Previewing Nebraska's opening game against Chattanooga.
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NU's Lindsey Moore vs. UC's Kayla Christopher. Moore is one of the best point guards in college basketball, a likely WNBA draft pick who saved her most polished season for this year, averaging 15.1 points and 5.5 assists. She rarely turns it over and rarely makes a major defensive mistake. If the game is close in the final minutes, Moore wants the ball and looks for her shot. Christopher isn't a classic point guard, but she is Chattanooga's best 3-point shooter and one of its best defenders. She can be turnover-prone. Edge: Nebraska
NU's Rachel Theriot vs. UC's Alex Black. Theriot has grown from a hesitant freshman two months ago to a consistent third/fourth scoring option. She can hit the 15-foot jumper and became a passable (32 percent) 3-point shooter. More important, she can run the point when Moore needs a breather. Theriot tends to score in bunches. Black shoots a lot of 3s and makes only 29 percent. She doesn't get to the line much, averages two turnovers per game and is not a defensive stopper. Edge: Nebraska
NU's Hailie Sample vs. UC's Kylie Lambert. It's a homecoming for Sample, who hails from Flower Mound, Texas. She's improved her repertoire of offensive moves around the rim, but Sample's job is to be a perimeter defender who forces the ball away from her coverage assignment. She's a good rebounder, averaging 4.4 per game. Lambert is a good rebounder — 4.9 per game — who makes only 32 percent of her shots overall. She, too, can be a good defender who makes a steal per game. Edge: Even
NU's Jordan Hooper vs. UC's Taylor Hall. An All-Big Ten first-teamer, Hooper is a shooter with a constant green light and little conscience. She shoots early, often and without fear. What she's added is a low-post toughness that allows her to score even when she isn't hitting the 3-ball. She's also NU's best rebounder and post defender. Hall is a versatile player who attempts too many 3s (more than three per game), makes only 26 percent of them, and otherwise struggles to make shots. She's a good passer and the team's second-best rebounder. Edge: Nebraska
NU's Emily Cady vs. UC's Ashlen Dewart. Cady is Nebraska's Swiss Army knife, good for a variety of roles. Good passer. Tough rebounder. Handy on a fast break. When she's on, Nebraska's a much more balanced team. When she's average, the Huskers don't have enough frontcourt players to adequately replace what she brings. Dewart is the Lady Moc in the middle, the one player for which Nebraska doesn't have an easy, tidy matchup. She averages 15.5 points and 7.2 rebounds — those numbers improved in-conference — and draws double teams that free up open shooters. Because she makes 59.6 percent of her free throws, fouling is an option. But she's strong and skilled from inside 10 feet. Edge: Even
BENCH: NU's Connie Yori uses four players. Forwards Meghin Williams and Katie Simon are reserve frontcourt players who can come in and eat minutes while Hooper or Cady rest. Guards Tear'a Laudermill and Brandi Jeffery, meanwhile, are energizers who can get a steal, hit a 3, or start a break. Laudermill, in particular, seems to have embraced her role as a defensive stopper who can get inside the head of an opponent. Chattanooga's bench is deeper, featuring several guards who can pass and play defense. Other than Ka'vonne Towns — who hits 40 percent of her 3-pointers — none is a particularly dynamic offensive threat. Edge: Even
THE PICK: Chattanooga is a dangerous No. 11 seed. The Lady Mocs are physical, they have a true post player and they can bring a lot of athletes to stay fresh. But a team that hits 31 percent of its 3-pointers and 64 percent of its free throws is hard to trust. UC got plenty of easy buckets this year with steals, but Moore isn't prone to those mistakes. The Huskers have the better team and have faced better competition, but they'd be smart to start very strong and leave UC with a sliver of hope. If they slumber through the opening 10 minutes, Chattanooga can slow the game down, ugly it up, and hope that the officials don't whistle too many fouls. The Huskers win Round 1, but not by much.
— NEBRASKA 62, CHATTANOOGA 55