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Well-Rested Huskers to Host Penn State

by Feb 16, 2024Nebraska Mens Basketball

Nebraska Cornhusker guard Brice Williams (3) gives a high five to forward Rienk Mast (51) in the second half against the Michigan Wolverines 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 in Big Ten play when it hosts Penn State on Saturday morning at Pinnacle Bank Arena. 

Tip-off is set for 11 a.m. CT and the game will be televised on Big Ten Network with Connor Onion and Nick Bahe on the call. 

Well Rested

Nebraska was the last team in the league to get a bye week, meaning no mid-week game. The Huskers needed the break to get back to as close to 100% as possible. 

“It came at a good time,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We had several players that were banged up after the crazy schedule that we completed … Our guys were feeling it, they were feeling the effects, they were beat up.”

The rest was much needed to make a postseason push with six games remaining in the regular season. Nebraska had two days off from practice this week, Sunday and Tuesday, to give their bodies time to recover. 

“We were able to get our guys a couple of days of rest but it’s also very important to keep the edge that we had played with in the Michigan game,” Hoiberg said. 

Meeting the Standard

After the Michigan win, Josiah Allick gave an in-depth answer about playing to a standard every game the Huskers take the court. 

Penn State is 12-13 overall and 6-8 in the league. The Nittany Lions come to Lincoln after dropping a home game Wednesday to Michigan State, 80-72. Prior to losing back-to-back games to Northwestern and Michigan State, they had won three straight including road wins at Indiana and Rutgers.

The Huskers knows they don’t have room to take the Nittany Lions lightly. 

“We have our standards that we try to live up to every day, all programs do,” Hoiberg said. “For the most part, our guys have done that. For the most part, our guys have come in with a professional approach. They have very few off days and they bring it every time they step on the court, which is a luxury as a coach when you have a group like that that comes to work every day. Our guys have lived up to the standards that we talked about from the very first day that we put this group together.”

Numbers to Know

Saturday’s game is the 27th meeting between Nebraska and Penn State. The Nittany Lions hold a 14-12 advantage in the series. Since Nebraska joined the Big Ten, the Huskers are 11-12 against the Nittany Lions (11-9 in the regular season; 0-3 in the Big Ten Tournament). The teams played three times before Nebraska joined the Big Ten, a home-and-home series in 1980 and 1981 and in the second round of the 1995 NIT.

A pair of dynamic guards lead the way for this year’s Nittany Lions under first-year coach Mike Rhoades. Kanye Clary is averaging 16.7 points and shooting 37.7% from 3 while Ace Baldwin is at 14.2 points. 5.2 assists and 2.7 steals per game. However, Clary will not play in Lincoln. Defensively, the Nittany Lions force turnovers on 21.5% of their opponent’s possessions, 25th in the country; ball security and good decision-making will be key for the Huskers to pull out a victory.

A few Huskers are on milestone watch Saturday. Keisei Tominaga Is six 3-pointers away from eighth place on Nebraska’s career list. He is also 16 points from moving past Jamar Johnson for 37th on the Huskers’ career scoring list. C.J. Wilcher is 14 points from 800 for his career and is one 3-pointer from 150 in his career. Rienk Mast needs eight rebounds to reach 850 for his college career while Juwan Gary needs 20 points to reach 700 for his career.

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