The World-Herald's Sam McKewon compiled everything you need to know about Nebraska women's basketball's game at Michigan State.
Tuesday's game will tip off at noon, and will be broadcast on BTN and on 590 AM (Omaha); 107.3 FM (Lincoln) radio.
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Michigan State (7-5, 0-1)
C — Victoria Gaines 6-3 Sr. 4.2
F — Nia Holley 6-0 Sr. 3.2
G — Shay Colley 5-9 Sr. 9.7
G — Taryn McCutcheon 5-5 Sr. 11.2
G — Nia Clouden 5-8 So. 15.7
Nebraska (11-1, 1-0)
C — Kate Cain 6-5 Jr. 10.6
F — Ashtyn Veerbeek 6-2 So.8.9
G — Sam Haiby 5-9 So. 10.7
G — Nicea Eliely 6-1 Sr. 8.5
G — Hannah Whitish 5-9 Sr. 7.9
Scouting Michigan State: The Spartans have been to nine NCAA tournaments in coach Suzy Merchant’s 13-year career; this bunch looks like one that might miss the Big Dance. MSU is experienced but scoring-challenged, and also lacking any quality wins. The team is on a three-game losing streak after setbacks to Syracuse, West Virginia and Indiana. The Spartans play excellent defense — 12 steals per game attest to that — and have a strong backcourt duo of Clouden and Taryn McCutcheon. Clouden, a former five-star recruit, gets to the foul line more than six times per game and, if she’s hitting her 3s, is one of the Big Ten’s best scorers. MSU has generally struggled with frontcourt scoring and depth; that’s one area where NU should have a big edge. If MSU is hitting its 3-pointers, it could be a tough one for Nebraska to steal on the road. If not, NU has a genuine shot at a 4-0 start in the league.
Scouting Nebraska: The Huskers received their first Associated Press Top 25 vote on Monday — a single vote for 25th — and could, with two wins, vault into the Top 25. Michigan State on the road and No. 24 Minnesota at home may do the trick. Nebraska played one of its best games in two years in the win over Iowa, in part because the Huskers never lost the lead in the second half. It wasn’t a streaky, up-and-down win, but a consistent victory, and some of that can be attributed to NU’s strong frontcourt play. Cain, Veerbeek, Isabelle Bourne, Kayla Mershon and Grace Mitchell combined for 29 points and 23 rebounds on Saturday — the rebounds are perhaps a bigger deal than the points — and Bourne, despite foul trouble, had eight points and seven rebounds. The Australian import, a true freshman, is making steady improvement as she acclimates to American basketball and what Nebraska wants from her. Over the course of her career, Bourne has played for 15 coaches, she estimated.
“She just has such a high basketball IQ and had to play for Australia 3 on 3, different coaches in the national system, she’s played in the (Australian) Centre of Excellence, she’s played for different clubs and organizations and had to adjust her style to the way they want her to play the game,” coach Amy Williams said of Bourne. “For us, it’s just kind of learning what we like her to do, learning two positions for us, bouncing back and forth between the 4 and the 5. It just takes a little bit of time to get comfortable with that and get comfortable with your teammates, but we feel like she’s really progressing nicely.”
Notes: NU’s RPI, as of Monday, was up to 74. ... The Huskers have an 8-3 edge all time on Michigan State, including a 5-0 record at home. ... Whitish has enjoyed a strong career against MSU, averaging 17.8 points, four rebounds and 4.3 assists per game in four contests. ... There were zero upsets in the opening weekend of Big Ten play unless one counts Nebraska’s win over Iowa.