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Toughness Key as Huskers Host Minnesota

by Feb 25, 2024Nebraska Mens Basketball

Nebraska Cornhusker guard Keisei Tominaga (30) drives to the basket against Michigan Wolverine guard Nimari Burnett (4) in the second half during a college basketball game on Saturday, February 10, 2024, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Photo by John S. Peterson.
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska men’s basketball will look to stay unbeaten at home when the Huskers host Minnesota on Sunday in front of a sold-out Pinnacle Bank Arena. 

Tip-off is set for 5:31 p.m. CT and the game will be televised on Big Ten Network with Kevin Kugler and Jess Settles on the call. 

The Huskers will look to even the series with Minnesota after giving up a 15-point halftime lead and falling to the Golden Gophers 76-65 in Minneapolis in December.


In his media availability Saturday, Fred Hoiberg said ‘We just got out-toughed’ when referring to the December loss to Minnesota. 

Nebraska has put together three straight wins, including its lone road win in conference play at Indiana on Wednesday. Hoiberg knows both teams are different than the last matchup nearly two months ago. 

“We are a much different team now,” Hoiberg said. “So are they. They are playing as good as anybody in our league. When you look at what has happened their last seven, their only two losses are to Iowa where they had a 20-point lead with 10 minutes to go and they had a 10-point lead at Purdue … This team is humming right now.”

Minnesota’s size and physicality stand out and could be a matchup problem for the Huskers on Sunday night. Rebounding and limiting second-chance points will be a key stat to watch. 

“They’ve got big, strong, physical players and we need to do a much better job of finding a body and making good early contact and finishing off possessions,” Hoiberg said. 

Nebraska gave up 14 second-chance points on 13 offensive rebounds to Minnesota in December. 

The Huskers are still figuring out a way to play a consistent 40-minute game on both ends of the floor. 

“We have to go out there and expect a full 40-minute physical game,” Hoiberg said. “You can’t do it for 20. We’ve shown that in this league when you go out and sustain it like we do, we’re a really good basketball team. When we don’t, we are pretty pedestrian.”

Pick Sixes and Defense

The Huskers had 18 turnovers and gave up 24 bench points in Minneapolis. Recently, they have done a better job of limiting turnovers that result in run-outs or “pick-sixes.” 

“We are doing a better job of not forcing the issue … We are doing a better job of reading — if the first option isn’t there, going to option B or option C,” Hoiberg said. “You just have to be strong with the ball, you have to be tough with the ball. Turnovers and rebounding, that was the issue in the first game and that has been the issue all season when we’ve not played well. When we’ve done a good job, we’ve done a solid job of taking care of it, we’ve done a good job on the glass and that is going to be key for tomorrow night’s game.” 

Over the last six games, Nebraska’s defense is averaging 69.5 points per game, which is eight points per game fewer than the team gave up in January. The Huskers have held all six opponents in February under 43% shooting and have climbed to 47th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency on KenPom. 

Numbers to Know

Nebraska enters Sunday’s game with a 16-1 home record and can match the school record for home wins in a season on Sunday. They won 17 home games three times in program history, most recently in 2010-11. 

Nebraska enters Wednesday’s game with a 19-8 record, which matches the Huskers’ best 27-game record since joining the Big Ten in the 2011-12 season (also 19-8 in 2017-18).  The last time Nebraska had a better record after 27 games was in 1990-91 (22-5). Nebraska was also 19-8 in 1991-92 and 1992-93.

A few Huskers are approaching milestones heading into Sunday’s game. Keisei Tominaga is five points away from moving past Terrance Badgett for 36th on the career scoring list. He needs 51 points to become the 31st player in school history to reach 1,000 points at Nebraska. C.J. Wilcher is eight points from 800 for his career and 750 points at Nebraska. Wilcher is 20 points away from cracking the top 60 scorers on Nebraska’s career list.

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