Huskers Open Three-Game Big Ten Trip at Minnesota on New Year's Eve
Nebraska Cornhuskers at Minnesota Golden Gophers
Sunday, Dec. 31, 2 p.m. (CT)
Williams Arena (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Live Video: BTN Plus
Live Radio: Husker Sports Network
Matt Coatney (PBP), Jeff Griesch (Analyst)
Lincoln - B107.3 FM; Omaha - ESPN 590 AM
Free Live Audio: Huskers.com/Huskers App/TuneIn App
Huskers Open Three-Game Big Ten Trip at Minnesota
• The Nebraska women’s basketball team starts Big Ten road action Sunday by taking on Minnesota. Tip-off between the Huskers (9-5, 0-1 Big Ten) and the Golden Gophers (12-2, 1-0 Big Ten) at Williams Arena in Minneapolis is set for 2 p.m.
• A live radio broadcast will be produced by the Husker Sports Network, with Matt Coatney and Jeff Griesch teaming up for their 17th season together on the call. The game will be carried live for free on Huskers.com and over the air on B107.3 FM in Lincoln and ESPN 590 AM in Omaha. Free audio also can be found on the Huskers App and the TuneIn App.
• A live premium video stream will be provided to BTN Plus subscribers.
• Nebraska tips a three-game Big Ten road swing after opening conference play with a 73-61 setback to No. 12 Ohio State on Thursday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln. Junior Maddie Simon and freshman Kate Cain led the Huskers with 14 points apiece, while sophomore Hannah Whitish added 12 points.
• The Huskers, who have produced two more wins (9) than last season (7), provided another example of their drastically improved defense. Nebraska held the nation’s No. 1 scoring offense to its second-lowest total this season, limiting the Buckeyes to 73 points. OSU entered the game averaging 91.4 points per game and averaged 91 points in two games against the Huskers a year ago.
• Nebraska will be challenged by another top-10 offense at Minnesota. The explosive Golden Gophers rank No. 9 in the country with 87.8 points per game. The Gophers are coming off a 90-63 win at Northwestern, which had surrendered just 60.6 points per game entering the contest.
• Sunday’s game will feature the two leading contenders for Big Ten Freshman of the Year in Nebraska center Kate Cain and Minnesota wing Destiny Pitts. The two have combined for seven Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Week awards (Cain-4, Pitts-3). Each own four double-doubles, including a triple-double for Cain with 22 points, 14 rebounds and a school-record 11 blocks in a win over Florida Atlantic (Dec. 19). Pitts is coming off a huge 22-point, 11-rebound effort that included six threes in the win at Northwestern.
• Cain, who leads the Big Ten and ranks No. 3 nationally with 52 blocks, needs just two blocks to tie Nebraska’s freshman record of 54 blocks set by NU career leader Janet Smith over 34 games in 1978-79.
• Cain has helped the Huskers climb to No. 9 nationally in blocked shots with 78 through 14 games. Last season, the Huskers ranked 290th with 67 blocks in 29 games. Nebraska ranked 335th (.445) in field goal percentage defense in 2016-17. This year, the Huskers rank 41st (.359).
Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-5, 0-1 Big Ten)
24 - Maddie Simon - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 10.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg
31 - Kate Cain - 6-5 - Fr. - C - 11.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg
3 - Hannah Whitish - 5-9 - So. - G - 13.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg
5 - Nicea Eliely - 6-1 - So. - G - 8.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg
34 - Jasmine Cincore - 5-10 - Sr. - F - 6.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg
Off the Bench
33 - Taylor Kissinger - 6-1 - Fr. - G - 13.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg
12 - Emily Wood - 5-5 - Sr. - G - 6.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg
15 - Bria Stallworth - 5-6 - So. - G - 4.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg
14 - Grace Mitchell - 6-2 - So. - F - 3.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg
13 - Janay Morton - 5-10 - Sr. - G - 1.8 ppg, 0.8 rpg
43 - Rachel Blackburn - 6-3 - So. - F - 1.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg
50 - Darrien Washington - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 1.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg
Head Coach: Amy Williams (Nebraska, 1998)
Second Season at Nebraska (16-27)
11th Season Overall (209-136)
Minnesota Golden Gophers (12-2, 1-0 Big Ten)
3 - Destiny Pitts - 5-10 - Fr. - G/F - 12.5 ppg, 8.4 rpg
10 - Jessie Edwards - 6-3 - Sr. - C - 4.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg
23 - Kenisha Bell - 5-9 - RJr. - G - 21.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg
33 - Carlie Wagner - 5-10 - Sr. - G - 18.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg
34 - Gadiva Hubbard - 5-9 - So. - G - 13.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg
Off the Bench
5 - Taiye Bello - 6-2 - So. - F - 5.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg
21 - Jasmine Brunson - 5-8 - So. - G - 4.7 ppg, 1.3 rpg
14 - Bryanna Fernstrom - 6-5 - Sr. - C - 3.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg
31 - Irene Garrido Perez - 6-2 - Jr. - F - 1.4 ppg, 0.6 rpg
41 - Annalese Lamke - 6-3 - Jr. - C - 1.2 ppg, 0.8 rpg
25 - Palma Kaposi - 6-1 - Jr. - F - 1.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg
20 - Kehinde Bello - 6-2 - So. - F - 0.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg
Head Coach: Marlene Stollings (Ohio, 1998)
Fourth Season at Minnesota (70-40)
Seventh Season Overall (121-82)
Scouting the Minnesota Golden Gophers
• Coach Marlene Stollings brings her fourth Minnesota team into Sunday’s game with Nebraska carrying a 12-2 record after opening Big Ten play with a 90-63 win at Northwestern in Evanston on Thursday.
