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Mast’s Career Highs Lift Nebraska Over Ohio State

by Jan 23, 2024Nebraska Mens Basketball

Mast’s Career Highs Lift Nebraska Over Ohio State
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska men’s basketball improved to 15-5 with an 83-69 win over Ohio State Tuesday night behind a career-high 34 points from Rienk Mast. 

“He looked like a different person the last couple days in practice,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said of Mast. “It was really fun to see our guys execute, once he got it going … I thought our guys executed beautifully finding him and getting him the ball in the right spots.” 

Nebraska is now 15-5 overall, its best 20-game start since the 1990-91 season when the Huskers started the season 18-2. 

“Our guys, I think, did a great job of responding to adversity,” Hoibeg said. “We get down nine in that first half. There was no panic, everybody kept their poise and then we went out and finally started getting stops. They hit shots early and then we forced them to miss a few and that is what got us out in transition and that’s what got us confident.” 

Career-Best Mast

The Bradley transfer has been everything Nebraska needed and more. Tuesday night was another glimpse of that.

His career-high 34 points beat his previous best of 30 last season versus Northern Iowa. It also ties for 17th on Nebraska’s single-game scoring list. 

It wasn’t just the points, it was how he was scoring them. Shooting 6-of-8 from behind the t3-point line and 13-of-17 from the field are numbers you would never expect from your center. 

“Once he hit that step-back 3 in the first half he got going and it just kind of went from there,” Nebraska guard C.J. Wilcher said. “He was super steady throughout the whole game. He was attacking them. Of course he is solid as heck on defense. He is just a package game completely.”

Mast added 10 rebounds to his 34 points, the fifth time he’s recorded a double-double this season and the 25th of his career.

His 34 points were the most by a Husker since Teddy Allen scored 41 against Penn State on Feb. 23, 2021.

The six made 3-pointers were the most by a Husker since Kobe Webster had seven at Northwestern on March 7, 2021. Mast’s previous career high was four against Southern Illinois on March 4, 2021.

“Like C.J. said, that step-back, yeah, you don’t hit that. I was kind of mad at myself for shooting it because I was just not thinking and I just shot it and it went in,” Mast said. “Then I thought, ‘It’s one of those days.’ But all basketball players know, I think we all know sometimes we have those days where it looks like the rim looks like an ocean. Everything you throw up goes in. Unfortunately, I don’t have those days that often, but once you have them it’s pretty fun. I don’t expect to shoot that exact same percentage next game, but this does give a lot of confidence.” 

Clearing 30 points, 10 rebounds and 75 percent from the field has only been done 12 times this season, according to CBB-reference. Purdue’s Zach Edey is the only other Big Ten player to do it in the 2023-24 season. 

Plus Bench Production

Wilcher’s 16 points is the 17th time in 20 games the Huskers had a bench player score in double figures. It is his third straight game in double figures and 10th of the season. In the last four games, Wilcher is averaging 10.8 points off the bench and his four 3-pointers Tuesday night tied a season-high.

Wilcher’s scoring ability has provided a spark off the bench, while Sam Hoiberg’s energy and toughness have been big on defense. Hoiberg didn’t make a field goal and only attempted two on Tuesday, but his four rebounds, two steals and only one turnover in 26:47 were critical. 

“Keisei [Tominaga] didn’t have it going tonight, C.J. came off, and he was phenomenal,” Hoiberg said. “Sam gave us really good minutes. I thought the game flipped with Sam’s energy off the bench. Eli [Rice] gave us great minutes off the bench as well, and he was a big part of those runs that we made out there on the floor.”

Hoiberg’s plus/minus (outscoring the opponent while the player was on the court) was plus-23, the same as Mast who had a career-high game. Wilcher wasn’t far behind with a plus-20 and Rice was plus-10 in his 14:33. 

Numbers

Tuesday was the third game Nebraska has played on Peacock. The Huskers are 3-0 (Oregon State, Purdue, Ohio State). In the three games Nebraska is shooting 48.6% (36-of-74) from 3-point range. 

Nebraska has scored 80 or more points 11 times, including in six of the last nine games. The Huskers are now 25-5 under Hoiberg and 20-2 in the last 22 games when scoring 80 or more. 

The Huskers tied a season-high with 14 3-pointers (Purdue). It is the 11th time this season the Huskers have had 10 or more 3-pointers in a game.

Nebraska’s 13 home wins are tied for the most in a season since the 2018-19 campaign. 

Tuesday’s win makes it three straight versus Ohio State, the first time NU has won three straight against Ohio State. The Huskers’ 83 points is the most Nebraska has scored in the 27 meetings with Ohio State.

The Huskers are 11-0 this season when holding opponents to 70 points or less. 

Tuesday Nebraska had a 35-28 rebounding advantage. The Huskers are now 10-0 when they out-rebound their opponent.

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