Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-1) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (9-2)
Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, 1 p.m. (CT)
Pinnacle Bank Arena (15,000) - Lincoln, Neb.
Live Video: BTN+
Live Radio: Husker Sports Network (12:45 p.m.)Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst) Lincoln - B107.3 FM; Omaha-ESPN 590 AM, Huskers.com, Huskers App, TuneIn
Saturday’s game between the Huskers and Hawkeyes features a pair of Big Ten teams receiving votes in the Associated Press Poll (Dec. 23) although Iowa sits at #16 in RPI while Nebraska is at #101. Both teams have had strong non-conference seasons to prepare for league play. The all-time series between Nebraska and Iowa is knotted at 14 wins apiece.
Nebraska sophomore Leigha Brown leads Nebraska and ranks 11th in the Big Ten in scoring (14.7 ppg) after her season-high 25-point effort against Manhattan (Dec. 22). Brown added five rebounds and four assists against the Jaspers to earn a spot on the Big Ten Weekly Honor Roll (Dec. 23). Brown is a top contender for Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year honors. She is the only non-starter in the Big Ten averaging more than 12 points per game.
Fellow sophomore Sam Haiby earned spots on the Big Ten Weekly Honor Roll (Nov. 11, Dec. 16) after big performances in Husker wins. Haiby, who had 10 points and six assists in the win over Manhattan (Dec. 22), earned her second honor roll spot with 20 points in a win over Oral Roberts (Dec. 14). She claimed her first weekly honor with a career-high 28 points in a win at Missouri (Nov. 10). Haiby ranks second among the Huskers with 10.7 points per game.
Junior Kate Cain has scored in double figures in five of Nebraska’s last six games. She ranks third among the Huskers in scoring (10.1 ppg), second in rebounding (6.2 rpg) and leads the Huskers and ranks second in the Big Ten in blocks (3.0 bpg). The Lisa Leslie Award candidate needs four blocks on Saturday to catch Catheryn Redmon (216, 2008-11) at No. 2 on Nebraska’s career block list.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-1, 0-0 Big Ten)
13 - Ashtyn Veerbeek - 6-2 - So. - F - 9.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg
31 - Kate Cain - 6-5 - Jr. - C - 10.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg
3 - Hannah Whitish - 5-9 - Sr. - G - 7.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg
4 - Sam Haiby - 5-9 - So. - G - 10.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg
5 - Nicea Eliely - 6-1 - Sr. - G - 8.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg
Off the Bench
32 - Leigha Brown - 6-1 - So. - F - 14.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg
34 - Isabelle Bourne - 6-2 - Fr. - F - 4.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg
14 - Grace Mitchell - 6-2 - Sr. - F - 2.5 ppg, 1.7 rpg
44 - Kayla Mershon - 6-3 - So. - F - 2.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg
2 - Trinity Brady - 5-11 - Fr. - G - 2.0 rpg, 4.0 rpg
11 - Kristian Hudson - 5-5 - RSr. - G - 1.4 ppg, 1.1 rpg
1 - Makenzie Helms - 5-8 - Fr. - G - 0.4 ppg, 0.6 rpg
Out for Season33 - Taylor Kissinger - 6-1 - Jr. - G - 8.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg
Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998)Fourth Season at Nebraska (52-50); 13th Season Overall (245-159)
Iowa Hawkeyes (9-2, 0-0 Big Ten)
43 - Amanda Ollinger - 6-1 - Sr. - F - 6.6 ppg, 8.7 rpg
25 - Monika Czinano - 6-3 - So. - F/C - 15.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg
3 - Makenzie Meyer - 5-9 - Sr. - G - 15.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg
5 - Alexis Sevillian - 5-5 - Jr. - G - 6.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg
22 - Kathleen Doyle - 5-9 - Sr. - G - 15.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg
Off the Bench
24 - Gabbie Marshall - 5-6 - Fr. - G - 7.0 ppg, 0.9 rpg
14 - McKenna Warnock - 6-1 - Fr. - G/F - 6.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg
20 - Kate Martin - 6-0 - So. - G - 3.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg
1 - Tomi Taiwo - 5-10 - So. - G - 2.8 ppg, 1.0 rpg
23 - Logan Cook - 6-1 - So. - F - 2.3 ppg, 1.2 rpg
11 - Megan Meyer - 5-8 - Fr. - G - 2.3 ppg, 0.3 rpg
21 - Zion Sanders - 5-8 - Jr. - G - 0.7 ppg, 0.3 rpg
31 - Paula Valiño Ramos - 6-3 - Jr. - F/C - 0.0 ppg, 1.3 rpg
Head Coach: Lisa Bluder (Northern Iowa, 1983)20th Season at Iowa (405-219); 36th Season Overall (761-361)
Iowa comes to Lincoln to open Big Ten Conference play with a four-game winning streak that includes wins over in-state rivals Iowa State (75-69, Dec. 11) and Drake (79-67, Dec. 21), and a Big Ten/ACC Challenge game victory over Clemson (76-60, Dec. 4).• Like the Huskers, the Hawkeyes are unbeaten in December, suffering their last loss to Washington (70-63, Nov. 30) at the Puerto Rico Clasico. The only other loss for the Hawkeyes came in an 88-68 setback at Northern Iowa (88-66, Nov. 17).
This should be a very interesting game in that both teams are still a bit unsure as to what they are really made of. Iowa lost a ton of talent to graduation last year but have a top notch coach and are led on the floor by a senior point guard who is a likely all-conference player season’s end. The fact that the Hawkeyes are performing at such a high level despite all the attrition to graduation makes them a dangerous team that is likely to only get better as the season continues.
The Huskers are clearly a better defensive team than a year ago and have forged an offensive identity around the sophomores and a rejuvenated Kate Cain but they have played a fairly lackluster schedule in the non-con. There are still significant lapses in focus on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball at times and Nebraska has not been great at the end of quarters or games (mostly). The Huskers are a veteran team that has been able to overcome those lapses and find ways to win games, but the Big Ten is a different animal. We should find out quickly if the improved record for Nebraska is smoke and mirrors or if they can rise to the challenge of conference play.