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Huskers Look To Bounce Back at Northwestern

by Feb 6, 2024Nebraska Mens Basketball

Nebraska Cornhusker forward Josiah Allick (53) makes a lay up against the Northwestern Wildcats in the first half during a college basketball game on Saturday, January 20, 2024, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Photo by John S. Peterson.
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska men’s basketball looks for its first road win in Big Ten play Wednesday when the Huskers travel to Northwestern for an 8:01 p.m. CT tip-off. 

The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network with Connor Onion and Stephen Bardo on the call. 

Bouncing Back

A two-game road trip ends in Evanston, Illinois. the question is will the Huskers’ road woes continue?

“I’m glad we gave ourselves an opportunity and a chance against one of the top teams in one of the best venues in our league, but you’ve got to find a way to win that game. We had multiple opportunities and chances to do it,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said Tuesday afternoon in his pregame media availability. “Those are the things we have to find a way in these last eight games, four on the road, four at home. Continue to take care of PBA and find a way to go out and get a couple of road wins.”

There are no moral victories, especially when the team is battling to remain in the top half of the conference standing and to secure a potential NCAA Tournament berth.

“Just gotta go out and find a way, find a way to compete, give ourselves a chance and hopefully execute well in the last couple minutes,” Hoiberg said. 

Wednesday will end a three-of-four stretch on the road for the Huskers. Hoiberg said he likes how the team responded to the overtime loss at Illinois. 

“It’s a resilient group, they bounced back,” Hoiberg said. “We watched a lot of things on film and there is several things we could’ve done to win that game and that is what really stings, that really hurt.” 

Two Keys

Northwestern forced 18 Nebraska turnovers in the Huskers’ 75-69 home win in Lincoln on Jan. 20. The Huskers offensive rebounding percentage allowed sits at No. 225 nationally. 

Hoiberg knows the margin of error on the road is small and the Huskers will need to do a much better job protecting the glass and in the turnover department to win on Wednesday.  

“For us on the road, you have to take care of it,” Hoiberg said. “We did a good job of it against Illinois and obviously we did not take care of the glass, and that’s ultimately what cost us at the end.

When the Huskers have the ball they are near the bottom, thirteenth in the Big Ten in offensive rebounding percentage (21.6%). Their opponent’s offensive rebound percentage is 31.8 (fourth-highest). 

“If we can take care of both like we’ve done at times, we’ve had a pretty good chance to win the game,” Hoiberg said. “It is going to be important to do a better job of taking care of the ball. At home we were able to overcome it; on the road we probably won’t.” 

Buie 

Northwestern senior guard Boo Buie is averaging 18.9 points on 41% shooting and 5.5 assists. 

The Huskers did a good job defensively against Buie, one of the league’s best players in the Jan. 20 win in Lincoln. Buie shot just 2-of-15 from the field including 1-of-6 from 3-point range.

Since the game in Lincoln, Buie has been on a tear, scoring 19 or more points in each of Northwestern’s last four games, including a 29-point effort in the win over Illinois. 

“You just have to try and make him take tough shots and he’s going to make some of them and those can’t get you deflated,” Hoiberg said. “You just can’t give him everything, you can’t give him uncontested 3s. You just try to make him take those tough contested mid-range shots.”  

Buie is one of four Wildcats averaging double figures. Brooks Barnhizer (14.5), Ty Berry (11.9) and Princeton transfer Ryan Langborg (11.7) are the other three.

Berry and Langborg are both shooting over 40% from 3-point range. As a team, the Wildcats are shooting 39% from long distance. 

“They are shooting 44% from 3 in the league … they have a great crowd and once they get it rolling, Boo Buie, home, road or whatever it is, he’s as good of a point guard as there is in the country.” 

Notes 

Nebraska is now 24-6 under Fred Hoiberg when scoring at least 80 points, including 19-3 over the last three seasons. All three losses have come in overtime (104-100 in 4OT at NC State on Dec. 1, 2021; 87-82 in OT at Rutgers on Jan. 17, 2024; 87-84 at Illinois on Sunday). 

The Huskers lead the Big Ten and are  21st nationally with 9.7 3-pointers per game as of Feb. 5. Nebraska has 222 3-pointers this season, a total that ranks eighth on the school single-season chart and just 10 made 3-pointers away from the No. 5 spot on the list. 

Nebraska has played two straight overtime games (against No. 6 Wisconsin, at No. 14 Illinois) but has never played three consecutive overtime contests.

The Huskers’ 16 wins have matched their 2022-23 win total. A win at Northwestern on Wednesday would mark the first time since the mid-1960s (1963-64 to 1965-66) that the Huskers increased their win total in three straight seasons.

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