Coatney's Call: Michigan State Preview
Nebraska (13-6, 3-3) vs. #25 Michigan State (16-2, 4-1)
Thursday, Jan. 24, 7:05 p.m. (central)
Bob Devaney Sports Center (Lincoln, Neb.)
Live TV/Video: NET/BTN.com
Radio: Husker Sports Network
(Matt Coatney-PBP; Jeff Griesch-Analyst)
(B107.3 FM-Lincoln; The Wolf 93.3 FM-Omaha; 880 AM-KRVN, Lexington; 94.5 FM-KLIQ, Hastings; 94.1 FM and 960 AM-KNEB, Scottsbluff; 1400 AM-KCOW, Alliance; 1450 AM-KWBE, Beatrice)
Internet: Free live audio on Huskers.com
Coming off back-to-back losses and going on the road to face an opponent who was 10-1 at home, the Nebraska women's basketball team needed to be clicking on all cylinders to emerge victorious last Sunday in Minneapolis.
The Husker offense ran free and easy with four players scoring in double figures in an 84-63 Nebraska win. It was NU's first-ever win against the Golden Gophers at Minnesota. Senior point guard Lindsey Moore had arguably her best game of the year with season highs of 26 points and seven rebounds to go along with seven assists and three steals. The win pulled the Huskers back to .500 in the Big Ten (3-3), as NU returns home to face the 25th-ranked Michigan State Spartans Thursday night at the Devaney Center.
MSU (16-2, 4-1) has finished in second place or better in Big Ten Conference play in each of the last four seasons and is one of two leagues schools (Ohio State) with at least 10 conference wins in each of the last 10 seasons. The Spartans have won 38 of their last 48 Big Ten regular-season games, including 11 of their last 13. In the last six seasons, they own the league's best winning percentage in road conference games, 29-16 (.644).
The Spartans win with defense. They lead the Big Ten in points allowed, field goal percentage defense, three-point field goal percentage defense, rebound margin, defensive rebound margin along with leading the league in assist-to-turnover ratio and fewest turnovers. They have held each opponent's leading scorer below their season average.
Michigan State is the only team in the Big Ten to use the same starting lineup all season. A nine-game suspension to start the season for Kiana Johnson has allowed senior Jasmine Thomas an opportunity to be the regular starting point guard for MSU. After posting negative assist-to-turnover numbers her first three seasons, Thomas is currently 10th in the league with a 1.2 assist-to-turnover margin. She also averages 8.6 points per game.
Junior guard Klarissa Bell is currently the only Big Ten player to be averaging at least 12 points, six rebounds and three assists per game. The former Michigan High School Player of the Year leads the team in scoring (12.9 ppg).
Sophomores Becca Mills and Jasmine Hines have combined to play the majority of the minutes at the center position. While Mills has started every game, the two have combined for 19.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per contest. MSU's top three-point threat is junior forward Annalise Pickrel. She averages 9.3 points per game and has hit 36 three-pointers this season.
Senior forward Courtney Schiffauer rounds out Michigan State's regular starting lineup. She leads the team in rebounds (7.0 per game) and averages 6.9 points per contest.
Sixth-year Spartan Head Coach Suzy Merchant became the fastest Michigan State women's basketball coach to win 100 games. She has taken MSU to four straight NCAA Tournaments, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2009.
Michigan State will be playing in Lincoln for the first time in school history. The only previous meeting between the two teams was last year's 73-53 Spartan victory in East Lansing.
I cordially invite you to join Jeff Griesch and me for Nebraska women's basketball on the Husker Sports Network. Our radio broadcast Thursday evening begins with the pre-game show at 6:45 p.m. (central) with the tip-off scheduled for 7:05 p.m. on the Husker Sports Network, including Lincoln affiliate KBBK 107.3 FM (B107.3), KTWI 93.3 FM (The Wolf) in Omaha, KRVN 880 in Lexington, KLIQ 94.5 in Hastings, KWBE 1450 in Beatrice, KCOW 1400 in Alliance, KNEB 960 and 94.1 in Scottsbluff, and available to our entire 25 network stations. All Husker women's basketball broadcasts are also available for free worldwide on the internet at www.huskers.com. I hope you can join us.
There are a number of ways to get enhanced information about our broadcast and Husker women's basketball via social media. You can learn more about the team on the Nebraska Women's Basketball Facebook page or follow the team on their official Twitter page @huskerswbb. I also invite you to friend me on Facebook (Matt Coatney) or follow me on Twitter @coatman1.
Go Big Red!