#25 Nebraska (11-3, 1-0) vs. #14 Purdue (12-2, 1-0)
Saturday, Jan. 5, 1:05 p.m. (central)
Bob Devaney Sports Center (Lincoln, Neb.)
Live Internet Video: CBS
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-KNEB, Scottsbluff; 1400 AM-KCOW, Alliance)
Internet: Free live audio on Huskers.com
The English language is full of words that are either used improperly or incorrectly. This is especially true in the world of sports in which superlative adjectives are thrown around with little regard to their actual meaning. Thus, when I tell you that Nebraska and Purdue played two 'epic' games last season in women's basketball, I invite you to check out a dictionary.
You'll see 'epic' is defined as "majestic; impressively great."
In one of the greatest games in Nebraska's program history, the Huskers defeated the Boilermakers 93-89 in triple-overtime in West Lafayette during the regular season on Feb. 2, 2012. Emily Cady's amazing, off-balanced, buzzer-beating three-point fling at the end of the second overtime set the stage for NU to pull out an unforgettable win. Just over a month later, the two teams met in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Tournament Championship, with Purdue escaping with a 74-70 double-overtime win.
When Nebraska joined the Big Ten Conference, a lot of conjecture occurred about who would be Huskers' rivals, and I've often thought rivalries are forged over time through great games. It's clear that after only one year, NU and Purdue have a very healthy rivalry forged through the respect of two epic, hard-fought games. The two teams will meet again this Saturday in a nationally televised game in Lincoln. The storylines for this game are seemingly endless, but I'll try and point out some of the big ones:
- Two nationally ranked teams who have both started Big Ten play with a win.
- Huskers' first-ever appearance on CBS-TV.
- Purdue guard KK Houser returning to play in her hometown for the first time in her collegiate career.
- Rematch of last year's Big Ten Tournament Championship game.
- Teams have played two games in the series and the score is tied 163-163.
- Purdue's first and last-ever appearance at the Devaney Center.
- Two former Nebraska High School Players of the Year, KK Houser (2009) and Jordan Hooper (2008, 2010), competing against each other in college in the state of Nebraska for the first time.
Nebraska opened Big Ten Conference play Wednesday night with a 70-52 win over Wisconsin in Lincoln. Senior National Player-of-the-Year candidate Lindsey Moore had an exceptional game, leading the team with 26 points and hitting a career-high tying five three-pointers. Zeroes' shooting percentages are extraordinarily impressive, knocking down over 52 percent of her field goals and hitting a blistering 51 percent of her three-point attempts. She's moved up to second on the Nebraska career assist list, fifth in career minutes, 12th in career points and eighth in career starts.
Moore's streak of 112 straight starts is currently tied for second-longest in the nation. Sophomore forward Emily Cady perhaps had her best game of the season, posting her fourth career double-double with 13 points and a career-high 14 rebounds against the Badgers.
Purdue is 12-2 and comes into Saturday's game in Lincoln after escaping with a one-point overtime win at Illinois Wednesday night. The Boilermakers' two losses were both to teams ranked in the top five, falling 91-57 to No. 2 Connecticut in late-November and losing 74-47 last week at No. 5 Notre Dame. The 12-2 start is Purdue's best since the 2002-03 season. Purdue has a rich tradition in women's basketball, holding a winning record against every Big Ten opponent except Ohio State and Nebraska. Purdue won the 1999 NCAA Championship and has captured seven Big Ten regular season and eight conference tournament titles. They have advanced to 22 NCAA Tournaments, including 18 of the last 19.
The Boilermakers have been bolstered this season by the return of three-time team captain Drey Mingo. The senior forward was granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA last April. Mingo played her first two seasons at Maryland before transferring to Purdue. She developed bacterial meningitis in November 2010, missed four games and has permanent hearing loss as a result. Mingo missed all of last season after she suffered a torn ACL. She has returned this season and has started all 14 games and is third on the team in scoring (11.4 ppg) and adds 6.4 rebounds.
Junior guard Courtney Moses has also started every game and leads the team in scoring (13.1 ppg). A preseason All-Big Ten selection, Moses' jumper with three seconds left in overtime gave Purdue a narrow 67-66 overtime win at Illinois Wednesday night.
Redshirt junior guard KK Houser returns to her hometown for her first collegiate appearance at the Devaney Center, but it's certainly not the first time she's played in the building. The former Southeast High Knight led her prep squad to the 2008 Nebraska Class A State High School Championship with a win over Millard West at the Devaney Center. Houser had a team-high 20 points in Purdue's win Wednesday at Illinois, and she currently is second on the team in scoring (12.4 ppg) and leads the team in steals, assists and three-pointers (24).
Senior forward and South Dakota native Sam Ostarello was the only Purdue player to start every game last season. She leads the team in rebounds (8.9 rpg) and adds 8.9 points. Senior forward Chantel Poston had started five of the first six games this season, but was forced to miss seven games after tearing the lateral meniscus in her left knee against Connecticut on Nov. 24. After recovering from surgery, Poston played in her first game Wednesday at Illinois, and came off the bench to play 25 minutes. She averages 5.6 points. Junior Dee Dee Williams has taken Poston's place in the starting lineup and adds 3.3 points.
Seventh-year Purdue Head Coach Sharon Versyp is a former Boilermaker point guard. She returned to her alma mater after five successful years at Maine. Versyp led Indiana to a 19-14 record in one season at Indiana before taking over at Purdue. She has averaged over 22 wins per season in West Lafayette and has led Purdue to three Big Ten Tournament championships and two NCAA Tournament Elite Eight appearances.
Purdue started the week ranked 10th nationally in team three-point field goal percentage (.384) and seventh in free throw percentage (.775). However, the Boilermakers have a negative turnover margin (-1.6), including -13 against Illinois as they turned it over 34 times.
I cordially invite you to join Jeff Griesch and me for Nebraska women's basketball on the Husker Sports Network. Our radio broadcast Saturday afternoon begins with the pre-game show at 12:45 p.m. (central) with the tip-off scheduled for 1:05 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, KCOW 1400 in Alliance, KNEB 94.1 in Scottsbluff, KLIQ 94.5 in Hastings, KWBE 1450 in Beatrice and available to our entire twenty-five 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!