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Nebrasketball: Southern Utah Preview

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The Hoiberg era gets a second try at its first win on Saturday. Will hot shooting lift the Huskers to new altitudes to defeat the Thunderbirds?!

NCAA Basketball: Big Sky Conference Tournament: Eastern Washington vs Southern Utah Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Southern Utah Preview

Date: Saturday, November 9th

Location: Lincoln, NE

Time: 1:00pm CST/2:00pm EST

TV: BTN+ ($)

2019-2020 Season Record: 1-0
2018-2019 Season Record: 10-23
2018-2019 Conference Record: 4-12

Big Sky Conference

Mascot: Thunderbird

Head Coach: Todd Simon (Entering 4th season and is a fellow Michigander like yours truly and is from near Lansing and graduated from Central Michigan. Was an associate HC at UNLV for three years before becoming Interim HC in Jan. 2016)

Previous Season:

Southern Utah finished last season with one of their best records in decades, finishing 17-17 and 9-11 in conference play, finishing 7th. They did manage to make it to the counference tourney semi-final and won their first round in the CollegeInsider.com post-season tournament. They went 11-4 at home and managed 4-12 on the road while finishing 229th in RPI. They managed to knock off 205th Weber State and 213th Seattle on the road while suffering only a 5 point loss on the road to UNLV (176th).

Coach Simon comes from a pedigree of fast paced offense at UNLV where his runnin rebels ranked first in the country for adjusted tempo during his 17 game interim stretch, and SUU seems to match that style of play coming in at 35th for adjusted tempo per KenPom last season. However, the shots just didn’t fall much for them coming in at 311th in adjusted offensive efficiency. Defense was their strength, coming in at 199th in adjusted efficiency.

Current Season:

They return leading scorer and rising redshirt senior guard Cameron Oluyitan who averaged 13.1 points a game on 44.6% shooting from inside the arc but only 36.2% from three. He managed 4.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists while turning the ball over 2.5 times a game averaging a team high 32.4 minutes a game. On the glass, rising sophomore Harrison Butler returns to help with his average 6.5 rebounds a game along with his 10.3 points a game in 25.7 minutes. He was only averaging 49.7% shooting, however. Challenging him will be rising senior Andre Adams who last season average of 22.4 minutes saw 6.3 rebounds a game and 9.8 points on 57.5% shooting.

Overall they return most of their key pieces with 4 of their 6 players averaging the most minutes and production returning. Southern Utah is coming off a big point-margin win in their season opener, having beat Bethesda College 110-66 Tuesday night.

As for production on the floor so far this season, Southern Utah got a fair bit out of their roster in the opener. I’ve never heard of Bethesda College, but apparently they are located Anaheim, CA. They are also not named “Bethesda College” as listed on Southern Utah’s athletics website, but rather “Bethesda University.” So hopefully their basketball team gets sent to University of Nebraska Kearney because their support staff are confused on locations.

Junior Dre Marin started at guard for the Thunderbirds and led the team in scoring with 20 points. He shot 64% from the floor and went 2-5 from behind the arc as well. RS senior Cameron Oluyitan paced the team in minutes and assists, seeing the floor for 27 of them while dishing the ball out for 7 assists, and managed 15 points of his own. Dwayne Morgan chipped in for 18, Jakolby Long for 16, and John Knight III (no relation to yours truly) had 14 to round out the double digit scorers.

The Thunderbirds outrebounded Bethesda 37-27 on the defensive glass and 10-7 on the offensive end. Harrison Butler led the team with 12 and Jarryd Hoppo came down with 8. Bethesda turned the ball over 23 times, 16 of which were steals, but Southern Utah coughed it up 14 themselves, 6 of which were steals by Bethesda. Possibly concerning is the 7 blocks Southern Utah got as well.

Prediction:

Hell if I know. If the shooting is cold by the Huskers, they go to 0-2 on the season. If they remember how to share the ball and hit open shots, this is probably a 12 point win. Before anyone says I was feeding you rainbows and unicorns all off-season, remember I pointed out in the Creighton preview I had absolutely no clue what to expect out of the team so my prediction portions were just me having fun. There will be plenty of rough nights early-on as a completely new roster figures out how to play together. This isn’t D2 The Mighty Ducks where Gordon Bombay pieces together a new roster and wins against everyone except Iceland until a rematch. Real life it takes time to put the pieces together. Also, Thor, we won that rematch in the finals for the Junior Goodwill Games, so take that!!! So I’ll cling to that analogy to get me through the rough opening night of going 0-3 (App. St. didn’t finish out their 22 point run to topple Michigan, but did prove why the AD is stupid for continuing to schedule them).