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Nebrasketball: Can't Handle Short-Handed Michigan

After a close loss to an undefeated Rutgers team at home, could the Huskers bounce back against Michigan?

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

A heartbreaker this past Saturday, Hoiberg and the boys hoped to change that with a homecourt win over Michigan, a team the Huskers are 1-10 against after joining the Big Ten. How did the Huskers fare?

The start? They fared well. Most articles I’ve written I’ve said the start is what makes this team, and tonight, a 5-0 run right off the bat is just what this team needed. A Cam Mack three also, a player that will hype the crowd more than any other. Maybe Thor, but Mack is the leader of this team.

Mack shot the lights out at Rutgers this past weekend, making four straight threes during the Huskers 18-2 run. When Mack’s arrows hit the center dot, crazy things happen for this team. Tonight, even though the arrows hit well, the rest of the crew couldn’t get it going.

Tonight was a game of runs, and they did not favor Nebraska. Even if the first half, when Nebraska would make it a game, the Huskers would go on a three to five minute scoring drought, something fans are way too familiar with this season. Momentum directly correlates with this team’s success, and when that momentum swings the other way, droughts occur.

If not for a Mack buzzer-beater floater at the end of the half, the Huskers would've went into the half not feeling too great, but they only trailed by five at halftime, 40-35, a comfortable deficit for a home Big Ten team. Mack and Kevin Cross led the team at half, each making threes and dishing assists, but unfortunately foul trouble forced Cross to exit the first half early.

By halftime, this Nebraska team needs more than one person carrying the team. Cross had 8, and while that helps the team, a reserve player should not be the second leading scorer on the team when it’s all said and done. Way too many times has Mack taken over in the first half, but has lacked surrounding help.

Heading into the second half, a fan won 1,000 dollars off of “Deal or No Deal” with the cheerleaders, so maybe things would change? At first, Nebraska took control of the ball. After trailing 50-43, Nebraska went on a 9-0 run to take the 52-50 lead. Kevin Cross led the way, and he played terrific tonight. Cross coming into night had the fifth highest reserve player points per game, and was the only true freshman on that list. Tonight, he made his name even more known.

However, as a decent amount of Huskers games have gone and how the first half went, a drought would occur, and the stadium went as dry as the team. A 52-50 lead at the 14 minute mark turned into a 69-55 deficit at the seven minute mark. A Mack three gave Nebraska 55 points, but besides that, the Huskers shot 1-11 after taking the 52-50 lead.

Continuing with the drought, Nebraska went almost six minutes without scoring, while Michigan went on a 21-4 run, and the score stayed a double digit deficit for the Huskers, trailing by 11 at the U4 media timeout.

Attending this game was a disappointment to say the least. Even though the Huskers came into this game as a four point underdog, it didn’t seem like that. However, Michigan presented a mismatch like no other. A long, well coached, defense stopped the Huskers, and the Wolverines never looked back.

Final score, 79-68 Michigan.

Things to keep note of? Back to back games Hoiberg has decided to keep Matej Kavas out of the game. Akol Arop even made an appearance this game with ten minutes to go in the second half to replace Yvan Ouedraogo. The first eight men seem to be set, with the starters plus Kevin Cross, Charlie Easley, and Jervay Green.

This lineup can win basketball games, it’s all about balance. This team feeds off of energy, and team play, but recently it has only been two players stealing the show. Everyone needs to contribute, and until that happens, who knows when the next win will happen, because this schedule does not favor the big red.

Saturday the Huskers hope Nebraska, where they’ll hope to contain Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins, and if they can do that, who knows what happens. But tonight was not a representation of what we saw this past weekend, and hopefully that image changes this weekend.