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Huskers Make History, Dominate Minnesota

by Feb 25, 2024Nebraska Mens Basketball

Huskers Make History, Dominate Minnesota
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska men’s basketball won 73-55 over Minnesota on Sunday in Lincoln. In the process, the Huskers made a little program history. 

The Cornhuskers are now 20-8 (10-7 Big Ten) this season, the Huskers’ best 28-game start in the Big Ten era. It’s the first time Fred Hoiberg has had a 20-win season in his now five-year tenure at Nebraska. It’s also the seventh time Nebraska has won 20 games (1919-20, 1977-78, 1965-66, 1990-91, 1992-93 and 2017-18) in program history. 

The win is the fourth straight conference win by 15 points for the Huskers, the first time the Huskers have done that since 1911-12 when Nebraska was in the Missouri Valley. Nebraska last won four straight conference games by double figures in 1998-99 when the Huskers won four straight Big 12 games by at least 13 points. 

Statistical Dominance

Nebraska dominated the game in nearly every statistical category. 

Nebraska won all but two things you will find on a box score. Minnesota won second-chance points (14-7) and bench points (13-11).

The Huskers held Minnesota to a season-low 55 points, nearly 20 points below their season average (76.6). Nebraska was plus-six in the paint, plus-three at the foul line and plus-nine from the 3-point line while holding the Gophers to 31% shooting.

Big Three 

Toughness was a concern for Husker head coach Fred Hoiberg coming into the game. He was disappointed in the physicality that Nebraska showed in the December loss at Minnesota. 

Sunday, Nebraska out-rebounded Minnesota 44-38 and even won the offensive rebounding edge 11-10, something that has hampered the Huskers this season. 

“I thought early that our guys set the tone,” Hoiberg said. It was Josiah [Allick] again that got two offensive rebounds early in the game. I think the best sign for us was when the ball wasn’t going in the basket, and some really weird things happened — like Keisei [Tominaga] misses a wide-open layup on the first play, Sam [Hoiberg] has a ball that looked like it went in and then all of the sudden bounced out, Keisei had two wide-open 3s, and we missed a couple other easy ones — and we still had an eight-point lead at halftime. If our guys continue to buy into that, it’s not always easy to continue to defend and continue to grind out possessions.”

Starting the “big lineup” (Juwan Gary, Allick and Rienk Mast together) once again paid off for Nebraska. 

Gary had 12 of his career-high 22 points in the first seven minutes and 30 seconds of the second half, and he finished tied with Brice Williams and Allick for a team-high eight rebounds. His four 3-pointers (on seven attempts) also were a career and team-high. 

“We just go out and play our defensive edge, and have that defensive edge,” Gary said. “That’s what we did. As a team, if we can play defense like this, it’s going to be a very great run for us in the next month or so. Today was a great feel, just having a full game of defense, so we’ll continue doing it.”

Although he didn’t shoot well — just 3-of-12 from the field —Mast had a bigger impact on the game than any other Husker, as Nebraska was plus-24 with him on the floor. Allick’s energy toughness, poster dunk attempts and verticality defensively were things that won’t show up in a box score.

What’s Next? 

With the win the Huskers assured themselves of a few things. They will not play on opening day of the Big Ten Tournament. With just three games left in the regular season, they will finish the Big Ten regular season with at least a .500 record.

The win over Minnesota helps push them further off the bubble and onto more solid footing in the NCAA Tournament field, and it moved Nebraska up to No. 41 in the NET rankings.

Should the Huskers win out to finish the regular season, it likely moves them from a 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament to potentially as high as an eight or maybe seven seed.

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