Indiana women’s basketball’s last loss was on Dec. 2, 2021. Since then, the team has won seven straight games and will look to extend the streak to eight against Nebraska at 6 p.m. Thursday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
Indiana, which has been ranked in the top-10 of the AP poll all season, enters the game 12-2 overall and 4-0 in Big Ten play. Nebraska currently sits at 13-2 overall and 2-2 in conference. Thursday marks Nebraska’s third straight game against a ranked opponent after it defeated then-No. 8 Michigan on Jan. 4 and lost to then-No. 22 Iowa on Sunday.
The Hoosiers have won each of the last five matchups in the series, but head coach Teri Moren said the Cornhuskers are a different team than in the past. The Cornhuskers won 13 games during the 2020-2021 season and have already matched that mark this season.
“I think they’ve got great balance,” Moren said about Nebraska. “It seems like they're playing with more freedom. It seems like they’re playing harder. And it seems like they're really enjoying playing together.”
Sophomore guard Jaz Shelley has played a large role in Nebraska’s improvement from last season. She transferred from Oregon University and leads the team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals in her first season with Nebraska.
“I think Jaz Shelley has really been a nice addition for them, it’s allowed (junior guard Sam) Haiby to play off the ball a little bit more,” Moren said. “Shelley is like the Energizer Bunny out there. She pushes the pace, she's great on the offensive boards and she’s tremendous in terms of being a rebounder as a guard.”
The two teams come into the game with dramatically different offensive profiles. Nebraska takes over 24 3-point attempts per game, led by Haiby who is averaging six. Indiana’s offense is centered around working the ball inside and, as a result, the team attempts under 14 3-pointers per game.
More 3-point shots lead to more opportunities for long rebounds and therefore more opportunities for guards to secure rebounds. Moren said a focus of the game for Indiana will be winning the rebounding battle against Nebraska’s guards, particularly Shelley.
“We’ve always prided ourselves on making sure our guards are rebounding guards,” Moren said. “We’ve got to gang rebound. All of us have to go in there and have a job to do in terms of just eliminating second and third shot opportunities.”
Even though Nebraska is unranked, Moren acknowledged the opponent's talent and said Indiana is prepared for a hard-fought matchup.
“I think we’ve come to this place where we believe we’re going to get everybody’s best,” Moren said.