Offensive Rebounds Kill.
There's no better way to sum up Nebraska's 64-63 loss to Pac-10 cellar dweller Oregon State. The problem with a one-point loss is that it's hard to point at any particular part of the game and say that it was the lone reason you lost. Saturday night was partly that: The Huskers missed some easy shots, let Oregon State get open a little too much, and got a little too aggressive at times and got into foul trouble.
But, there is one thing you can point to and say that's why Nebraska lost: rebounding. Specifically, the inability to pick up defensive boards. Oregon State picked up offensive boards on 40% of its opportunities to do so, and you can't give up that many second (and third and fourth) chances, especially in a tight game.
On the good side, the Huskers executed very, very well offensively, even if they missed the shots. There was good penetration all night, even if it didn't necessarily turn into points. If the baskets had been falling (there weren't a lot of bad shots taken), Nebraska would have won the game easily.
Defensively, Oregon State got a few open looks, but it was their second-and-third attempts that got their points. Oh, and 24 forced turnovers is good any day (and set up 25 NU points).
Fortunately, there's some home guarantee games before conference play starts against Missouri in January. Hopefully, some of the kinks can get worked out.
Offense: B. See above: good execution, good penetration, missed shots.
Defense: B. Forced turnovers, but left some open shots. Also, didn't do well out of set plays. A little too much contact on the defensive end, though, led to severe foul trouble.
Rebounding: D-. Outrebounded 40-25, giving up 14 offensive boards. Not a good mix at all. Too many second-, third-, and fourth-chance opportunities for the Beavers.
Ball Handling: B+. Generally did a good job, but there were some sloppy turnovers. Only 3 TOs in the second half.
Coaching: A. Good execution reflects well on the coaching job, so Doc gets a good mark here. The rotation was a little smaller this time, with 6 players logging 20+ minutes instead of the normal 9.
Gill Arena Clock Operator: 21.4. When Nebraska called it's last timeout, there was clearly 21.4 seconds remaining on the clock. However, during Nebraska's timeout, the clock continued to run. The clock was then reset, first to 21.4, then to 27.0 (the time before OSU's free throws), then to 26.1 after the clock didn't run as NU got halfway down the court. Regardless, you can imagine that the last few possessions would have been very, very different without those extra 5 seconds.
Pacific Northwest Husker Fans: A+. There were quite a few Husker fans in attendance Saturday night (and not just Ryan Anderson's family), and they did a good job drowning out the Oregon State crowd for much of the game. It wasn't quite a home-game atmosphere, but a good showing for a game 1500 miles from home.
Overall: C+. The Huskers generally played well enough to win, but there were a few mistakes that gave the game away. Good execution on both ends generally should translate to Ws. If the easy shots start to fall instead of rim out, this game easily shifts well to NU's favor.
Player of the Game: Toney McCray. 13 points, 7 boards, 2 steals, and a block is a pretty good line for the freshman. McCray hustled all around the court and earned himself some quality minutes. He also managed to get half of NU's offensive boards, and may get more minutes to try to address the rebounding problem.
Next Game: IPFW, 7 PM Saturday (no TV)