We will have a game thread tonight at 6:45 pm (CT)
Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-0) vs. Southern Jaguars (2-2)
Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, 7 pm (CT)
Pinnacle Bank Arena (15,000) - Lincoln
Live Video: BTN+ (Student U) Live Radio: Husker Sports Network (6:45 p.m.)Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst) Lincoln-B107.3 FM; Omaha-CD 105.9 FM; Huskers.com; Huskers App
The Huskers have shown a lot of grit and improvements (especially on defense) in this young season so far. Tonight, Nebraska will try to open the season 5-0 for the first time under Coach Amy Williams. The last Husker team to open 5-0 was the 2014-15 Nebraska team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Through four games, Nebraska’s defense is allowing an average of 58.8 points per game while holding opponents to 31.7 percent shooting from the field and 21.5 percent success from three-point range. Last season, Nebraska allowed an average of 70.1 points per game, while opponents shot 41.1 percent from the field and 33.4 percent from long range.
Southern University comes to Lincoln with a 2-2 record after a narrow 69-63 loss at Wichita State on Sunday afternoon. The Jaguars own wins over Wiley and Tougaloo, and a loss at Iowa State to open the season at Hilton Coliseum in Ames on Nov. 7. The defending Southwestern Athletic Conference champions, Southern went 20-13 overall and 14-4 in the SWAC last season to advance to the first round of the NCAA Tournament to play Mississippi State. Southern, which is the preseason pick to win the SWAC, returns three starters and seven letterwinners from last year’s squad.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
13 - Ashtyn Veerbeek - 6-2 - So. - F - 10.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg
31 - Kate Cain - 6-5 - Jr. - C - 7.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg
3 - Hannah Whitish - 5-9 - Sr. - G - 8.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg
4 - Sam Haiby - 5-9 - So. - G - 13.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg
5 - Nicea Eliely - 6-1 - Sr. - G - 9.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg
Off the Bench
32 - Leigha Brown - 6-1 - So. - F - 15.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg
33 - Taylor Kissinger - 6-1 - Jr. - G - 4.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg
34 - Isabelle Bourne - 6-2 - Fr. - F - 3.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg
14 - Grace Mitchell - 6-2 - Sr. - F - 2.3 ppg, 1.3 rpg
44 - Kayla Mershon - 6-3 - So. - F - 1.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg
11 - Kristian Hudson - 5-5 - RSr. - G - 1.8 ppg, 1.0 rpg
1 - Makenzie Helms - 5-8 - Fr. - G - 0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg
2 - Trinity Brady - 5-11 - Fr. - G - 0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg
Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998) Fourth Season at Nebraska (46-49); 13th Season Overall (239-158)
Southern Jaguars (2-2, 0-0 SWAC)
2 - Alyric Scott - 5-10 - Jr. - G - 9.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg
24 - Jaden Towner - 5-10 - Sr. - G - 4.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg
44 - Raven White - 6-1 - Fr. - F - 6.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg
0 - Caitlin Davis - 5-6 - Jr. - G - 4.3 ppg, 1.3 rpg
11 - Brittany Rose - 5-9 - Sr. - G - 14.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg
Off the Bench
25 - Genovea Johnson - 5-8 - Fr. - G - 9.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg
20 - Amani McWain - 5-8 - So. - G - 6.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg
5 - Nakia Kincey - 5-6 - Jr. - G - 5.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg
22 - Taneara Moore - 6-0 - So. - F - 4.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg
32 - Ceundra McGhee - 6-3 - So. - P - 2.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg
4 - Chloe Fleming - 5-6 - Fr. - G - 1.8 ppg, 1.0 rpg
Head Coach: Carlos Funchess (ULM, 1992)Second Season at Southern (22-15); Second Season Overall: (22-15)
The Huskers have shown that they can adjust to what an opposing team throws at them and find a way to score points. The sophomores form the offensive core of the team thus far, but any of Nebraska’s top six players have shown an ability to score points when needed. In a bit of a surprise, senior guard Nicea Eliely is leading the Huskers in rebounding, but all of Nebraska’s guards have stepped up their rebounding significantly (to my eyes).
The team is also shooting 78% from the free throw line. The improved free throw shooting has been huge in two of the Husker wins so far and the improved defense is at least part of the reason for the improved rebounding. The emphasis on rebounding appears to have reduced the transition opportunities for Nebraska, but I think the increase in offensive weapons (namely the sophomores) means that tradeoff is worth making. The Huskers can set up the half court defense and be reasonably certain that someone will either get open or create an opportunity to score.
Setting the defensive tone, controlling the pace of the game and hitting free throws will be keys when Nebraska gets to the conference schedule. The teams they have played thus far have challenged their composure and commitment to that style, but the Huskers have been up to the challenge. I expect Southern to do the same, challenge passes and try to disrupt the Nebraska offense. Hannah Whitish’s ability to diagnose and find the weak spots in the Jaguar defense will be key to the game tonight.