Nebraska Cornhuskers (0-1) vs Sam Houston State BearKats (1-0)
Friday, Nov. 12, 2021 – 7:30 p.m.
Pinnacle Bank Arena
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Internet: BTN+ (subscription required)
1. Rebound the damn ball
There is no more significant issue facing Nebraska right now, and probably for the rest of the season, than rebounding.
The Huskers have been an absolute disaster on the glass so far, giving up an astounding 58 offensive rebounds over their two exhibitions and Tuesday’s loss to Western Illinois.
That includes allowing 23 offensive boards over each of the past two outings vs. Colorado and WIU, leading to a 41-21 disadvantage in second-chance points.
If NU is going to beat anyone, whether it be an opponent from the Summit League or the Big Ten, it has to be at least a remotely competitive rebounding team. It can’t continue to give teams one extra possession after another.
Sam Houston State might not be the biggest team Nebraska will face this season, but the BearKats will be as relentless as anyone in crashing the glass after every shot.
The Huskers better be ready to fight a lot harder than they did on Tuesday night, or another upset will undoubtedly be on the table.
2. Move the ball
When Nebraska did get a rebound against Western Illinois, it was often disjointed and stagnant on offense.
Alonzo Verge Jr. and Bryce McGowens combined for 51 points in the loss, but they did it by taking 38 of the team’s 59 total shots. The Huskers ended up with just six assists, including one in the first half.
The Huskers’ offense needs to play like the team that showed up against Colorado, where they assisted on 17 of their 30 made baskets and had 10 players score in the win.
The isolation, one-on-one stuff has to stop, even if defensive switches set up promising matchups. If the initial shot or drive to the basket isn’t there, pass the ball. Movement is everything for Fred Hoiberg’s offense to work.
3. Take care of the ball
Not only is Sam Houston State going to crash the boards after every shot, but the BearKats are also going to turn up the heat on Nebraska’s ball handlers from the opening tip.
SHSU ranked 37th nationally in defensive turnover percentage and 12th in defensive steal rate last season, so there’s no doubt they will be looking to fluster NU’s guards and create offense through turnovers.
What’s especially concerning is that Nebraska’s primary point guards – Verge, Trey McGowens, and Bryce McGowens – combined for seven of the team’s 12 turnovers against a Western Illinois team that hardly pressed at all.
There’s a chance that senior guard Kobe Webster (back) could return to the lineup tonight, and having his veteran presence could be a nice asset in settling things down and controlling the basketball.
But whoever is on the floor for NU’s backcourt better be ready for a 40-minute test from the BearKats.
Nebraska (-11.5) 82, Sam Houston State 70
Robin’s season record: 0-1
vs. the spread: 0-1