Winning this game on the road will be a tall order for a Husker team that, while talented, is still working to establish roles and their core identity. This is a very young Nebraska team with six of the nine players expected to play significant minutes being true freshmen or sophomores. Junior Grace Mitchell is the 10th active player, but has been limited by a foot injury.
The Huskers have a tough stretch of games left to close out Big Ten play. They will have to play their best basketball of the season to have a realistic shot at postseason play. While we haven’t seen a clear identity emerge yet, things change on a dime with a young team. If the Huskers can use their emerging defense to create transition opportunities and steal a few cheap points, they certainly have the ability to grab a “W” in West Lafayette.
Nebraska Cornhuskers at Purdue Boilermakers
Thursday, January 31, 2019, 7 p.m. (CT)
Mackey Arena (14,846) - West Lafayette, Indiana
Live TV: BTN (Mike Monaco, Vera Jones)
Live Radio: Husker Sports Network (6:45 p.m.) Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst); Lincoln-B107.3 FM; Omaha-ESPN 590 AM
Huskers.com, Huskers App, TuneIn
Close games have been the norm for Nebraska this season. Unfortunately, the Huskers are just 2-7 in games decided by six points or less (2 possessions), including 1-4 in Big Ten play. Purdue is 5-2 in two-possession games, including 4-1 in the league.
The Nebraska-Purdue series has featured some of the most exciting and memorable games in school history since the Huskers joined the conference in 2011-12. The first-ever game between the two teams was a 93-89 triple-overtime win for the Huskers at Mackey Arena on Feb. 2, 2012. The second game in the series went double-overtime one month later in Indianapolis, as Purdue defeated the Huskers 74-70 in the 2012 Big Ten Championship Game. The first meeting in Lincoln was a 69-66 OT win by Purdue at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Jan. 5, 2013, and two other games have been decided by two points or less (62-61 Nebraska win, Jan. 20, 2016; 77-75 Purdue win, Jan. 19, 2014).
Freshman Leigha Brown (Auburn, Indiana) is Nebraska’s leading scorer at 10.1 points per game, including 11.8 points in Big Ten play. Brown was a runner-up for Indiana Player-of-the-Year honors in 2018. Brown and Sam Haiby (9.5 ppg) give Nebraska the only Big Ten roster with two freshmen leading their team in scoring. The Huskers are also the only Big Ten team with two non-starters as the team’s top two scorers.
Nebraska features the Big Ten’s most productive bench, averaging 30.2 points per game in Big Ten play. Purdue relies extensively on its starters with the Boiler bench averaging just 4.9 points per game in league play.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-11, 4-5 Big Ten)
44 - Kayla Mershon - 6-3 - Fr. - F - 3.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg
31 - Kate Cain - 6-5 - So. - C - 7.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg
3 - Hannah Whitish - 5-9 - Jr. - G - 9.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg
5 - Nicea Eliely - 6-1 - Jr. - G - 7.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg
33 - Taylor Kissinger - 6-1 - So. - G - 9.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg
Off the Bench
32 - Leigha Brown - 6-1 - Fr. - F - 10.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg
4 - Sam Haiby - 5-9 - Fr. - G - 9.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg
13 - Ashtyn Veerbeek - 6-2 - Fr. - F - 7.8 ppg, 5.8 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 (37-44); 12th Season Overall (230-153)
Purdue Boilermakers (15-7, 6-3 Big Ten)
25 - Tamara Farquhar - 6-0 - So. - F - 6.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg
32 - Ae’Rianna Harris - 6-1 - Jr. - F - 13.1 ppg, 9.0 rpg
1 - Karissa McLaughlin - 5-7 - So. - G - 15.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg
11 - Dominique Oden - 5-8 - Jr. - G - 15.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg
23 - Kayana Traylor - 5-9 - Fr. - G - 6.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg
Off the Bench
5 - Cassidy Hardin - 5-10 - Fr. - G - 3.3 ppg, 1.0 rpg
3 - Lyndsey Whilby - 5-11 - So. - G - 2.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg
45 - Fatou Diagne - 6-4 - RJr. - C - 2.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg
30 - Nyagoa Gony - 6-2 - Fr. - F - 1.3 ppg, 1.6 rpg
Head Coach: Sharon Versyp (Purdue, 1989) 13th Season at Purdue (272-154); 19th Season Overall (389-219)
Scouting The Purdue Boilermakers
The Boilermakers own a 15-7 overall record including a 6-3 Big Ten mark after dropping a 72-58 decision at No. 17 Iowa on Sunday. Purdue defeated Iowa in West Lafayette, 62-57, on Jan. 10. Purdue’s other Big Ten losses came with a 65-63 overtime setback at No. 20 Rutgers (Jan. 16), and a 76-69 loss at Wisconsin (Dec. 31).
Purdue is a defense-first team that is allowing just 60.2 points in Big Ten play, while scoring just 62.2 points per conference contest. The Boilermakers are holding Big Ten foes to 41.2 percent shooting, including 35.2 percent from three-point range. Purdue is plus-2.7 on the boards, but minus-1.7 in turnovers through nine league games.
Offensively, Purdue is shooting a solid 42 percent from the field, including 34.8 percent from three-point range. Purdue has outscored its opponents by 34 points (3.8 ppg) at the free throw line in conference play, while attempting 44 more free throws than the opposition. Purdue is shooting 72.2 percent at the free throw line in the league.
Dominique Oden, a 5-8 junior guard, leads Purdue in scoring in Big Ten play (15.9 ppg) and shares the team’s scoring lead for the season (15.5 ppg). Oden is playing 38.0 minutes per Big Ten game.
Sophomore guard Karissa McLaughlin has matched Oden in scoring on the season (15.5 ppg), while adding a team-best 4.0 assists. McLaughlin, who leads the Boilers with 57 threes on the year, is playing 39.4 minutes per game in Big Ten play. She has hit 38.5 percent of her threes on the year and 92.8 percent (64-69) of her free throws.
Ae’Rianna Harris, an athletic 6-1 forward, is averaging 13.1 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game on the season. Harris, who ranks second among the Boilermakers with 25 steals, is averaging 36.2 minutes per Big Ten game.
Tamara Farquhar, a 6-0 sophomore forward from Quebec, has joined McLaughlin, Oden and Harris in Purdue’s starting lineup for all nine conference games. Farquhar is averaging 8.2 points and 8.7 rebounds in 32.1 minutes per Big Ten game. For the season, Farquhar has averaged 6.9 points and 7.5 boards.
Kayana Traylor has rounded out Purdue’s starters in Big Ten play by averaging 5.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists. The 5-9 freshman guard has struggled with her shooting stroke in league play (2-13 3FG, .154) but is still averaging 28.3 minutes per conference game.
Freshman Cassidy Hardin leads Purdue off the bench with 2.0 points in 14.3 minutes per Big Ten game. The 5-10 guard has hit 21 threes on the season, but just five in conference action (5-20, .250). She is the only Boilermaker off the bench with a green light from three-point range.
Purdue leads the all-time series with Nebraska, 7-4, but the Huskers ran to a 75-51 win over the Boilermakers at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln (Jan. 24, 2018) in the most recent meeting.
Nebraska and Purdue will face each other again, this time at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Feb. 10.
- Nebraska sophomore Taylor Kissinger is leading the Big Ten in three-point shooting percentage (.479, 45-94).
- The Husker bench has outscored opponents in each of NU’s 20 games this year, including double-digit advantages 15 times.
- Overall, Nebraska’s bench has outscored opposition benches 629-305 (31.5-15.3 ppg) for a plus-16.2 margin.