deep Bench Boosts Big Red
• The Husker bench has outscored opponent reserves 401-198 (+16.9 ppg) through 12 games, including a 310-152 edge (+19.8 ppg) in eight games at Pinnacle Bank Arena

• A total of 11 Huskers are averaging better than 10.0 points per 40 minutes, including four Huskers (Annika Stewart, 30.2 pp40; Alexis Markowski, 24.3 pp40; Isabelle Bourne, 21.3 pp40; and Jaz Shelley, 21.1 pp40) who are averaging better than 20 points per 40 minutes. 

• No Husker ranks among the top 25 players in the conference in minutes per game. With 27.1 minutes per match, Jaz Shelley leads Nebraska. McKenna Warnock, from Iowa, ranks 25th (29.6 mpg).


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