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Huskers hope to slow surging Buckeyes

Huskers hope to slow surging Buckeyes
(NU Athletic Communications)

The Nebraska women’s basketball team will face its fifth RPI Top 25 opponent in the last six games, when the Huskers complete a two-game season series at Ohio State on Wednesday. Tip-off between the Huskers (16-10, 6-9 Big Ten) and the surging Buckeyes (16-9, 9-5 Big Ten) is set for 6 p.m. (CT) at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Live radio coverage of Wednesday’s game can be heard on B107.3 FM and 1400 AM KLIN in Lincoln and ESPN 590 AM in Omaha beginning at 5:45 p.m. (CT). Stations across the state will also carry the broadcast on the Learfield IMG College Husker Sports Network. Free live audio can be found at, the Huskers App and on TuneIn.

Live video will be provided by Ohio State for BTN+ subscribers.

Nebraska suffered a 60-56 loss at RPI No. 12 Northwestern on Sunday. The Huskers held a 56-51 lead with 2:45 left, but the Wildcats scored the game’s final nine points to escape with the victory and extend their winning streak to five games. Northwestern improved to 22-3 and 12-2 in the Big Ten.

It was Nebraska’s fifth loss in the last six games, but four of those have come to current RPI Top 25, including an 80-74 overtime setback to RPI No. 23 Ohio State in Lincoln on Feb. 2. Four of Nebraska’s last five losses have been by two possessions.

While the Huskers have played well but struggled to earn victories, the young Buckeyes head into Wednesday’s game riding a five-game winning streak that began with the overtime win at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Ohio State is averaging 83.8 points over the past five contest, including an 80-74 win at RPI No. 18 Indiana in Bloomington on Sunday.

Kate Cain continues to rewrite the Nebraska record book for blocked shots. The 6-5 center from Middletown, N.Y., has smashed the Husker career mark with 272 blocks in 88 games. The previous record, which stood for 38 years, was 238 blocks in 136 games by Janet Smith (1979-82).

Cain had seven blocks and a career-high four steals to go along with her fifth Big Ten double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds at Northwestern on Sunday. Cain accounted for 22 defensive stops against the Wildcats.

Cain has pushed her Nebraska junior season record total to 93 blocks – the second-best season total overall in school history, trailing only her 100 blocks as a freshman in 2017-18. Cain, who leads the Big Ten and ranks third nationally with 3.6 blocks per game, is averaging 6.2 blocks the past six games, including eight to go with 14 points and 13 boards in the first meeting with Ohio State.

Nebraska Cornhuskers at Ohio State Buckeyes
Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, 6 p.m. (CT)
Value City Arena (10,049) – Columbus, Ohio
Live Video: BTN+
Live Radio: Husker Sports Network (5:45 p.m.)
Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst)
Lincoln – B107.3 FM, 1400 AM KLIN; Omaha – ESPN 590 AM, Huskers App, TuneIn

Nebraska Cornhuskers (16-10, 6-9 Big Ten)
13 – Ashtyn Veerbeek – 6-2 – So. – F – 7.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg
31 – Kate Cain – 6-5 – Jr. – C – 9.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg
3 – Hannah Whitish – 5-9 – Sr. – G – 9.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg
4 – Sam Haiby – 5-9 – So. – G – 10.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg
5 – Nicea Eliely – 6-1 – Sr. – G – 8.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg
Off the Bench
32 – Leigha Brown – 6-1 – So. – F – 13.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg
34 – Isabelle Bourne – 6-2 – Fr. – F – 6.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg
2 – Trinity Brady – 5-11 – Fr. – G – 1.6 ppg, 1.1 rpg
44 – Kayla Mershon – 6-3 – So. – F – 1.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg
14 – Grace Mitchell – 6-2 – Sr. – F – 1.3 ppg, 1.1 rpg
11 – Kristian Hudson – 5-5 – RSr. – G – 1.0 ppg, 0.8 rpg
1 – Makenzie Helms – 5-8 – Fr. – G – 0.9 ppg, 0.6 rpg
Out for Season
33 – Taylor Kissinger – 6-1 – Jr. – G – 8.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg
Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998)
Fourth Season at Nebraska (58-59); 13th Season Overall (251-168)

