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Nebraska WBB vs Indiana Preview

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In a stretch of tough games for the Huskers, this one might be the toughest

Nebraska Cornhuskers (13-2, 2-2 Big Ten) at 6/5 Indiana Hoosiers (12-2, 4-0 Big Ten)

Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, 5 p.m. (CT)

Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall - Bloomington, Indiana

Live TV: BTN (Matt Schumacker, Meghan McKeown)

Live Radio: Huskers Radio Network (4:45 p.m.) Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst) Lincoln (107.3 FM), Omaha (ESPN 590 AM), Huskers.com, Huskers App

Nebraska will be looking to bounce back from its second Big Ten setback after suffering a 95-86 loss to then-No. 22 Iowa on Sunday at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln. The Hawkeyes shot nearly 62 percent from the field against a Husker defense that leads the conference in field goal percentage defense. Iowa’s 95 points were 23 more than any other Big Red opponent had mustered this season.

The Huskers were tied with Iowa at 81 before faltering down the stretch, and took the loss despite attempting 23 more field goals than Iowa thanks to a season-high 23 offensive rebounds and a plus-six turnover margin.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (13-2, 2-2 Big Ten)
40 - Alexis Markowski - 6-3 - Fr. - F/C - 9.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg
34 - Isabelle Bourne - 6-2 - So. - F - 10.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg
0 - Ashley Scoggin - 5-7 - RSo. - G - 9.2 ppg, 1.1 rpg
1 - Jaz Shelley - 5-9 - So. - G - 13.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg
4 - Sam Haiby - 5-9 - Jr. - G - 11.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg

Off the Bench
14 - Bella Cravens - 6-3 - Jr. - F - 7.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg
21 - Annika Stewart - 6-3 - Fr. - F - 6.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg
3 - Allison Weidner - 5-10 - Fr. - G - 5.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg
32 - Kendall Coley - 6-2 - Fr. - F/G - 3.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg
11 - Ruby Porter - 5-10 - Fr. - G - 3.0 ppg, 0.8 rpg
5 - MiCole Cayton - 5-9 - Gr. - G - 2.1 ppg, 0.9 rpg
15 - Kendall Moriarty - 6-1 - Fr. - G - 1.6 ppg, 0.4 rpg
10 - Whitney Brown - 5-8 - Fr. - G - 1.7 ppg, 0.7 rpg

Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998)Sixth Season at Nebraska (85-77); 15th Season Overall (278-186)

6/5 Indiana Hoosiers (12-2, 4-0 Big Ten)
10 - Aleksa Gulbe - 6-3 - Sr. - F - 10.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg
54 - Mackenzie Holmes - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 17.9 ppg, 8.2 rpg
4 - Nicole Cardaño-Hillary - 5-6 - Gr. - G - 10.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg
14 - Ali Patberg - 5-11 - Gr. - G - 12.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg
34 - Grace Berger - 6-0 - Sr. - G - 13.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg

Off the Bench
23 - Kiandra Browne - 6-2 - So. - F - 3.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg
22 - Chloe Moore-McNeil - 5-11 - So. - G - 3.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg
1 - Kaitlin Peterson - 5-9 - Fr. - G - 1.8 ppg, 0.8 rpg
3 - Grace Waggoner - 6-0 - Jr. - G - 0.4 ppg, 0.7 rpg
24 - Mona Zaric - 6-2 - Fr. - F - 0.0 ppg, 0.2 rpg
25 - Arielle Wisne - 6-5 - RSo. - C - 0.0 ppg, 0.3 rpg
21 - Keyarah Berry - 5-9 - Fr. - G - 0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg

Head Coach: Teri Moren (Purdue, 1992) Eighth Season at Indiana (160-82); 19th Season Overall (359-212)

Indiana is riding a seven-game winning streak after a 76-53 victory at Wisconsin (Jan. 5). The Hoosiers have had seven days off from competition to prepare for the Huskers. The Hoosiers will be playing just their third game in 25 days after having a non-conference game with Wright State (Dec. 21) canceled and a Big Ten game at Rutgers (Dec. 30) postponed.

Indiana opened the new year with an impressive 70-63 win over then-No. 6 Maryland in Bloomington (Jan. 2), before running to victory at Wisconsin. The Hoosiers opened Big Ten action with a 70-40 pounding of Penn State (Dec. 6), before adding an 86-66 win at then-No. 20 Ohio State (Dec. 12). IU played a strong non-conference slate that included an 88-67 win over No. 13 Kentucky (Nov. 14), before suffering its only losses to defending national champion and current AP No. 2 Stanford (69-66, Nov. 25) and then-AP No. 2 (current No. 4) NC State (66-58, Dec. 2).

Indiana’s scoring attack among their experienced starting lineup is very well balanced. The Hoosiers don’t play much of their bench (four of the starters average 34 minutes/game and the fifth 29 minutes).

Grace Berger, a preseason All-Big Ten choice and a national player-of-the-year candidate, is averaging 13.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and a team-leading 4.9 assists per game. Ali Patberg, a sixth-year guard and a national player-of-the-year candidate, has added 12.6 points 3.9 assists, while fifth-year guard Cardaño-Hillary has contributed 10.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and a team-best 1.7 steals. Cardaño-Hillary also leads IU from long range (23-56, .411) while Patberg has knocked down 38.1 percent (16-42) of her three-point attempts.

All-Big Ten forward Mackenzie Holmes leads Indiana in scoring (17.9 ppg) and rebounding (8.2 rpg) while making 61.5 percent of her field goals and 77.6 percent (38-49) of her free throws. The 6-3 junior also has knocked down 5-of-11 threes (.455) and ranks among Big Ten leaders with 26 blocks.

Senior Aleksa Gulbe rounds out a Hoosier lineup that has featured the same five starters for all 14 games this season. The 6-3 Gulbe is averaging 10.4 points and 6.4 rebounds while hitting 15-of-41 three-pointers and a team-best 84.4 percent (27-32) of her free throws.

The Huskers have shown they can be susceptible to teams that bully them and dictate the pace of the game. Indiana has the talent, balance and experience to do just that. Nebraska certainly can win this game, but they’ll need a near-flawless performance while Indiana (IMO) has more room for errors or breakdowns to still come away with the win, especially at home.

The Hoosiers are not going to try and overwhelm Nebraska offensively (the way Iowa did) but they lead the conference in scoring defense and will attack the paint early and often (which will definitely be an issue for Nebraska if Markowski gets in foul trouble and Bella Cravens is still unavailable). Nebraska has two of the better three-point shooters in the conference in Jaz Shelley and Ashley Scoggin (Anni Stewart probably deserves a mention there as well). If they are “on” and keep the Hoosier defense spaced out, that will obviously benefit Issie Bourne and Alexis Markowski inside as well as opening opportunities for the slashers, Haiby and Weidner.

Indiana might have some rust after only playing three games in 25 days, but I wouldn’t count on that (especially with such an experienced lineup). Amy Williams will need to use her team’s depth to her advantage to push the pace and use different lineup combinations to try and keep Indiana from getting too comfortable on defense. This game will be a big challenge for the Huskers, but if they play confidently and shoot well, they have a “shot” at the upset.

Go Big Red!