Nebraska scored a borderline acceptable 63 points (based on the opponent) but how they did it was again not impressive.
The Big Red connected on just 40% from the field (including 35% in the second half) and left thirteen points at the free throw line (20-33). The Huskers also finished only 20% from downtown (3-15).
Once again, way too selfish and some very forced shots.
Even more were some very odd offensive decisions that could easily go under "Ball Handling" but we'll put here.
Number one, the 4 on 1 with Shavon Shields taking the ball the entire way down the floor and getting bailed out by contact. Horrible spacing, yes, so I'm not entirely blaming Shields, but that has got to be like clockwork for this team, not like a Chinese Fire Drill.
Number two, the decision to throw the alley oop pass late in the second half with only a four point lead that resulted in a turnover and one of just two second half timeouts taken by Tim Miles.
A lot of this stuff is honestly just youth and inexperience, but as we keep saying, the free throw shooting has GOT to improve, at the very least, if NU is going to be able to survive this year with its current offensive setup.
I thought Nebraska was good on defense and while Coach Miles said on the post game he thought the interior defense was poor, I didn't see it as that bad.
Overall, the Huskers held Northern Illinois to a solid 58 points on just 37% shooting.
Free throws also go both ways - NIU left nine points at the line (19-28) and while its true that nobody is going to make all of their free throws as a team, NU is lucky they didn't decide to connect on 24-28 or this would cap off a thoroughly bad sports weekend in Nebraska.
BTW, I'll have to go back and check, but I think Nebraska did force a season high 16 turnovers, so props for that.
The two teams shared the exact same rebounding numbers - 12-26-38.
I'm going to go ahead and give Leslee Smith the Player of the Game, even though Deverell Biggs (18 points) certainly could be considered for how he helped carry NU after Shavon Shields fouled out. He was NU's go to guy down the stretch and without him, NU may not have won.
However, I'll argue the same for Smith, who made some big plays early in the game and had a team high nine rebounds to go along with 13 points.
Add in the fact that Smith has become a team leader and I think he deserves the nod in this one.
BALL HANDLING: D-
Early on, Nebraska looked pretty good with the ball in its hands, but the Huskers finished with a season high sixteen turnovers on just ten assists.
Add in the above mentioned poor spacing several times and bad decisions of when to shoot and when to force/slow tempo, and I think the "D-" was well earned.
I know Coach Miles really trusts Shields, I know he didn't expect this to be a 40 minute game and I know that Shields and others need to learn to play with four fouls.
However, why in the world would you bring him back out in a single digit game with 9:00 remaining on the clock? I don't understand that and the decision backfired.
I have noticed a trend on Miles not using timeouts when "the going gets tough" in the second half of games this year, too. NU didn't use its first until after the horrible decision on the aforementioned alley oop.
If you're struggling over and over, and playing with such a young team, why not call time outs more frequently to "instruct" and help ease the team through the growing pains?
I'm not going to be harsh on Miles for his team having some mental errors and coming out flat, however. The team is coming off of a mini break and a long week, playing an early game in front of a less than enthusiastic crowd against lesser competition. Plus, seeing some other Big 10 teams struggle yesterday (most notably Illinois) has me not really being that worried.
OVERALL GRADE: C-
Nebraska played a lower end of average game, just above "poor."
I'm not very concerned, as every Big 10 team has 2-3 games like this out of conference and Northern Illinois isn't awful. Plus, NU won - its not that big of a deal in margin of victory within college hoops unless you win, especially when you're destined for NIT or bust anyways.
I'm fine with today and expect to see a much better effort against Miami on Wednesday night.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Leslee Smith
2013-2013 PLAYER OF THE GAME TOTALS:
TERRAN PETTEWAY - 3
TAI WEBSTER - 2
LESLEE SMITH - 1
SHAVON SHIELDS - 1