Ohio State Buckeyes (16-9, 9-5 Big Ten)
14 – Dorka Juhasz – 6-4 – So. – F – 12.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg
32 – Aaliyah Patty – 6-3 – So. – F – 7.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg
0 – Madison Greene – 5-8 – Fr. – G – 8.1 ppg, 1.4 rpg
4 – Jacy Sheldon – 5-10 – Fr. – G – 9.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg
10 – Braxtin Miller – 5-10 – Jr. – G – 7.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg
Off the Bench
24 – Kierstan Bell – 6-1 – Fr. – G – 11.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg
3 – Janai Crooms – 5-10 – So. – G – 7.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg
23 – Rebeka Mikulasikova – 6-4 – Fr. – F – 7.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg
11 – Aixa Wone Aranaz – 6-3 – Fr. – F – 1.9 ppg, 1.5 rpg
Head Coach: Kevin McGuff (St. Joseph’s College, 1992)
Seventh Season at Ohio State (153-74); 18th Season Overall (408-174)

Scouting the Ohio State Buckeyes
• A young and talented Ohio State team (16-9, 9-5 Big Ten) is riding a five-game win streak that began with an 80-74 overtime win at Nebraska (Feb. 2). The Buckeyes never led in regulation in Lincoln, but outscored the Huskers 15-9 in the fourth quarter and 12-6 in overtime to escape with a victory.
• Sophomore Dorka Juhasz leads the Buckeyes with 12.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. The 6-4 forward from Pecs, Hungary, was a Big Ten All-Freshman selection a year ago. Juhasz can stretch the floor inside-out, knocking down 28 threes on the year. However, she has struggled at the free throw line, hitting just 48.7 percent (37-76) of her attempts. Juhasz had 12 points, 13 rebounds and five steals in the win over Nebraska (Feb. 2).
• Fellow sophomore Aaliyah Patty joins Juhasz on the Buckeye starting front line. The 6-3 Patty, who had 12 points and 12 rebounds in the first meeting with the Huskers, is averaging 7.5 points and 5.4 boards per game.
• Three-time Ohio High School Player-of-the-Year Kierstan Bell ranks second on the team in scoring at 11.3 points. Bell, a 6-1 guard from Canton, has increased her production to 12.2 points in Big Ten play, while coming off the bench. She had 16 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in the win over Nebraska. She is averaging 14.8 points and 8.0 rebounds during OSU’s five-game winning streak.
• Madison Greene, a 5-8 freshman guard from Pickerington, Ohio, has moved into the starting five and is averaging 10.4 points in league action. The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week, Greene averaged 23.5 points and 5.0 assists in last week’s wins over Indiana and Minnesota.
• Freshman Jacy Sheldon has also joined the starting five throughout Big Ten action and is averaging 9.1 points in league play. The 5-10 Sheldon did not score in the first meeting with Nebraska, but the last four games she is averaging 13.5 points per game.
• Junior Braxtin Miller is the most experienced Buckeye, even though she is in her first year in Columbus. The 5-10 guard from Dayton is averaging 7.3 points and 3.4 rebounds after averaging 13.1 points in 62 games at Oklahoma State the past two seasons. She scored all of her game-high 17 points after halftime in Ohio State’s 80-74 OT win at Nebraska (Feb. 2).
• Other significant contributors for a balanced and deep Ohio State squad include sophomore guard Janai Crooms (7.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg), who was a starter early for the Buckeyes. Freshman Rebeka Mikulasikova has added 7.4 points per game, as a 6-4 forward from Nitra, Slovakia.
• Aixa Wone Aranaz (1.9 ppg, 1.5 rpg) rounds out the Buckeye roster.
• In Big Ten play, Ohio State is averaging 73.6 points, including 83.8 points over the last five games. OSU is allowing 69.6 per game. The Buckeyes are shooting 42.8 percent, including 33.6 percent from three-point range in league play and 69.5 percent at the line. Opponents are shooting 41.6 percent against OSU, but just 28.2 percent from long range, despite hitting 73.4 percent of their free throws. OSU has been outworked on the glass (-0.8 rpg) but carries a plus-2.8 turnover margin in Big Ten action. In the first meeting with Nebraska, OSU out-rebounded the Huskers, 64-49, and won the turnover battle, 18-14, attempting 88 shots from the field compared to 69 for the Huskers.

