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Nebraska WBB vs Rutgers Preview

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The Huskers offense had better be ready for the defensive-minded Scarlet Knights

NCAA Womens Basketball: Nebraska at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-8, 2-2 B1G) vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (12-3, 4-0)
Sunday, January 13, 2019, 2 p.m. (CT)
Pinnacle Bank Arena (15,000) - Lincoln, Nebraska
Live Television: BTN
Live Radio: Husker Sports Network (1:45 p.m.); Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst); Lincoln-B107.3 FM; Omaha-ESPN 590 AM
Huskers.com, Huskers App, TuneIn

The Huskers taken on the Big Ten’s lone remaining unbeaten team (in league play) as the Rutgers Scarlet Knights come to town on Sunday. Nebraska is trying to rebound from back-to-back losses to top 25 Big Ten teams at Iowa and to Maryland.

This will be another tall test for a young Husker squad as Rutgers is experienced, confident, and incredibly stingy in giving up points. I’ve watched good defensive teams, but never seen a team that has the intensity of Rutgers - the Scarlet Knights even challenge simple handoffs. The Huskers may be a balanced scoring team, but have yet to really show a lot of offensive rhythm or to put it all together to really showcase the firepower that they really have. Sunday would be a good day to do that.

Rutgers comes to Nebraska riding a seven-game winning streak that includes a 73-65 win at then-No. 4 Maryland (Dec. 31), along with home wins over Penn State and Northwestern. The Scarlet Knights, who are receiving votes in both national polls, won 71-60 at Illinois on Wednesday.

This season, Nebraska and Rutgers feature two of the Big Ten’s deepest and most balanced teams. The Huskers regularly use a 10-player rotation with nine averaging double-figure minutes in conference games. Rutgers also has nine players averaging double-digit minutes in league play and have at least 12 players contending for time in Big Ten action.

Neither Nebraska nor Rutgers feature an individual averaging 11 points per game on the year.

Early this season, Naismith Hall of Fame Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer recorded her 1,000th career victory with a win over Central Connecticut (Nov. 13). Stringer is in her 24th season at Rutgers and her 48th overall as a head coach.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-8, 2-2 Big Ten)
24 - Maddie Simon - 6-2 - Sr. - F - 8.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg
31 - Kate Cain - 6-5 - So. - C - 7.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg
3 - Hannah Whitish - 5-9 - Jr. - G - 8.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg
5 - Nicea Eliely - 6-1 - Jr. - G - 8.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg
33 - Taylor Kissinger - 6-1 - So. - G - 9.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg

Off the Bench

4 - Sam Haiby - 5-9 - Fr. - G - 10.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg
32 - Leigha Brown - 6-1 - Fr. - F - 9.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg
13 - Ashtyn Veerbeek - 6-2 - Fr. - F - 7.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg
44 - Kayla Mershon - 6-3 - Fr. - F - 2.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg
14 - Grace Mitchell - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 1.3 ppg, 1.3 rpg
11(out) - Kristian Hudson - 5-5 - Sr. - G - 2.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg

Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998); Third Season at Nebraska (35-41); 12th Season Overall (228-150)

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (12-3, 4-0 Big Ten)
35 - Stasha Carey - 6-2 - RSr. - F - 10.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg
40 - Victoria Harris - 6-3 - Sr. - C/F - 6.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg
3 - Charise Wilson - 5-5 - Sr. - G - 7.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg
5 - Ciani Cryor - 5-5 - Jr. - G - 8.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg
24 - Arella Guirantes - 5-11 - So. - G - 10.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg

Off the Bench
15 - Caitlin Jenkins - 6-3 - Sr. - F - 6.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg
2 - Noga Peleg Pelc - 5-7 - Fr. - G - 6.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg
4 - Sierra Calhoun - 6-0 - Sr. - G - 5.9 ppg, 1.5 rpg
1 - Zipporah Broughton - 5-7 - Fr. - G - 4.1 ppg, 1.2 rpg
13 - Mael Gilles - 6-1 - So. - F - 2.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg
44 - Jordan Wallace - 6-3 - Jr. - C - 3.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg
31 - Tekia Mack - 6-1 - So. - F/G - 2.7 ppg, 1.8 rpg
22 - Tyia Singleton - 6-2 - Fr. - F - 1.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg

Head Coach: C. Vivian Stringer (Slippery Rock, 1971); 24th Season at Rutgers (489-270); 48th Season Overall (1,009-405)

Scouting the Rutgers Scarlet Knights

The balanced Scarlet Knights attack features seven players averaging better than six points per game and seven players who have started at least one Big Ten contest this season.

Fifth-year senior forward Stasha Carey is an all-around leader for the Scarlet Knights. She averages 10.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.6 blocks per game.

Four more seniors make Rutgers one of the Big Ten’s most experienced groups, including starting post Victoria Harris (6.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.0 spg) and starting guard Charise Wilson (7.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.0 apg). Harris leads Rutgers in steals (28), while Wilson leads the Scarlet Knights with 45 assists. Wilson also ranks second among the Scarlet Knights with 18 three-pointers.

Caitlin Jenkins, a 6-3 forward averaging 6.6 points and a team-best 7.4 rebounds, and 6-0 senior guard Sierra Calhoun, a transfer from Ohio State who is averaging 5.9 points, round out the Rutgers senior contributors.

Junior guard Ciani Cryor has returned from an early season injury to power Rutgers with 9.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 8.3 assists and 4.0 steals per game in Big Ten play. Cryor is averaging 36 minutes per game in league play.

The youngest member of the Rutgers starting five, sophomore guard Arella Guirantes is averaging team bests of 10.6 points per game on the season and 12.3 points in Big Ten play. The 5-11 transfer from Texas Tech ranks third on the team with 16 three-pointers.

Freshman Noga Peleg Pelc, a 5-7 guard from Israel, also has made a major impact. Pelc, who started eight games early in the season, is averaging 6.9 points per game. She leads Rutgers with 25 threes on the season, including 7-of-11 shooting (.636) from long range in Big Ten play.

Stringer and Rutgers have always been known for their suffocating defense and this year has been no exception. The Scarlet Knights are holding opponents to just 52.7 points per game despite playing explosive offenses like Maryland, Gonzaga and Drake this season. They have held seven of their 15 opponents to fewer than 50 points this season including 39 by Albany, 41 by Northwestern and 43 by LSU.

Offensively, Rutgers is averaging 64.4 points per game, outscoring opponents by 11.7 points per game while out-rebounding foes by 8.7 boards per contest. Rutgers also owns a plus-0.5 team turnover margin.

In the past couple seasons under Amy Williams, Nebraska and Rutgers have played some knock-down drag-em-out games with both teams on their defensive game. This year’s version of Nebraska is not the defensive team we’ve seen in those seasons and without a big night on the offensive side, a win will be difficult to come by for the Huskers.