The Nebraska basketball team returns to Pinnacle Bank Arena for the first time in 2014, as the Huskers host Michigan in the Big Ten home opener Thursday evening. The Huskers (8-6, 0-2 B1G) look to snap a three-game losing streak following an 84-53 loss at third-ranked Ohio State on Saturday. The Huskers trailed 33-30 with 2:28 left in the half, but the Buckeyes closed the half on a 7-0 run and pulled away during the final 20 minutes of action.
Despite the loss to the Buckeyes, the Huskers got a strong performance from junior Leslee Smith, who was moved into the starting lineup as Walter Pitchford was battling the flu Saturday morning. Smith, making his first start of the year, totaled 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting and 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the year. The 6-foot-8 junior is averaging 7.9 points on 61 percent shooting and a team-high 6.5 rebounds per game despite averaging just under 20 minutes of playing time.
The No. 16 Nebraska women’s basketball team hits the road for the first time in more than a month to face Michigan State in the Big Red’s Big Ten road opener on Thursday night. Nebraska, which was the preseason pick of media and coaches to win the 2014 Big Ten title, opened conference play with a 66-65 come-from-behind win over Northwestern in the first-ever Big Ten game at Pinnacle Bank Arena. It was Nebraska’s fifth straight win.
Michigan State also notched a Big Ten-opening victory, crushing Minnesota 81-56 on the Gophers’ homecourt on Saturday at the Barn. It was the third straight win overall for the Spartans, who carry a 6-1 home mark at the Breslin Center this season.
All-American Jordan Hooper ranks among the top three players in the Big Ten by averaging 20.2 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. She’s closing in on a milestone. Hooper is 53 points and 49 rebounds away from becoming just third Husker and fifth Big Ten player in history to reach career milestones of 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.