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Nebraska WBB vs Michigan State Preview

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Another ranked team awaits the Huskers in East Lansing

Scott Bruhn

Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten) at 23/24 Michigan State Spartans (8-1, 3-1 Big Ten)

Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, 2 p.m. (CT)

Breslin Center - East Lansing, Michigan

Live Video: B1G Network+

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

Michigan State and Nebraska will both be looking to bounce back from narrow Thursday night losses to top-15 foes. Nebraska suffered a 64-62 setback at No. 15 Michigan. The Huskers rallied from 11 points down in the fourth quarter and got a steal and a last-second half-court heave by Bella Cravens that got off in time but did not draw iron, as Nebraska was the first team this season to play Michigan (8-0, 3-0 Big Ten) within single digits. The Huskers also held the Wolverines 24 points under their season scoring average and forced season-low shooting percentages by Michigan in every category.

The Spartans fell 93-87 to No. 12 Maryland after trailing by 11 points at the start of the fourth quarter. It was the first loss of the season for the Spartans, denying them a 9-0 start that would have been the best in school history.

Sam Haiby led Nebraska at Michigan with 27 points and nine rebounds. The Big Red’s leading scorer, Haiby is averaging 17.3 points per game on the season, including 19.7 points per game in Big Ten play. Haiby enters the Michigan State game leading Nebraska in scoring (17.3 ppg), assists (3.8 apg) and steals (1.3 spg) while tying for second on the team in rebounding (7.3 rpg).

Sophomore Isabelle Bourne also has solidified herself as a rising star in the Big Ten. The 6-2 forward from Canberra, Australia notched back-to-back double-doubles in wins over No. 15 Northwestern (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Rutgers (11 points, 12 rebounds). Bourne enters the Michigan State game ranked second among the Huskers in scoring (13.6 ppg), rebounding (7.3 rpg), assists (2.1 apg) and blocks (1.1 bpg).

Kate Cain, a 6-5 center from Middletown, N.Y., joins Haiby and Bourne as Nebraska’s tri-captains in 2020-21. Cain is averaging 2.6 blocks per game this season to go along with 8.0 points and 6.0 rebounds.

Ashley Scoggin has stepped into a major role in her first year as a Husker. The 22-year-old redshirt sophomore has started all eight games and is averaging 7.4 points while leading Nebraska with 14 made three-pointers (.412).

Junior Bella Cravens also has been a major contributor as a starter in Big Ten play. The 6-3 forward from Laie, Hawaii, is averaging 7.2 points and a team-best 9.2 rebounds in conference games.

Scouting the Michigan State Spartans

No. 23 Michigan State is off to one of the best starts in school history, carrying an 8-1 overall record and a 3-1 Big Ten mark. The Spartans played a full slate of five non-conference games and went 3-0 against unranked Big Ten foes (Minnesota, Iowa, Purdue) before suffering a narrow 93-87 loss to No. 12 Maryland in East Lansing on Thursday night.

Junior Nia Clouden leads Michigan State as one of the Big Ten’s top scorers. A second-team All-Big Ten choice last season, Clouden is averaging 20.6 points per game, including 25.3 points in conference action after her career-high 32-point effort against Maryland on Thursday.

Sophomore Alyza Winston provides Michigan State with its most consistent three-point threat while ranking second on the team in scoring at 13.9 points per game. The 5-7 Winston has hit 17-of-43 threes (.395) and is 10-of-12 (.833) at the free throw line.

Julia Ayrault adds another three-point threat while adding size. The 6-2 sophomore from Grosse Point Woods, Mich., ranks third on the team in scoring (11.7 ppg) while leading the Spartans in rebounding (6.3 rpg) and blocked shots (1.3 bpg). Ayrault leads the team in defensive rebounds (38) and is tied for second on the team with 12 steals. She also ranks third on the team with 10 made threes (.333) and has hit 79.2 percent of her free throws.

The Spartans also have a deep and experienced bench that includes former Penn State starter Alisia Smith (8.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Ohio State starter Janai Crooms (3.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg). Both are juniors.

As a team, Michigan State (82.1 ppg) is Nebraska’s fourth consecutive opponent to enter the game averaging better than 80 points per contest. The Spartans are hitting 46.8 percent of their shots from the field, including 31.4 percent (58-185) from three-point range. MSU is hitting 69.2 percent of its free throws. The Spartans carry a plus-4.4 rebound margin and a plus-5.8 turnover margin, but in Big Ten play, MSU has been out-rebounded 39.5-38.2 and its turnover margin has shrunk to plus-3.8.

NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS (5-4, 3-3 BIG TEN)

No. Player Ht. Yr. Pos. PPG RPG
14 Bella Cravens 6-3 Jr. F 6.2 7.4
34 Isabelle Bourne 6-2 So. F 13.6 7.3
31 Kate Cain 6-5 Gr./Sr.C 8.0 6.0
0 Ashley Scoggin 5-7 RSo. G 7.4 1.9
4 Sam Haiby 5-9 Jr. G 17.3 7.3

Off the Bench
2 Trinity Brady 5-11 So. G 8.5 5.0
21 Annika Stewart 6-3 Fr. F 5.9 3.8
10 Whitney Brown 5-8 Fr. G 2.8 1.8
11 Ruby Porter 5-10 Fr. G 1.9 1.3
5 MiCole Cayton 5-9 Gr./RJr. G DNP

Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998) Fifth Season at Nebraska (64-66)14th Season Overall (257-175)

23/24 MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (8-1, 3-1 BIG TEN)

No. Player Ht. Yr. Pos. PPG RPG
1 Tory Ozment 6-1 Jr. G/F 7.8 3.8
14 Taiyier Parks 6-3 So. F 7.9 6.2
3 Alyza Winston 5-7 So. G 13.9 1.0
24 Nia Clouden 5-8 Jr. G 20.6 3.3
40 Julia Ayrault 6-2 So. G 11.7 6.3

Off the Bench
4 Alisia Smith 6-3 Jr. F 8.7 5.0
44 Kendall Bostic 6-2 Fr. F 6.3 4.1
22 Moira Joiner 5-10 So. G 5.1 2.0
2 Mardrekia Cook 6-0 RSr. F 3.9 4.4
23 Janai Crooms 5-10 Jr. G 3.3 3.0
12 Lauren Rewers 6-4 Gr. C 2.4 1.6
21 Laurel Jacqmain 5-8 RSr.G 1.8 0.4

Head Coach: Suzy Merchant (Central Michigan, 1991) 14th Season at Michigan State (289-149) 25th Season Overall (490-269)