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Huskers Getting Close to Full Strength as they Prep for Stony Brook

by Nov 15, 2023Nebraska Mens Basketball

Cornhusker Classic
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska tips off the second of three Cornhusker Classic games with Stony Brook on Wednesday at 7:01 p.m. CT.

The Huskers are looking to go 4-0 for the first time since 2018. Should Nebraska win, that would tie for the longest winning streak in the Fred Hoiberg era. 

Getting Closer to Full Strength

Nebraska should get a boost on Wednesday night as Juwan Gary is no longer listed as “OUT” on the Big Ten availability report. He missed the first three games plus the exhibition for a violation of teams rules and Coach Fred Hoiberg called him “day-to-day” after the win over Rider on Monday.

Gary started all 17 games he played in last season before a shoulder injury ended his season prematurely. The Alabama transfer averaged 9.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists while taking on tough defensive assignments in his first season as a Husker. Josiah Allick has started at the four spot in the first three games and is averaging 8.7 points and 6.3 rebounds this season.

Keisei Tominaga returned to the lineup against Rider on Monday, scoring nine points on 3-of-13 shooting after missing the first two games with an ankle injury suffered during the exhibition. Gary’s return leaves Ramel Lloyd Jr., Blaise Keita and Ahron Ulis listed as out on the availability report. However, Lloyd’s father, Ramel Lloyd Sr., indicated on Wednesday that his son should be cleared soon.

Lloyd redshirted last season and missed time during the preseason and the first three games for the Huskers with a knee injury. He should provide some playmaking and even more depth on the wing. In the Huskers’ trip to Spain, he averaged 5.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.0 steals with a team-best 4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Defense Dominant

The Huskers lead the Big Ten in points per game allowed (52.0), field goal percentage defense (31.1%) and rebounding margin (+12.3). Nebraska is also 42nd nationally in defensive efficiency according to KenPom following Monday’s games.

Nebraska held Rider to just 30.4% shooting, including 6-of-25 from 3-point range. The Broncs shot just 23.1% in the second half in the Huskers’ 64-50 win on Monday night.

“Defensively, I was really proud of our guys for continuing to go out there and battle,” Hoiberg said after the Rider game. “It’s not easy — I’m telling you from experience — when the ball doesn’t go in the hole, to be able to have the mindset to continue to defend, continue to communicate. It’s a physical team. We knew we were going to get a battle on the glass, and this team out-rebounded Marquette the other night, and I thought we did a great job of hitting first, creating that rebound area and going up and finishing the possession with two hands.”

Scouting Stony Brook 

Stony Brook (1-2) dropped its second game of the season at Duquesne (85-63) on Monday night. Aaron Clarke had a team-high 22 points including five 3-pointers, while Tyler Stephenson-Moore added 14 points and four 3s. The duo combined for nine of Stony Brook’s 12 3-pointers. 

Nebraska’s defense could have another strong outing as the Seawolves shot just 33% from the floor, including 24% in the first half Monday at Duquesne.

In three games, Clarke is tied for a team-high 11.7 points per game and shooting 44% (8-of-18) from behind the arc.  

If you just watch the warmups, you might think the Huskers will be in trouble from a size perspective. The Seawolves have three players that are listed at 6-foot-10 or taller. 

Keenan Fitzmorris, a 7-foot transfer from Stanford, is in his second season with Stony Brook and is averaging 6.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.