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Unrau set to face former teammate

MU forward played with Nebraska's Alexa Johnson during a summer tournament.
Wednesday, January 14, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:50 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

Evan Unrau had a unique experience this summer; she got to know her competition.

The Missouri women’s basketball team takes on Nebraska tonight at 7 at Hearnes Center.

Missouri (9-4, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) hopes to snap a two-game losing streak with a win against the Cornhuskers (11-2, 1-1), a team the Tigers defeated twice last season.

Unrau, a 6-foot-1 senior forward, represented the United States at the World University Games in Daegu, South Korea, along with other members of the Big 12.

Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly and Missouri coach Cindy Stein coached the team, which had 12 players from nine Big 12 schools.

Unrau said the trip gave her the opportunity to get to know several of the women and answered questions she had about people she competes against.

“You always kind of wonder what their personalities are like because you know how they are like on the floor,” Unrau said. “I think it’s one of the best parts of being an athlete is getting to compete against people and then getting to know them after the fact.

“Some people are animals on the floor and then all of a sudden they are the sweetest people.”

For Unrau and Stein, tonight’s game will be the first reunion with one of their former teammates, Alexa Johnson.

Johnson, a 6-1 senior forward, said she and Unrau got to know each other well because they were suitemates for a week.

"It was really cool getting to play with Evan this summer,” Johnson said. “We got to know each other pretty well.

“It was great to get to play with somebody that good, instead of having always to play against her. You get to see a different side of an opponent and to have her be my teammate was really awesome. She is a great player, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for her.”

Unrau and Johnson said they are looking forward to the game.

“I am sure after the game we will talk about what happened this summer and what a great time we had,” Johnson said.

Nebraska, which had one conference win last season, is coming off a 62-57 win against Iowa State on Saturday.

The win came three days after the Cornhuskers lost 70-51 at no. 16 Oklahoma. The loss snapped a 10-game winning streak.

Behind coach Connie Yori, who was in her first year at the school, Nebraska was 8-20 last season and finished last in the Big 12.

“Last year was kind of a really hard in that it was a transition year,” Johnson said. “This year I think we are more comfortable.

“We have a lot of confidence in our coaches and our teammates are used to playing in the system Coach Yori wants us to play.”

Missouri is coming off a 55-52 loss to Kansas on Saturday. Missouri is awaiting word from the Big 12 about the fate of two players who were involved in a fight between the teams that happened at midcourt after the game.

Unrau said her friendship with Johnson would not interfere with how either of them plays tonight.

“I think we are both going to go out there and compete because we both want to win,” Unrau said.


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