The Nebraska Cornhuskers faced the Minnesota Golden Gophers for the second time this season, and avenged their 79-61 loss earlier this year in Dinkytown with a clutch 78-74 win in Lincoln led in huge ways by senior Husker guard and longtime resident Nordic God Thorir Thorbjarnarson.
By the way, if you want a great meltdown read (and, frankly, a well deserved conclusion in regards to firing Pitino Jr. who likely only was retained a year ago due to COVID-19), then definitely check out this over at The Daily Gopher.
As for the action Saturday night in Lincoln, Thor got the start and iced the finish with two clutch free throws to push the lead to its final four point margin. Thor finished the game with 10 points, while also grabbing four boards and dishing two crucial assists late during Minnesota’s furious comeback from 13-down to a single possession with 2:39 left and again numerous times down the stretch.
Overall the team finished with five players in double figures and nineteen total assists. The Huskers also shot 7-for-17 from three point range. Despite 18 total turnovers the Gophers converted for 24 points and their 24 attempts from the free throw line, the at times sloppy game was a pleasure to watch for win starved Husker fans who actually watched.
While Teddy Allen sat the entire second half and played just ten total minutes going scoreless, the rest of the roster came together to outscore Marcus Carr’s 41 points on the night. Dalano Banton led the team with 14 points, Derrick Walker added 12, Trey McGowens 11, while Kobe Webster and Thor each added 10. Lat Mayen’s nine points and Eduardo Andre’s seven helped round out a team effort.
Walker led on the boards with nine, falling just shy of a double-double, and led the team with three blocks. McGowens led in assist with five, while Webster added four. Both of them along with Allen each grabbed two steals apiece as well.
The Huskers moved to 6-17 on the season and 2-14 in Big Ten action. It was the team’s first home win in Big Ten play since Jan. 7, 2020.
Fred Hoiberg Post-Game
Thorir Thorbjarnarson Post-Game
Kobe Webster Post-Game
Derrick Walker Post-Game
The Nebraska Cornhuskers welcome to Lincoln the Rutgers Scarlet Knights for the only game between the two programs this season. Not only that, the calendar officially flips over to the most wonderful month of the year for college hoops fans, MARCH MADNESS!!!!!
6:01 p.m. CST/7:01 EST Monday, Mar. 1
Pinnacle Bank Arena - Lincoln, NE
TV: Big Ten Network
Play-by-play: Kevin Kugler
Analyst: Shon Morris
Online Broadcast: Fox Sports app & foxsports.com/live
IMG College Sports Network
1400 AM in Lincoln, 590 AM in Omaha, 880 AM in Lexington
Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka
Analyst: Jake Muhleisen
Online Radio: Available on Huskers.com, Huskers App, TuneIn.com/Huskers and TuneIn App.
SiriusXM (internet): 84
The Scarlet Knights enter this one at 13-9 overall and 9-9 in the Big Ten. After COVID-19 cancelled the NCAA tournament last season and their opportunity to do so in 2020, Rutgers is looking to ensure it stays on the correct side of the bubble down the final stretch of games to snap its drought dating back to 1991. Last year’s team went 20-11 while tying for fifth in the Big Ten with an 11-9 record and was a sure lock for an NCAA bid.
This year, RU had a 4-0 nonconference record that included a nice win over Syracuse. The Scarlet Knights went on to open play in January with a 7-1 record overall with their lone loss to Ohio State, but have fallen on tough times since. After dropping five straight games, Rutgers proceeded to win four straight. Over their last five games they’ve gone 3-2 and need to win against either Nebraska or Minnesota, both on the road, to finish the season .500 in conference play and bolster their tourney resume.
Junior guard Ron Harper Jr. leads the team in scoring with 15.7 ppg, which is good for ninth in the league. His 6.0 rpg is also good for second on the team, and he leads RU in three pointers with 38 on the season. Senior guard Jacob Young is second in scoring with 14.2 ppg (17th in B1G), and he leads the team with 3.4 apg (13th in B1G) and 1.7 spg (2nd in B1G).
Senior guard Geo Baker is third in scoring with 10.5 ppg, and he is second on the team with 3.2 apg (14th in B1G) but leads the team in assist/turnover ratio at 2.3 (6th in B1G). Junior forward Myles Johnson leads the team on the glass with 8.5 rpg (4th in B1G).
Rutgers is holding opponents to just 42.8 percent from the field, which is good for seventh in the Big Ten. They aren’t a high scoring team themselves, though, averaging just 68.4 ppg (9th in B1G) while holding opponents to 68.3 ppg (5th in Big Ten). They do lead the league in blocked shots with 5.3 per game.
Tomorrow’s game marks 15th all-time meeting between the programs, with Nebraska holding its only lead over another Big Ten program at 8-6. The programs played just three times prior to becoming conference foes, splitting a home-and-home in 2006 and 2007, while losing by 19-points in a 1999 neutral court matchup. Nebraska holds a 7-4 advantage in league play. RU enters the matchup on a two-game win streak.
Big Ten Tournament Look Ahead
If the regular season ended today, Nebraska would be the 14 seed again this year. However, there is a narrow path for how that could not be the case. As of right now, the Huskers sit at No. 14 and essentially two games behind No. 13 Northwestern. Nebraska won’t finish the season with the same number of games played as they are set for just 19 games to NU’s full 20-game slate, so win percentage also matters here as you will see.
Northwestern has just one game remaining prior to the Huskers visit to end the season on Sunday, March 7. That will be a relatively hot Maryland squad on a five game winning streak. While the game is in Evanston, the Terps will be the favorite. If the Wildcats drop the game, the Huskers need to win just two of their final three games to tie NU.
Given Nebraska’s remaining opponents left are Rutgers, at Iowa, and at Northwestern, the likely two opportunities will be RU and NU. Should Nebraska win tomorrow night and beat Northwestern, that gives the Huskers the head to head win over the Wildcats for the seeding advantage.
Then again, even if Nebraska does not necessarily finish with a win in Evanston, but still somehow beats Iowa (we’re talking hypotheticals here, not probable) then the win percentage will go to Nebraska (21.1) over Northwestern (20.0). That advantage also applies to a win over Northwestern versus Iowa.
However, to do this that requires back-to-back Big Ten wins. This is something the Huskers have not achieved in regular conference season play since wins over Minnesota (62-61 Feb. 13 in Lincoln) and Northwestern (59-50 Feb. 16 in Lincoln) back in the 2018-19 season. For the full record, the Huskers went on to win three straight with a third win at Penn State, 95-71 on Feb. 19 before dropping three straight and closing the regular season with an OT win against Iowa at PBA.
Should the Huskers finish out the season alone in 14th place, they will play the 11-seed who would at this moment be Minnesota. That is likely to change over the coming days as the final games wrap up.
Go Big Red!
By the way, Corn Nation has added one hell of a slate of writers for the upcoming baseball season and there will be plenty of opportunities to discuss the sport in the weeks ahead. Be sure to check them out and talk about the sport over there in the comment threads.