Wisconsin may only have one conference win, but this will be no gimme game for the Huskers. This is going to be another drag down defensive rock fight. Let’s hope the Huskers find enough offense to get the “W”.
Nebraska Cornhuskers at Wisconsin Badgers
Sunday, January 27, 2019, 2 p.m. (CT)
Kohl Center (17,152) - Madison, Wisconsin
Live Video: BTN Plus
Live Radio: Husker Sports Network (1:45 p.m.) Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst); Lincoln-B107.3 FM; Omaha-ESPN 590 AM
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Nebraska is coming off a narrow 58-54 loss to Northwestern in a defensive struggle at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln on Thursday night.
Wisconsin native Hannah Whitish led the Huskers with 12 points on four three-pointers against the Wildcats. The 5-9 junior guard was Wisconsin’s Miss Basketball in 2016. The four-time first-team All-Wisconsin selection is averaging 8.9 points and a team-best 3.8 assists for Nebraska in 2018-19.
Nebraska also has seen big production from its freshman class. Nebraska is the only Big Ten team with two freshmen as its top two scorers (Leigha Brown, 10.1 ppg; Sam Haiby 10.0 ppg) and the only team in the conference with its top two scorers coming off the bench.
Freshmen forwards Ashtyn Veerbeek (8.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.1 bpg) and Kayla Mershon (3.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg) have joined Brown and Haiby in playing in all 19 games for the Huskers this season. Mershon has earned three consecutive Big Ten starts.
Nebraska heads to Wisconsin expecting another tight battle. Last year, the Huskers outlasted the Badgers 51-48 in Lincoln (Feb. 11, 2018), and 11 of the 15 games in the history of the series have been decided by 10 or fewer points. Seven of NU’s 10 losses this year have been by single digits, while four of their wins have been by 10 or fewer points.
Nebraska’s bench is the most productive in the Big Ten, averaging 32.1 points in league play. Wisconsin’s bench ranks in the top five in the Big Ten with 19.9 points per conference game.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-10, 4-4 Big Ten)
44 - Kayla Mershon - 6-3 - Fr. - F - 3.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg
31 - Kate Cain - 6-5 - So. - C - 6.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg
3 - Hannah Whitish - 5-9 - Jr. - G - 8.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg
5 - Nicea Eliely - 6-1 - Jr. - G - 7.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg
33 - Taylor Kissinger - 6-1 - So. - G - 9.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg
Off the Bench
32 - Leigha Brown - 6-1 - Fr. - F - 10.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg
4 - Sam Haiby - 5-9 - Fr. - G - 10.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg
13 - Ashtyn Veerbeek - 6-2 - Fr. - F - 8.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg
24 - Maddie Simon - 6-2 - Sr. - F - 7.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg
14 - Grace Mitchell - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 1.1 ppg, 1.1 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 (37-43); 12th Season Overall (230-152)
Wisconsin Badgers (10-10, 1-7 Big Ten)
2 - Kelly Karlis - 6-2 - Sr. - F - 8.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg
11 - Marsha Howard - 6-0 - Sr. - F - 12.4 ppg, 9.3 rpg
34 - Imani Lewis - 6-1 - Fr. - F - 11.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg
10 - Kendra Van Leeuwen - 5-10 - Jr. - G - 4.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg
22 - Niya Beverley - 5-7 - So. - G - 5.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg
Off the Bench
14 - Abby Laszewski - 6-2 - Jr. - F/C - 6.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg
44 - Alex Luehring - 6-2 - RFr. - G - 5.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg
3 - Suzanne Gilreath - 5-4 - Jr. - G - 5.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg
23 - Jasmine Hale - 5-9 - Fr. - G - 2.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg
30 - Kara Crowley - 5-10 - So. - G - 1.7 ppg, 0.8 rpg
20 - Diamond Bragg - 5-7 - Fr. - G - 1.1 ppg, 0.9 rpg
13 - Sydney Mathiason - 6-1 - Fr. - F - 0.5 ppg, 0.2 rpg
Head Coach: Jonathan Tsipis (North Carolina, 1996) Third Season at Wisconsin (28-53); Seventh Season Overall (121-91)
Scouting The Wisconsin Badgers
Head coach Jonathan Tsipis brings his third Wisconsin team into Sunday’s game against Nebraska trying to snap a six-game losing streak, following Thursday’s 65-59 home loss to Penn State in Madison. Sunday’s game will be Wisconsin’s fourth home game in the past five contests.
Wisconsin entered Big Ten play with a 9-3 record, before losing 74-56 to then-unbeaten Minnesota in Minneapolis (Dec. 28). The Badgers rebounded with an impressive 76-69 home win over Purdue (Dec. 31) to improve to 10-4, but have not found a win yet in 2019.
Wisconsin is led by senior Marsha Howard, who is averaging team highs with 12.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. The 6-0 forward also ranks second on the team with 21 steals on the year.
Howard is one of many Badgers who have struggled at the free throw line this season. She is shooting just 44 percent (37-84) from the stripe, while Wisconsin is shooting a striking 53.5 percent (220-411). Eight Badgers are shooting less than 60 percent from the line.
Freshman forward Imani Lewis has added an explosive addition alongside Howard by averaging 11.9 points and 7.9 rebounds. The 6-1 Lewis is shooting just 56.5 percent (65-115) at the line. Howard (1-6) and Lewis (0-3) are not regular threats from three-point range.
Senior transfer Kelly Karlis gives Wisconsin size and experience. The 6-2 forward who previously starred at Ohio, is averaging 8.1 points and 4.7 rebounds while knocking down 20-of-64 (.313) threes. She has managed 63.3 percent (31-49) shooting from the free throw line.
Lewis and Karlis have stepped into more prominent roles with an early season loss of junior forward Courtney Fredrickson to injury. Fredrickson averaged 8.9 points and 5.6 rebounds for UW in 2017-18.
Junior point guard Kendra Van Leeuwen has averaged 4.5 points and 3.9 rebounds while being UW’s most dangerous distributor with 4.8 assists per game. However, Van Leeuwen is shooting just 28.9 percent from the field, including a 15.8 percent (6-38) from three-point range. Van Leeuwen does lead Wisconsin starters with 72 percent (18-25) shooting at the free throw line, but gets to the line less than any other Badger starter.
Sophomore Niya Beverley has been Wisconsin’s most frequent fifth starter in Big Ten play. The 5-7 guard is averaging 5.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists with 12 starts on the season, including six in conference play. Beverley has hit 39.1 percent (9-23) of her threes but has hit just 50 percent (15-30) of her free throws.
As a team, Wisconsin is averaging 63.8 points per game on the season, but that production has dipped to 59.0 points in Big Ten play. The Badgers have allowed just 60.8 points per game on the year, but that number has ballooned to 71.9 points in conference action.
In Big Ten play, Wisconsin is shooting just 38.2 percent from the field, including just 27 percent (30-111) from three-point range and 52.1 percent (86-165) at the free throw line. The Badgers carry a minus-1.6 rebound margin and a minus-3.0 turnover margin in the Big Ten.