• Minnesota has featured one of the highest scoring offenses in the nation, averaging 87.8 points per game. The Golden Gophers rank ninth nationally in scoring offense and have scored at least 73 points in every game this season except a 72-69 loss at San Diego on Dec. 10.
• Minnesota starts one player over 5-10, but ranks No. 2 in the Big Ten with 45.4 rebounds per game. • Minnesota has outscored the opposition by 18.9 points per game while shooting 44.6 percent from the field and 36.9 percent from three-point range (9.2 3FG per game). The Gophers are plus-7.6 in rebound margin and plus-4.1 in turnover margin. Last season, the Gophers were just plus-0.2 in rebound margin and minus-1.0 in turnover margin in a season they finished 15-16, including 5-11 in the Big Ten.
• The Gophers also excel at the free throw line, where they rank No. 5 in the nation with 224 free throws made (.749, 42nd).
• Minnesota is unbeaten at home this season, carrying a 7-0 record at Williams Arena. Under Coach Marlene Stollings, the Gophers are 46-10 at The Barn. The Huskers have lost in back-to-back trips to Minneapolis, including a 110-73 loss on Feb. 11, 2016.
• Senior guard Carlie Wagner ranks sixth on Minnesota’s all-time scoring list with 1,857 points and second with 246 three-pointers. Last season, the third-team CoSIDA Academic All-American, scored 28 points while playing all 45 minutes in Minnesota’s 79-69 overtime win over Nebraska in Lincoln (Feb. 4). A two-time second-team All-Big Ten selection, Wagner led Minnesota with 19.1 points per game and 82 three-pointers last season.
• Junior guard Kenisha Bell has improved in all areas this season. Last year, the Marquette transfer averaged 16.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.2 steals, but committed a whopping 4.8 turnovers per game in her first season with the Gophers. She shot 37.7 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from three-point range. This season, Bell is averaging a team-best 21.1 points (+5.0 ppg), 5.4 rebounds (+1.2 rpg) and 6.5 assists (+1.6 apg) while shooting 46.8 percent (+9.1%) from the field and 37.8 percent (+9.2%) from three-point range. She is averaging 3.1 turnovers per game, an improvement of 1.7 turnovers per game. Bell scored 13 points and had seven rebounds and four assists in last year’s win at Nebraska.
• Bell opened Big Ten play with 26 points and 10 assists without committing a turnover against Northwestern. She also had seven rebounds and five steals in the win over the Wildcats.
• While Wagner’s numbers are remarkably consistent and Bell has shown dramatic improvement, freshman Destiny Pitts has made a huge impact. The 5-10 wing is a three-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week, averaging 12.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Pitts owns four double-doubles, including 22 points and 11 rebounds in her Big Ten debut against Northwestern Thursday. She has scored in double figures eight times while grabbing double-figure rebounds seven times. She has hit 39.5 percent of her threes (34-86) and 83.3 percent (35-42) of her free throws.
• Gadiva Hubbard, a 5-9 sophomore guard, has added 13.2 points per game while knocking down 31-of-91 threes (.341) and 95.7 percent (22-23) of her free throws. Hubbard is a solid defender and owns better than a 2.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Hubbard did not play last season against Nebraska.
• Sophomore guard Jasmine Brunson (4.7 ppg) provides solid support at the guard spots. She started last season at Nebraska in place of Hubbard, producing seven points and three rebounds.
• Senior Jessie Edwards, a 6-3 center from Australia, has started 12 games for Minnesota, averaging 16.5 minutes per game. She has produced 4.6 points and 5.9 rebounds. Last year, Edwards had 12 points and eight rebounds in the win over the Huskers.
