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Nebraska Basketball Preview: Huskers vs Ducks

The Huskers look for their first win in Eugene since 1987 when they face the Ducks Saturday following a nine-day break for final exams.

David McGee

Nebraska Cornhuskers (6-2) vs Oregon Ducks (8-1)

December 15, 2012 :: 3:30 p.m.(CT) :: Matthew Knight Arena :: Eugene

TV :: Fox Sports Net

I bet you guys are wondering who this new person is bringing you this preview. Well my name is Greg and I just moved back to Nebraska after being away for a couple years. I just couldn't escape "the good life!" I graduated from Nebraska and love all things Huskers just like the rest of you. I look forward to sharing my opinions here with you guys and I'm thrilled to come into such a great sports community.

Nebraska comes in with a 6-2 record after a blowout loss to instate rival, Creighton last Thursday at home. They lost that game 42-64 and will be looking to bounce back against on the road after shooting just 32 percent from the field against Creighton in their last game. Nebraska will be up against a familiar face in Coach Dana Altman at Oregon. Leave it to Coach Miles to have a great line when asked about facing Altman: "I’m going to take him some Runzas and try to soften him up early." Oregon comes in with a record of 8-1 with their only loss coming on a neutral site to Cincinnati. In their most recent game, they dominated Idaho State 87-35. The Ducks come into the contest looking to extend their winning streak to 4 games as they welcome Nebraska to Eugene.

Last year in a matchup at the Bob Devany Center, Oregon came out on top 83-76. Despite a strong comeback effort by the Huskers, they were not able to overcome the Ducks. This year Tim Miles and the Huskers will hope leading scorer Dylan Talley who averages 15.4, 5.9 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game will be able to lead them to the upset victory. The Huskers will also need a strong performance from their 6'10" Forward Brandon Ubell who is averaging 13.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.

Oregon will hope to continue their balanced scoring attack, led by 6'5" Freshman Guard Damyean Dotson, who currently leads the team in scoring with 11.3 points per game. The Ducks have five players who average double figures in points per game and a sixth player who averages 9.3 points per game. Included in those five players is their talented sixth man, Forward Carlos Emory. Emory averages 10.8 points per game and 4.7 rebounds per game so far this season.

Here are a few keys to the game:

Nebraska's defense limiting Oregon's offensive attack: Nebraska is giving up 59.3 points per game which is good for 57th in the nation. However, Oregon averages 79.4 points per game which is 27th in the nation so what's going to give? Oregon is a team that likes to push the tempo and has a lot of different players that can score at any given time. It will be a key for the Huskers to play good transition defense and limit fast break opportunities and points for Oregon. The good news for Nebraska, is that their defense has been stellar all season long even including the loss to Creighton. They gave up 64 points to the Blue Jays but that was 20 points below their season average. The Huskers have held four of their opponents to season lows in points and will need to continue that type of effort to slow down the Ducks.

Bench production must improve: The Huskers could only muster up 7 points off the bench in the win over USC and 7 points in the loss to Creighton. The team does not have a lot of depth as shown by Talley and Gallegos ranking second and fourth in the Big Ten in minutes played per game. However, the team will need some spark off the bench to take pressure off the starters. We have a long way to go through this season and if the team hopes to not only win this game but compete in a tough Big Ten, production from the bench will be vital. A nice game by David Rivers will be counted on to give the Huskers some firepower off the bench. Look for the Sophomore to continue to get looks as he continues to improve.

Continue taking care of the ball: Nebraska only averages 11 turnovers per game which is currently 33rd in the nation. Like I mentioned above, Oregon likes to run and a nice way to stop teams from running is not turning the ball over. If Nebraska can keep their giveaways to under 10 in this game it will help them a lot. Starting Freshman Point Guard Benny Parker will have the spotlight on him to effectively run the offense and continue to pass the ball well and set up his teammates. He is currently averaging just under 3 assists per game and just about 1 turnover per game. Nebraska will need that kind of ball handling from him to be successful in this game.