What looked like a promising week for Nebraska basketball with a close game against Indiana and a big win against Purdue, some thought this team could maybe turn it around and win some Big Ten games.
Then they lost to North Dakota. And now the world is falling again. With a final tune-up game before Big Ten play the rest of the way, the game against a 4-8 Texas A&M Corpus Christi is a nice opportunity for Fred and his boys in Lincoln.
The offense, however, didn’t seem to get the memo of when the game tipped off. The Huskers, as well as the Islanders, scored five points in the first five minutes of the game. Four of those points came from the consistent hand of Haanif Cheatham.
A trading of threes at the 14-minute mark between Thorir Thorbjarnarson and Jordan Hairston would mark the last point for the Islaneders the next three minutes. The Huskers, however, would go on an 11-0 run, to take a 19-8 lead with 11 minutes to go. Dachon Burke, Cam Mack and Jervay Green all contributed to the scoreboard.
Like that run? What if I told you it was part of a larger one?
After the Islanders scored a quick four while the Huskers only got one, there was another quick ten-point run by Hoiberg’s squad. Seven of those points were, again, from Cheatham, who had 11 points with four and a half minutes to go.
The next two minutes, TAMCC flipped the script, going on a seven-point run for themselves to cut that 18-point lead to only 11 with two minutes to go in the half. Two-pointers from Mack and Thor gave the Huskers some more points before the break.
Nebraska leads at half 34-21, with Cheatham being the Huskers’ leading scorer.
A back-and-forth the start the half kept the Islanders at arms’ length, but the Islanders’ scored a quick five to bring it to only ten points.
Thor splashed a three to make sure they knew there was no chance of another bad loss on the Huskers’ resume. Cheatham’s next five points put that lead right back up to 15 with less than 13 minutes to go.
The Islanders pulled within 12 points thanks to the twelfth point from Islanders’ freshman Jordan Hairston. Then, an unexpected Husker decided that this wouldn’t be another game where offensive troubles let the team slip. 18-year-old freshman Frenchmen Yvan Ouedrago scored four straight, two of them from the free throw line.
That included this nice give-and-go from Mack to Yvan.
Huskers went up 16, 53-37, and didn’t look back. That was immediately followed by the proverbial “nail in the coffin”, an alley-oop slam from Mack to Green.
Thanks to Green, Ouedrago, Mack and Matej Kavas pushed the lead all the way to 24 with five minutes to go. Even fan-favorite Charlie Easley got in on the action with a three-pointer. Most surprising was Yvan’s domination down low and on the boards. He finished the game with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
Huskers get a win against their final non-conference opponents. Cheatham led the Huskers with 17, while Hairston from TAMCC had 19.
While the game lacked a lot of excitement and offensive rhythm, Nebraska did what they needed to do against a far worse squad. It didn’t look pretty, but getting a 21-point win when the game is slow and you shoot poorly is good for any team.
Huskers open up the rest of their conference schedule on Friday against Rutgers.