Nebraska vs. Ohio State Series History
• Ohio State leads the all-time series with Nebraska 10-8, but Nebraska won the last meeting at Value City Arena (78-69) in Columbus on Dec. 31, 2018.
• Leigha Brown led the Huskers in the only meeting with the Buckeyes last season, scoring 19 points in 18 minutes off the bench, including 9-of-12 free throw shooting. Nicea Eliely added 14 points and a team-high six rebounds, while Hannah Whitish pitched in 11 points on three threes. Graduated senior Maddie Simon contributed 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Dorka Juhasz led Ohio State with 14 points and seven rebounds. Aaliyah Patty added nine points on 4-of-5 shooting for the Buckeyes.
• Ohio State had won each of the previous five games in the series – all by double figures.
• Prior to Ohio State’s five-game series win streak, Nebraska reeled off five straight series wins – all by at least eight points – capped by a 67-59 victory over the Buckeyes in Columbus on Feb. 20, 2014.
• Nebraska and Ohio State met five times before the Huskers joined the Big Ten, with the Buckeyes owning a 3-2 edge as non-conference opponents. NU won the first-ever meeting between the two teams, a 63-54 Husker win in Columbus on Dec. 2, 1990. The Huskers also defeated OSU 60-55 at the Devaney Center in Lincoln on Dec. 12, 2003, in the second meeting.
• NU dropped four straight games to Ohio State, including three in Columbus, capped by an 82-68 loss at Value City Arena on Jan. 19, 2012 – the first meeting between the two teams as Big Ten foes.
• Ohio State leads the series 7-6 as Big Ten foes. Nebraska is 4-5 all-time against OSU in Columbus.
• Ohio State leads the all-time series in Lincoln, 5-3, including an 80-74 overtime win at Pinnacle Bank Arena (Feb. 2). It was the fourth consecutive loss in Lincoln by the Huskers to the Buckeyes.
• Nebraska won the only meeting in the series at a neutral site, a 77-62 victory over the Buckeyes at the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis (March 3, 2012).

Nebraska Streaks
• Kate Cain owns Nebraska’s longest streak of consecutive starts (87).
• Nicea Eliely owns Nebraska’s second-longest streak of starts (82).
• Nicea Eliely and Leigha Brown are the only Huskers to score points in each of Nebraska’s first 26 games this season.
• Kate Cain is the only Husker to record at least one rebound in all 26 games this season.
• Eliely was the only Husker to score in all 30 games last season, and the only Husker to score in all of Nebraska’s games against Big Ten Conference foes. She has scored in 60 consecutive games overall. She did not score in a win over Penn State on Feb. 22, 2018, the only time in the past three seasons (including 2019-20, 80 games) that Eliely was shut out.
• The Huskers have knocked down at least one three in 368 straight games dating back to a loss at UTEP on Dec. 20, 2008. Nebraska has hit at least two three-pointers in 247 consecutive games.

Numbers to Watch
(1) Kate Cain is one rebound away from 600 in her career.
(1) Kristian Hudson needs one assist to reach 400 in her career (383 at FIU).
(2) Kate Cain needs two blocks to crack the top 10 list in Big Ten Conference history.
(4) Sam Haiby needs four rebounds to reach 200 in her career.
(7) Kate Cain is seven blocks away from her own Nebraska single-season block record (100) set as a freshman in 2017-18. Cain owns the top three season block totals in school history.
(7) Ashtyn Veerbeek needs seven points to reach 400 in her career.
(13) Kate Cain is 13 points away from 800 career points.

Husker Nuggets
• Nebraska is No. 44 in the Massey Ratings (Feb. 18), with 11 Big Ten teams in the top 64: Maryland (4), Northwestern (8), Iowa (15), Indiana (16), Ohio State (28), Michigan (30), Rutgers (34), Purdue (35), Nebraska (44), Michigan State (53), Minnesota (56).
• In the official NCAA RPI (Feb. 18), 11 Big Ten teams are ranked in the top 100: Maryland (3), Iowa (10), Northwestern (12), Indiana (18), Ohio State (23), Purdue (34), Michigan (35), Rutgers (47), Minnesota (71), Nebraska (80), Michigan State (92).
• Through 26 games, Nebraska is allowing an average of 64.6 points per game, after allowing 70.1 points per game last season. NU’s 2018 NCAA Tournament team allowed 63.6.
• Opponents are shooting 36.5 percent from the field and 30.7 percent from three-point range against NU. Last year, Husker foes hit 41.1 percent, including 33.4 percent from three. In 2017-18, Nebraska led the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense (.371) and three-point field goal percentage defense (.299).
• Nebraska has held eight opponents to 55 points or less this season. Last year, NU held only two foes (Radford-39, Kansas-52) to 55 or less. NU held 11 opponents to 55 or less in 2017-18.
• NU’s bench has outscored opponent reserves in 22 of 26 games in 2019-20. The Husker bench has outscored opposing benches in 50 of the last 56 games, including double-digit edges 36 times.
• This season, NU’s bench has outscored opposing benches 663-406 (25.5-15.6 ppg).
• Nebraska has hit 10 or more threes 19 times in the last three seasons (88 games), including four times in the last 17 contests. Through the first 20 seasons with the three-point shot in women’s basketball (1988-2007), Nebraska hit 10 threes in a game just six times (311 games).

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