Nebrasketball gave Husker fans one more gift for Christmas in the form of a 71-58 win over the Ohio Bobcats.
At this point, we know what Nebraska is... A very streaky team that plays solid defense, but can go through some ugly scoring droughts. Today was no different. Nebraska opened the game hot, breaking out to a 10-2 lead. After Ohio pulled within three points Nebraska went on another big run pulling out to a 20-11 lead with 12:35 left in the first half. This is where things get ugly. Nebraska was stuck at 20 points until two free throws ended the drought with just over six minutes left in the half. It took until the 4:30 mark to get its first field goal in nearly eight minutes. Nebraska ended the half with a narrow two-point lead.
The second half went a lot better for the Huskers. Nebraska pulled away in the second half due in large part to only turning the ball over four times. We have seen the lack of ball security early this season, and it wasn't any better in the first half today. Nebraska was able to cut down on the turnovers in the second half, and the result was outscoring Ohio by 11 points and securing a comfortable win.
Shavon Shields and Terran Petteway led the Huskers with 22 points apiece. Petteway added ten boards to get his second double-double of the season. Walter Pitchford is close to returning to form. He had nine points and five boards. Pitchford was a toenail away from 11 points, as he was stepping on the three-point line for two field goals. David Rivers continues to give solid minutes and led the Huskers with 13 rebounds including six offensive boards.
Nebraska does not look like a team that is ready to compete in the Big Ten. The loss of Moses Abraham and Leslee Smith was obviously huge, but the lack of defensive rebounding and any interior offense is frightening. Nebraska is done with its non-conference schedule, and to say it has been a disappointment would be an understatement.
Nebraska enters Big Ten play with an 8-4 record. There are several keys for the Huskers to bounce back for conference play. The return of Moses Abraham and possibly Leslee Smith may be the biggest. If Nebraska can get one or both of those guys back it will make a solid defense that much better. Last year Smith was extremely efficient inside on both offense and defense, which Nebraska has been lacking all season.
Another key is the play of Tarin Smith. As well as Benny Parker has been playing, Smith should get a look at the starting spot. Smith has shown flashes of brilliance and has the potential to be a special player for the Huskers. He is the true point guard Nebraska has been lacking for so long.
Nebraska opens up Big Ten play on New Years Eve versus Indiana at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Tip off is set for 4:30 and can be seen on the Big Ten Network.