Nebraska (12-5, 2-2) vs. Illinois (9-7, 2-2) Thursday, Jan. 17, 7:05 p.m. (central) Bob Devaney Sports Center (Lincoln, Neb.) Live Video: 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; 94.1 FM-KNEB, Scottsbluff; 1400 AM-KCOW, Alliance) Internet: Free live audio on Huskers.com
Nebraska (12-5, 2-2) at Minnesota (13-4, 2-1) Sunday, Jan. 20, 5 p.m. (central) Williams Arena (Minneapolis, Minn.) Live National TV: BTN (Eric Collins-PBP; Stephanie White-Analyst) Radio: Husker Sports Network (Matt Coatney-PBP; Jeff Griesch-Analyst) (B107.3 FM-Lincoln; The Wolf 93.3 FM-Omaha; 880 AM-KRVN, Lexington; 94.1 FM-KNEB, Scottsbluff; 1400 AM-KCOW, Alliance) Internet: Free live audio on Huskers.com
Going on the road in the Big Ten is tough and especially tough when a team has the rare two-game road trip. The Nebraska women's basketball team split two games away from Lincoln last week, winning 67-38 at Indiana and falling at No. 8 Penn State 80-58. Sophomore forward Emily Cady averaged 14 points and 9.5 rebounds in the two games. Next up for the Huskers is a return home to face much-improved Illinois Thursday night and then a road game Sunday afternoon at Minnesota.
Even though they essentially have the same players, Illinois is a completely different squad from the team that struggled to an 11-19 overall record and a ninth-place finish in the Big Ten last season. They are different in head coach, style and results. The Illini are clearly the most improved team in the league under first-year coach Matt Bollant.
They have already won nine games this season and their 'Buzz' defense has caused their opponents a lot of headaches. Illinois leads the league in steals and that has translated to transition baskets, resulting in the Illini ranking third in the Big Ten in scoring (72.8 ppg).
Not only is Illinois a new team this year, they changed dramatically again at the end of December. Senior guard Adrienne Godbold was ineligible for the entire first semester. Since her return, the Illini have defeated Georgia, who was ranked sixth at the time, took No. 14 Purdue to overtime, and defeated No. 24 Ohio State and Northwestern on the road. The Illini lost their last game Sunday afternoon at home to Michigan State 79-75.
Godbold has been on fire since her return, averaging 20.5 points in four Big Ten games, including a career-high 28 points Sunday against MSU. Perhaps no one has benefitted more from Godbold's return to the lineup than senior forward Karisma Penn. Until the loss Sunday to the Spartans, Penn had scored in double figures every game this season. She is fourth in the league in scoring (19.2 ppg), leads the Big Ten in rebounding (10.2 rpg) and is third in steals.
Sophomore point guard Alexis Smith is third in the league in assists per game and adds 8.4 points. Sophomore guard Ivory Crawford averages 13.6 points and is one steal behind Penn for the team lead. Junior guard Amber Moore rounds out Illinois' probable starting lineup. Moore ranks among the top players nationally in threes per game and is the fourth Illini starter averaging double figure (13.0 ppg).
New coach Matt Bollant's up-tempo style helped Green Bay to five straight Horizon League titles and four straight trips to the NCAA Tournament. Prior to his five seasons with the Phoenix, Bollant had been an assistant in the Big Ten under Kathi Bennett at Indiana.
Illinois leads the all-time series with Nebraska 4-2, but the teams have only met once in the past 20 years. Nebraska defeated the Illini 67-47 last January in Champaign. Lindsey Moore had 20 points while Jordan Hooper added 12 points and 16 rebounds for the Huskers.
Minnesota starts the week 13-4 with a 2-1 mark in the Big Ten after knocking off Ohio State 83-74 last Thursday. The Gophers had a bye for the weekend schedule of league games, before heading to Purdue this Thursday.
Sophomore point guard Rachel Banham is a dynamic threat with the ball in her hands. She leads the team in scoring (20.7 ppg), assists, steals, free throw percentage and three-pointers.
Junior forward Micaella Riche' gives the Gophers size and scoring on the inside. She is second on the team in scoring (13.2 ppg) and leads the team with 7.1 rebounds per game.
Coach Pam Borton is in her 11th season at Minnesota and has taken the Gophers to six NCAA Tournaments, three Sweet Sixteen appearances and the 2004 NCAA Women's Final Four. However, Minnesota hasn't advanced to the NCAA Tournament in the past four seasons. The all-time series between Nebraska and Minnesota is tied 6-6, with each team winning at home last year.
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, KCOW 1400 in Alliance, KNEB 960 and 94.1 in Scottsbluff, and available to our entire twenty-five network stations. Sunday's broadcast at Minnesota begins with the pre-game show at 4:45 p.m. (central) with the tip-off scheduled for 5 p.m. on KBBK in Lincoln, KTWI in Omaha, KRVN in Lexington, KWBE 1450 AM in Beatrice, KNEB-FM in Scottsbluff, KCOW in Alliance and many others. 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!
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