Don't call it an upset. It certainly wasn't pretty basketball at times, well, at all really, but it was a win for a Nebraska basketball team that is going to need wins wherever they can find them. Much of the conversation leading up to the game was that Nebraska was facing a team that was considered to be considerably better than them, but the game that actually took place told a different story. Valparaiso, which had made 13 three pointers in each of their first two games made only two. Nebraska made life difficult on the Crusader perimeter all night, over playing the three point shooters and making life difficult for a previously touted squad. The Huskers played with a high defensive intensity all night which clearly had Valpo off balance and uncomfortable.
Offensively, many of the old problems that Husker fans have grown accustomed to reemerged. There was some poor shot selection, some missing of layups and taking shots outside of the offense which led to a scoring drought over the final seven minutes of the game that almost cost the team the game. There was some encouraging things today, however. Brandon Ubel and Ray Gallegos both had strong games, pacing the Huskers with 17 and 14, respectively. Gallegos hit his first four three point attempts, but it was Ubel who was really the difference in the game. After the Huskers built a 12 point lead, Valparaiso guard Ben Boggs hit a three and a driving layup on consecutive possessions to cut the NU lead to 7. Ubel answered with four points to quell the rally.
Valpo would get back into the game, though, as NU went on one of their familiar scoring droughts as the game came to an end. The Crusaders cut the lead to two with under 14 seconds to play, but Ubel hit two free throws to put the Husker lead back to 4. The Crusaders answered with a pair of free throws of their own before putting Andre Almedia on the line with 1.7 left. He missed the free throw which gave Valparaiso one last shot at a three quarter court heave as time expired which fell significantly short.
All told, it was a solid win from a squad few expect much from. The win sets up NU to start the season 5-0 before heading to Wake Forest in the Big Ten/ACC challenge, which starts a streak of four games vs. teams most people have heard of. Nebraska was able to come out and take care of business.
Next up for the Huskers is their first matchup with Nebraska-Omaha since they made the jump to Division 1. Nebraska will host the Mavs Sunday afternoon at 2:00 pm at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. At last check, tickets were still available.