How this game played out wasn't really all that surprising. The Huskers (6-3) went to Eugene, Oregon (9-1) Saturday afternoon looking to pick up their second road victory in as many tries. The quality of this opponent, however was a fairly significant step up from what they faced on their last roadie vs. Wake Forest. The Ducks featured five players averaging more than 10 points per game and another about three layups away from joining that company. There's no doubting this trip would be a challenge.
The Huskers struggled in all the areas they can't have off nights, falling 60-38. They missed close shots, they turned the ball the over, struggled to find a secondary scorer when main players were having an off night, they couldn't get to the free throw line and struggled to compete on the boards. They did actually do a pretty solid job defensively vs. the explosive Oregon attack, they just had no answer on the other end of the floor for Oregon's athleticism and length.
The Huskers found themselves in foul trouble much of the afternoon. Both Andre Almedia, who was held scoreless, and Mike Peltz had to sit much of the first half with three fouls apiece before ten minutes had passed in the game. The Huskers were not able to overcome these struggles as they were held to a season low in points. Brandon Ubel was held to a season low 5 points as well as the Huskers struggled to get any sort of game going in the paint.
The Huskers were outshot 46% to 30% and out rebounded by nearly 20. They only hit 3 of 17 from behind the arc and turned the ball over 16 times. If there was a bright spot for the Huskers it was that they did play pretty well defensively, turning over Oregon 16 times as well. Another bright spot was the continued emergence of freshman forward Shavon Shields who, despite missing five games early in the season continues to look more comfortable playing D1 basketball. He poured in seven points and if his emergence continues, he'll be a big boost to the Huskers as this season progresses.
Never-the-less, the Huskers will continue to face challenges similar to this one today, and often tougher ones. The Huskers can't continue to get to the free throw line as few as seven times and get outrebounded by 20 and expect to win many games. There will still be games for Nebraska to win this season, even in conference play, but as we get into conference play in a couple of weeks, the opponents will be more similar to what the Huskers faced in Oregon, not Wake Forest. Husker fans, if you haven't prepared for that reality, it might be time to start doing that. There will be moments where this team will play well and make shots, but in a conference as talented as the Big Ten, it will put a premium on skill sets the Huskers, frankly, lack.
The Huskers will return home Tuesday night to take on Jacksonville State at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. Tip off is at 7pm.