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Gary Trending as Huskers Prep For Wisconsin

by Jan 31, 2024Nebraska Mens Basketball

Nebraska Cornhusker forward Juwan Gary (4) warms up before taking on Ohio State Buckeyes during a college basketball game on Tuesday, January 23, 2024, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Photo by John S. Peterson.
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska men’s basketball hosts Wisconsin, its second top-10 opponent, Thursday when the Badgers travel to Lincoln for a 7:31 p.m. tip-off.

The game will be televised on Big Ten Network with Kevin Kugler and Nick Bahe on the call. 

Gary Trending

With the Huskers’ struggles rebounding, it is very apparent junior Juwan Gary, the team’s second-leading rebounder, will be needed sooner rather than later. 

“Juwan made it through a lot of practice today and hopefully he feels good in the morning,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We will get another opportunity in the morning to see how he does at shoot-around. If he is available we are going to be careful. We’re probably not going to have him out there in a 30-minute stint if he does play. Obviously from a physicality standpoint, he helps us in a big way and that has been a big knock on our team.” 

Gary has missed the last three games with what was considered a calf strain he sustained in the second half in the loss at Rutgers. 

“Hopefully, we will get Juwan back on the floor soon,” Hoiberg said.

Gary was not available in the next game, a 75-69 win versus Northwestern on Saturday, Jan. 20, due to the injury. 

“He’s doing significantly better than where he was even the last couple of days, obviously when it happened at Rutgers when he was in a boot and on crutches and putting no weight on it,” Hoiberg said on the Monday after Northwestern. “We feel good about where he is but we want to be smart at the same time. It will be a game-time decision with Juwan tomorrow.” 

In the Huskers’ 73-51 home win over Ohio State, Gary went through warmups and was listed as questionable on the availability report but did not play. 

Before the 71-53 loss at Maryland on Saturday Gary was listed as out on the availability report.

Tough Prep

Since the Huskers arrived back in Lincoln after the loss at Maryland, Hoiberg said he needs to look in the mirror first. The Huskers lost the rebounding battle by 15 (43-25) after giving up 25 offensive rebounds in the loss at Rutgers.

“The first guy I look at after every game is myself,” Hoiberg said. “I look in the mirror, what could I have done better? I needed to have five guys out there that are playing more physical than the guys we had out on the floor the other night.”

Hoiberg’s look in the mirror was to throw away the load management reports he receives from the Huskers sports science staff.

“I really didn’t care what their loads looked like,” Hoiberg said. “We’ve got the analytics and sports science department and I pay a lot of attention to that. When they laid out a load plan for me I crumpled it up and threw it in the garbage. I said we need to go, we need to go hard and we need to go physical. That is exactly what we’ve done the last three days. I don’t care what their legs are like tomorrow, we had to get after it.

“I just felt we needed three really tough days of practice to get our minds wrapped around what teams are saying about us right now.”

What Hoiberg means is opponent scouting reports.

“I know everybody’s report is go in there and if you play harder than them when things get tough, they have been getting softer,” Hoiberg said. “We needed to set the tone in practice. Our guys did that; hopefully, that carries over in the game at 7:30 tomorrow night.”

Hoiberg has been encouraged by the team’s response to the harder practices over the last three days.

“They got after it, they did exactly what we wanted to do,” Hoiberg said. “That means nothing unless it carries over into the game. It’s one thing to do it in practice in a setting where they know they have to hit somebody and they know they have to block out and it has to carry over to the game.

“When things get hard out there we’ve got to get tougher,” Hoiberg continued. It’s been a very disturbing trend for our team. When things have gotten hard out there we’ve gone the other way and we’ve gotten softer out there on the floor. You just can’t continue on with that and expect to have any type of consistency and expect to win, especially on the road.”

Scouting Wisconsin

The Badgers enter Thursday’s game alone at the top of the Big Ten standings at 8-1 and 16-4 overall. Offensively, the Badgers come to Lincoln rated fourth in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency (points scored per 100 possessions).

“What they are doing offensively right now is very impressive,” Hoiberg said. “We need to be ready for a battle. They are going to screen, we know that and they are one of the best verticality teams, they jump into you on that and they are really well trained. We just need to go out there and be really solid and really disciplined and that will give us a chance.”

In the Huskers’ 88-72 loss in Madison on Jan. 6, the Badgers shot 13-of-26 from 3-point range and 55% overall (33-of-60). This week was the first time since Big Ten play started that Nebraska has had more than two days to prepare for an opponent.

“This is the first time we’ve had had three days of prep actually on the floor,” Hoiberg said. “We were able to watch a lot of film with our team and now we’ve got to go out and execute. If we do that we should have a chance.”

Numbers to Know

The Huskers have an opportunity to beat two top-10 teams in a season for the first time since 2013-14. Nebraska has five seasons in which it has beaten at least two top-10 teams (2013-14, 1993-94, 1991-92, 1990-91 and 1957-58). The 1957-58 team was coached by Jerry Bush, Hoiberg’s grandfather.

Nebraska leads the Big Ten with 9.6 3-pointers per game as of Jan. 29. The season-best for made 3-pointers in a game is 9.5 (2001-02). The Huskers are 9-3 this season when hitting at least 10 3-pointers.

Nebraska has won its last 15 games dating back to last season when holding an opponent to 70 points or less. This season, Nebraska is 11-0 following the win over Ohio State on Jan. 24.

Fred Hoiberg has 10 career wins against top-10 teams and 27 wins over ranked opponents in his collegiate coaching career.

Nebraska has held 19 of its last 21 opponents under 50% shooting.

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