Before we get to the game coverage, a side note that it was the annual coaches versus cancer sneaker game:
Suits & Sneakers welcome.— Nebraska Basketball (@HuskerHoops) January 29, 2020
Saturday night's game against Penn State is our annual Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers Game to help raise awareness for the fight against cancer.@CoachesvsCancer x #GBR
Now onto the game coverage. You’ll quickly notice a big change in the starting line-up:
Cam Mack missed a film session and was benched for the start with Charlie Easley getting his first start in Mack’s place. Penn State won the opening tip, but a turnover resulted in Thorir Thorbjarnarson draining a three (while wearing a brace on his left wrist). Penn State couldn’t answer, and it was another three by Haanif Cheatham for a 6-0 start by the Huskers. Penn State got on the board with a mid-range jumper by Lamar Stevens, but Nebraska kept the heat on offense, jumping out to a 13-7 lead at the U-16 media timeout.
At the U-12 timeout it was a slim Penn State lead 21-20. The Nittany Lions finally woke up and hit their shots consistently on a few contested threes from deep, and a couple break downs on defense gave up mid-range jumpers as well. The highlight of this period was most definitely Yvan Ouedraogo getting a steal at half-court and slamming it down for the dunk.
Nebraska had their signature scoring drought coming out of the timeout. After a Thor three pointer with 12:08 to go, the Huskers didn’t score again until after the U-8 timeout off a dunk by Yvan with 7:03 to go. This kicked off a run by Nebraska after trailing 27-20. They cut Penn State’s lead to only one by the next timeout, 27-26.
Great defense overall in the first half saw Penn State settle for 20 three point attempts, compared to only 14 attempts from 2-point range. Huskers were even with Penn State on offensive boards, 6-6, and trail overall 23-20 in rebounds. Cheatham and Thor led the team with 10 points each, and the team shot 50% from three, going 5 of 10. Poor free throw shooting really held them back as they went 4-11 on the half.
We love you, B1G halftime entertainment. pic.twitter.com/IUW5E6StKr— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) February 2, 2020
It was a great first half at least. The second half saw quite the collapse for most of the period. The Huskers turned over the ball on three of their first five possessions coming out of the locker room and didn’t score until Burke converted a fast break at the 16:50 mark. At one point Nebraska trailed by 24 points. Credit where due, the Cornhuskers did manage to cut that deficit in half before the final buzzer. Nebraska also won the turnover battle, committing 13 compared to Penn State’s 16.
Overall cold shooting doomed the team. Only shooting 39% from the floor, especially at home, just isn’t acceptable at this point in the season. Some bright spots to take away from this stinker would include Thor’s 4-7 shooting for 12 points and 5 boards, along with Cheatham’s 15 points and 8 boards. Jervay Green also had some quality minutes if you look beyond his 2 points, and he grabbed 4 boards as well.
The Huskers also managed 38% shooting from three, which is helpful if they could have avoided their 39% shooting from 2 point range, and could have shot better than 8-19 from the free throw line (I mean, HOW DO YOU FREAKING SHOOT 42% FROM THE FREE THROW LINE IN P6 BASKETBALL?!). Sad stat for the day is Penn State got their first ever conference game win at Nebraska. The Nittany Lions were 0-7 in Lincoln since the Huskers joined the Big Ten, and hadn’t won a road game at Nebraska since 1995 when they visited for an NIT match-up.
And that’s a wrap on this one, 76-64 final as the Huskers drop their seventh straight game. Huskers head to Iowa City next Saturday for a 5 pm CT tip-off against the 18th ranked Iowa Hawkeyes.