Nebraska Cornhuskers at 5/4 Louisville Cardinals
ACC/Big Ten Challenge
Thursday, November 29, 2018, 6 p.m. (CT)
Live Video: ACC Network Extra (Watch ESPN)
Live Radio: Husker Sports Network (5:45 p.m.); Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst) Lincoln-B107.3 FM; Omaha-CD 105.9 FM
Huskers.com, Huskers App
Last season, the Huskers shocked everyone by finishing third in the Big Ten and playing like a team that could hang with most anyone this side of UConn. One of the “side-effects” of that success will be seen tonight as the Huskers got one of the tougher draws in the Big Ten/ACC challenge. Iowa has to travel to defending national champion Notre Dame - a tall order even for a talented Hawkeye squad.
The Huskers have shown a lot of areas of improvement this season, even if they haven’t always translated into wins (see below for a note about the Huskers’ schedule so far). They are averaging nearly 10 points per game more on offense and are a much better free-throw shooting team than last season. The Big Red has given up a lot more points on defense than they did last season, but they’ve faced some really good offensive teams thus far.
No. 5 Louisville, which won the ACC and advanced to the 2018 NCAA Women’s Final Four, will be Nebraska’s third opponent currently ranked in the AP Top 25. The Huskers opened with current No. 24 Drake (Nov. 7), before facing current No. 21 Miami (Nov. 23).
Louisville head coach Jeff Walz was an assistant coach at Nebraska in 1998, 1999 and 2000 under Coach Paul Sanderford. In 1998, current Nebraska head coach Amy Williams was a senior guard for the Huskers, who advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Huskers are coming off their most complete performance of the young season with a 77-39 win over Radford at the Miami Thanksgiving Classic on Sunday, Nov. 25. Freshmen Leigha Brown and Ashtyn Veerbeek led the Huskers with 13 points apiece. In fact, at least one freshman has led the Huskers in scoring in four of Nebraska’s first five games, with Sam Haiby leading the Huskers against Miami, Drake and Washington State as well.
Nebraska’s four freshmen reserves are combining to average 29.4 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, while NU’s two sophomore starters (Kate Cain, Taylor Kissinger) have combined to average 18.8 points and 10.2 boards per contest. Nebraska six underclassmen have combined for 61.3 percent of NU’s scoring and 52.7 percent of the team’s rebounding through five games.
Trivia: Kate Cain needs two blocks to join the top five in Nebraska history in that category. She seems likely to set a career blocked shot record that could stand for a VERY long time at UNL before she is done with her career here.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-3, 0-0 Big Ten)
24 - Maddie Simon - 6-2 - Sr. - F - 8.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg
31 - Kate Cain - 6-5 - So. - C - 9.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg
3 - Hannah Whitish - 5-9 - Jr. - G - 8.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg
5 - Nicea Eliely - 6-1 - Jr. - G - 8.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg
33 - Taylor Kissinger - 6-1 - So. - G - 9.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg
Off the Bench
4 - Sam Haiby - 5-9 - Fr. - G - 11.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg
13 - Ashtyn Veerbeek - 6-2 - Fr. - F - 8.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg
32 - Leigha Brown - 6-1 - Fr. - F - 7.2 ppg, 1.6 rpg
11 - Kristian Hudson - 5-5 - Sr. - G - 3.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg
44 - Kayla Mershon - 6-3 - Fr. - F - 2.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg
14 - Grace Mitchell - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 2.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg
Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998) Third Season at Nebraska (30-36); 12th Season Overall (223-145)
No. 5/4 Louisville Cardinals (6-0, 0-0 ACC)
3 - Sam Fuehring - 6-3 - Sr. - F - 11.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg
33 - Bionca Dunham - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 7.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg
11 - Arica Carter - 5-8 - RSr. - G - 8.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg
25 - Asia Durr - 5-10 - Sr. - G - 21.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg
23 - Jazmine Jones - 6-0 - Jr. - G - 6.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Off the Bench
1 - Dana Evans - 5-6 - So. - G - 8.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg
21 - Kylee Shook - 6-4 - Jr. - F - 8.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg
2 (out) - Yacine Diop - 5-10 - RSr. - G - 6.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg
12 - Lindsey Duvall - 5-9 - RFr. - G - 3.4 ppg, 0.4 rpg
4 - Seygan Robins - 5-10 - Fr. - G - 1.8 ppg, 0.5 rpg
5 - Mykasa Robinson - 5-7 - Fr. - G - 1.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg
24 - Jessica Laemmle - 5-2 - Jr. - G - 0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg
Head Coach: Jeff Walz (Northern Kentucky, 1995) 12th Season at Louisville (305-96); 12th Season Overall (305-96)
Scouting the Louisville Cardinals
The Cardinals are led by 2018 All-American and ACC Player of the Year Asia Durr. The 5-10 senior guard is averaging 21.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals through six contests after averaging 18.7 points and 3.1 boards per game last season. Durr is shooting 44 percent from three-point range (22-50) and 95 percent (19-20) from the free throw line.
Durr is one of four returning starters and 10 letterwinners from last year’s Cardinal team that finished 36-3 overall, 15-1 in the ACC and advanced to the 2018 NCAA Women’s Final Four.
Durr is joined by fellow senior returning starter (6’3” center) Sam Fuehring, who is one of 20 players on the Lisa Leslie National Center of the Year Award Preseason Watch List, is shooting 56.1 percent from the field, including 50 percent (2-4) from long range. She has also connected on 90.9 percent (20-22) of her free throws.
The Cardinals gain more explosiveness and experience from fifth-year senior Arica Carter. The 5-8 guard is averaging 8.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per contest. She is also Louisville’s top three-point shooter by percentage, knocking down 54.5 percent (12-22) of her attempts through six games.
Carter, Durr and Fuehring (.500, 2-4 3FG) are three of eight Cardinals shooting 40 percent or better from three-point range through this season’s first six games. The other five shooters come off the bench, led by 6-4 junior forward Kylee Shook (8.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg) who has knocked down 6-of-12 threes (.500). Dana Evans, a 5-6 sophomore guard who has added 8.5 points and 1.5 rebounds, has hit 2-of-5 threes (.400) and 13-of-14 free throws (.929).
Jazmine Jones, a 6-0 junior guard, is Louisville’s fourth returning starter after averaging 8.9 points and 4.6 rebounds while starting all 39 games for the Cardinals a year ago. She is extremely aggressive and leads Louisville with 18 fouls, including five in just 13 minutes in the Cardinals’ most recent game.
Bionca Dunham, a 6-2 junior forward, has moved into the starting lineup over the last four games and is averaging 7.8 points and 3.0 rebounds. Dunham is shooting 65.5 percent (19-29) from the field but has not attempted a three.
The Cardinals were dealt a blow when fifth-year senior guard Yacine Diop suffered a knee injury. Diop, who spent her first four seasons at Pitt, averaged 15.7 points and 6.4 rebounds for the Panthers last season. A member of Senegal’s National Team, Diop was averaging 8.3 points and 5.7 rebounds through Louisville’s first three games and made starts in the Cards’ first two contests.
As a team, Louisville is averaging 81.7 points per game, while allowing 63.7 points per contest. The Cardinals are shooting 50.3 percent from the field, including 44.1 percent from three-point range while averaging 8.7 made threes per contest. Louisville has also hit 79.6 percent of its free throws. The Cards own a plus-5.8 rebound margin and a plus-0.5 turnover margin.
This will be a difficult game, but a great place for all of Nebraska’s young talent to test themselves and see how they stack up against an elite team. Go Big Red!