• Sophomore Taiye Bello, a 6-2 forward, has contributed 5.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Bello is averaging 17.9 minutes per game for a varied inside rotation for the Gophers.
• Senior Bryanna Fernstrom, a 6-5 center, has managed 3.4 points and 2.9 boards. Annalese Lamke, a 6-3 junior forward who started 14 games as a freshman in 2015-16, has played 10 games and managed 1.2 points in 3.6 minutes per contest. International forwards Palma Kaposi and Irene Garrido Perez have also contributed along with Taiye Bello’s twin sister, Kehinde.
Nebraska vs. Minnesota Series History
• Nebraska leads the all-time series with Minnesota 11-9, including a 110-73 loss at Williams Arena in Minneapolis on Feb. 11, 2016. Nebraska owns a 6-4 series edge as Big Ten foes.
• In the last meeting between the two schools. Minnesota prevailed 79-69 in overtime, Feb. 4, 2017.
• Nebraska had won four straight meetings with Minnesota in Lincoln, including an 88-85 overtime win on Jan. 16, 2014, in the first game between the schools at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Huskers added an 80-56 win (Feb. 3, 2013) and a 64-49 win (Jan. 22, 2012) in Lincoln as Big Ten foes
. • Nebraska is 9-3 all-time against Minnesota in Lincoln, but 1-6 against the Gophers in Minneapolis. The Huskers defeated the Gophers 80-67 at the Big Ten Tournament on March 7, 2014.
• Although women’s basketball was not a full varsity sport at Nebraska until 1975-76, a women’s team from Nebraska suffered its first defeat at Minnesota in 1904 after going unbeaten between 1897 and 1903. Two weeks after the first meeting with Minnesota, Nebraska beat the same team in Lincoln.
• Minnesota’s Laura Coenen scored 42 points for the Gophers in a 90-79 win over the Huskers on Nov. 30, 1984. That effort is tied for the most points by any opponent in a game against the Huskers.
• A win for Nebraska at Minnesota would be the Huskers’ 10th win of the season, giving the Big Red three more than the seven victories they totaled all of last season.
• Kate Cain needs two blocks to tie Nebraska’s freshman blocked shot record held by Husker all-time block leader Janet Smith (1978-79). Cain has blocked at least two shots in 10 consecutive games and 13 of 14 games this season.
• Kate Cain’s 3.7 blocks per game and 52 total blocks ranked No. 3 nationally through games Dec. 28. No Nebraska individual has ever averaged 2.0 blocks per game in a career, and only two Huskers (Danielle Page, 2.4 bpg, 2007-08; Catheryn Redmon, 2.5 bpg, 2010-11) have ever averaged 2.0 blocks per game in a single season.
• Nebraska’s Big Ten opener with No. 12 Ohio State marked the return of freshman Taylor Kissinger. The 6-1 guard scored eight points in 15 minutes off the bench against the Buckeyes and is still Nebraska’s leading scorer with 13.3 points per game despite missing the Huskers’ final six non-conference contests with a knee injury.
• Senior Emily Wood leads the Big Ten Conference in three-point shooting percentage (.473). Wood, a 5-5 guard from Salina, Kan., has hit 26-of-55 threes on the year, including a career-high 5-of-7 against Washington State. A former walk-on, Wood entered the season with 24 career three-pointers made.
• Wood (+4.5 ppg) and teammate Maddie Simon (+6.3 ppg) are two of the Big Ten’s most improved players in 2017-18. Wood is averaging 6.6 points per game compared to the 2.1 points per game she averaged while playing all 29 games last season. Simon, a 6-2 junior forward, is averaging 10.4 points per game after averaging 4.1 points through all 29 games a year ago. The last six games, Simon is averaging 12.3 points per game.
• Sophomore guard Hannah Whitish (31) owns the longest current streak of consecutive starts by a Husker. Nebraska’s second-longest streak is 13 games by freshman Kate Cain.
• Whitish is the only Husker to start all 14 games this season.
• Kate Cain has blocked at least one shot in each of the first 14 games of her career. She has 13 games with two or more blocks, including 10 straight games.
• Hannah Whitish has posted at least one assist in 16 consecutive games, and has three or more assists in 13 games this season, including 10 straight.
• Whitish has knocked down a three-pointer in 11 consecutive games.
• Taylor Kissinger has knocked down at least one three-pointer in seven consecutive games.
• Kissinger has at least three rebounds in each of her eight games this season.
• The Huskers have knocked down at least one three-pointer in 294 straight regular-season games dating back to a loss at UTEP on Dec. 20, 2008. • Nebraska has hit at least two three-pointers in 173 consecutive games.