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Nebraska WBB vs Michigan State (Round Two) Preview

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It is Senior Day for Kate Cain and Taylor Kissinger

Scott Bruhn

Nebraska Cornhuskers (11-10, 9-9 Big Ten) vs. Michigan State Spartans (12-7, 7-7 Big Ten)
Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, 1 p.m. (CT)
Pinnacle Bank Arena - Lincoln, Nebraska
Live Video: B1G Network+
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

The Huskers won the first matchup with Michigan State and are looking to send senior Kate Cain off in style. Fellow senior Taylor Kissinger unfortunately had to medically retire from basketball before the season started due to a lingering hip injury that sidelined her a significant portion of her junior year. When these two players signed with Nebraska four years ago, they were ranked high enough to make a Top 20 recruiting class by themselves.

Both have made significant contributions to the program with Cain owning 1,035 points, 750 rebounds and 344 career blocks. The 6-5 center from Middletown, N.Y., ranks No. 6 in Big Ten history and No. 2 among active NCAA Division I players in blocks. Kissinger, a Nebraska native, was one of the best three point shooters in the country before injuries derailed her career.

This is another game that I have a hard time predicting. Both teams have played very well at times and, uh, not so well at others. The Huskers could win this game. They could also lose by double digits. That will be half the fun - figuring out which Husker team will show up.

Scouting the Spartans

Michigan State carries a 12-7 overall record that includes a 7-7 Big Ten mark to Lincoln, hoping to salvage a season series split with the Huskers. Nebraska escaped from East Lansing with a 68-64 victory over the then-No. 23 Spartans on Jan. 10.

The Spartans were off to one of the best starts in school history, carrying an 8-1 record into the first meeting with the Huskers with their lone loss coming to Maryland on Jan. 7. However, after opening Big Ten play 3-0, the Spartans have gone just 4-7 in the league. MSU also had games at Ohio State, to Indiana, to Michigan and at Illinois postponed by COVID-19 protocols.

Junior Nia Clouden leads Michigan State as one of the Big Ten’s top scorers. A second-team All-Big Ten choice in 2019-20, Clouden is averaging 18.6 points per game also leads Michigan State with 4.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game. She is the only Spartan to start all 19 games.

Sophomore guard Alyza Winston (10.6 ppg) and junior forward Alisia Smith (10.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg) join Clouden in averaging double figures. Winston is MSU’s top three-point threat with 33 makes (.375). Smith, a Penn State transfer who has played in 13 games with nine starts, had her first double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Purdue (Feb. 21).

Tory Ozment started each of MSU’s first 10 games, including 11 points and four assists in the loss to Nebraska. Ozment was affected by MSU’s COVID pause and did not return to action until a loss at Indiana (Jan. 31) when she played just 12 minutes off the bench. She played no more than 21 minutes and scored no more than seven points until scoring 10 in 29 minutes as a starter in the loss to Rutgers. The 6-1 wing is averaging 6.9 points and 3.1 boards on the season.

As a team, Michigan State is averaging 76.1 points - down six points per game from the first meeting with the Huskers. MSU is allowing 68.6 points per contest. The Spartans are hitting 45.4 percent of their shots, including 32.4 percent of their threes, but just 68.1 percent of their free throws.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (11-10, 9-9 BIG TEN)

No. Player Ht. Yr. Pos. PPG RPG
34 Isabelle Bourne 6-2 So. F 13.9 8.2
31 Kate Cain 6-5 Gr./Sr.C 10.2 6.3
0 Ashley Scoggin 5-7 RSo. G 7.8 2.3
4 Sam Haiby 5-9 Jr. G 17.1 6.9
11 Ruby Porter 5-10 Fr. G 4.7 2.2

Off the Bench
2 Trinity Brady 5-11 So. G 8.5 5.0
14 Bella Cravens 6-3 Jr. F 6.5 7.6
21 Annika Stewart 6-3 Fr. F 6.4 3.0
10 Whitney Brown 5-8 Fr. G 3.4 1.2
5 MiCole Cayton 5-9 Gr./RJr. G 2.2 0.8
32 Kendall Coley 6-2 Fr. F/G 1.6 0.7

Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998) Fifth Season at Nebraska (70-72) 14th Season Overall (263-181)

Michigan State Spartans (12-7, 7-7 BIG TEN)

No. Player Ht. Yr. Pos. PPG RPG
1 Tory Ozment 6-1 Jr. G/F 6.9 3.1
4 Alisia Smith 6-3 Jr. F 10.0 5.9
3 Alyza Winston 5-7 So. G 10.6 1.1
23 Janai Crooms 5-10 Jr. G 5.1 3.3
24 Nia Clouden 5-8 Jr. G 18.6 3.8

Off the Bench
40 Julia Ayrault 6-2 So. G 9.1 4.9
14 Taiyier Parks 6-3 So. F 7.7 5.7
22 Moira Joiner 5-10 So. G 5.0 1.9
44 Kendall Bostic 6-2 Fr. F 4.3 3.3
2 Mardrekia Cook 6-0 RSr. F 3.9 2.9
20 Jayla James 6-1 So. G 1.4 1.0

Head Coach: Suzy Merchant (Central Michigan, 1991) 14th Season at Michigan State (293-155) 25th Season Overall (494-275)