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Nebrasketball: Kennesaw State Preview

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Huskers look to reverse 5-game skid

NCAA Basketball: Kansas State at Nebraska Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Kennesaw State Preview

Date: Wednesday, December 22

Time: 6:30pm CST

Television: ESPNU

Location: Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Nebraska

Owls’ Record: 4-7 (0-0, ASUN)

Head Coach: Amir Abdur-Rahim (10-54 in his 3rd season at Kennesaw State)

Following its 67-58 loss to Kansas State Sunday, Nebraska is now riding a five-game losing skid and dropped to 5-7 on the year. Fred Hoiberg’s club is in need of a win in its final nonconference game of the year to reverse momentum heading into Big Ten play.

Nebraska is 7-0 against the Atlantic Sun Conference while Kennesaw State is 0-8 against the Big Ten. This game, however, is not a gimmee for Big Red.

The Owls began the year with an 84-73 loss to Iowa State and a 51-44 setback to Creighton. Amir Abdur-Rahim’s club also fell to Wake Forest 92-61. Despite coming up short in seven of 11 contests, Kennesaw State has outscored its opposition 840 (76.4)-793 (72.1). In their four wins, the Owls knocked off Piedmont College, Carver College, Charleston Southern and Voorhees College 367 (91.75)-223 (55.75) collectively.

Before coming to Kennesaw State, Abdur-Rahim was an assistant coach at College of Charleston, Murray State, Texas A&M and Georgia. He was also the Director of Player Development at Georgia Tech. Now, in his third year at Kennesaw State, Abdur-Rahim is 10-54.

The same five players have started every game for Kennesaw State in 2021-22. Nine players have played in nine or more games this season while eight players have competed in all 11 contests.

The Owls (4-7) are led by 6-foot-4 guard Chris Youngblood who averages 13.5 points a game, seventh best in the ASUN. The sophomore has also been credited with 5.4 rebounds per game and 1.2 assists. Spencer Rodgers averages 12 points a contest. The 6-4 senior guard added averages of 5.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.4 steals to his stat line through Sundays contest.

Terrell Burden, a 5-10 junior guard, rips the cords for 11 points a night and averages 2.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.5 steals for Kennesaw State while Demond Robinson pours in 8.2 points an outing and sits eighth in the conference with a 55.4 field goal percentage. Brandon Stroud is Abdur-Rahim’s fifth starter. The 6-6 sophomore guard averages 5.3 points and 3.5 boards.

Kasen Jennings (6-3, So., Guard), Alex Peterson (6-7, Sr., Forward) and Nate Springs (6-10, Jr., Forward) have played in all 11 games and average 15.7 points collectively. Cole LaRue, meanwhile, has played in nine games and averages just over two points a contest.

In all, Kennesaw State’s bench averages 26.4 points an outing. The Owls rank fourth in the ASUN in both points scored (76.4) and points allowed (72.1) per contest. Kennesaw State sits third in the league in field goal percentage (46.4 percent), fifth in rebounds per contest (36.2) and fourth in rebounds allowed per game (31.5).

In trying to snap its five-game skid, the Huskers will be taking on an Owl program that has faced a Top 25 strength of schedule according to the Men’s Basketball RPI.

Arizona State transfer Alonzo Verge, Jr. leads the way for Nebraska. The 6-3 senior guard has started all 12 games for Big Red and averages 16.4 points and 5.7 rebounds an outing. Verge has also been credited with 65 assists, 19 steals and three blocked shots on the year.

True freshman Bryce McGowens received Freshman of the Week honors for the third time Sunday after scoring 14 points, pulling down three rebounds, dishing out two assists and blocking a shot in the nine-point loss to Kansas State. The 6-7 guard averages 16 points and 6.1 rebounds an outing while dishing out 21 assists in 2021-22.

Derrick Walker pours in nearly nine points a contest. The 6-9 junior forward also pulls down 6.6 rebounds and has dished out 15 assists and blocked 15 shots on the year. Lat Mayen has started in 11 of 12 contests and averages 4.5 points an outing. The 6-9 junior forward also pulls down 3.3 rebounds per game.

Four-game starter Keisei Tominaga, a 6-2 sophomore guard, averages 7.8 points per contest and has been credited with 15 steals on the year. Keon Edwwards (6-7, Fr., Guard) and C. J. Wilcher (6-5, Fr., Guard) both have starting experience this season and lead a solid bench that includes Kobe Webster (6-0, Sr., Guard) and Eduardo Andre (6-11, Fr., Forward).

Verge’s 16.4 points per game ranks tenth in the Big Ten while his 5.4 assists per outing ranks second among players listed on Big Ten rosters. McGowens averages 33.8 minutes a contest which ranks seventh in the league and his .816 free throw percentage is seventh best in the conference. Walker’s 1.3 blocked shots per game ranks eighth in the B1G.

As a team, Nebraska’s 3.25 turnover margin ranks fourth in the Big Ten while its 7.92 steals an outing ranks second to Iowa’s 8.18. Nebraska’s average attendance of 15,404 ranks second to Wisconsin’s 16,094.