Head Coach: Todd Simon
Location: Cedar City, Utah (Southwest part of the state)
Conference: Big Sky
Shirt not to wear: Bird
Defensive Style: Speed you up into a bad shot
Offensive Style: Love the rim
Line: Nebraska by 7.5
Players to watch: Cameron Oluyitan
The 6'7" wing led the T-Birds in scoring last and has been noted as a lock-down defender. If the Huskers have someone get hot from the floor expect Oluyitan to be rotated there.
Players to watch: Dwayne Morgan
Morgan is a UNLV transfer and former 5 star that due to injury is back for a 6th season. Two years ago he was a double digit scorer and Southern Utah's leading rebounder. Morgan hasn't quite ever lived up to the hype as the scoring is definitely volume based.
Hoiberg mentioned Cross when talking about the 3pt shooting struggles against UC Riverside. State they recruited Cross because he had that skill set and he was getting good looks, but they just weren't falling in. It's certainly a very different team we're watching as it's tough to imagine Cross even seeing the floor much under Miles or Sadler, much less getting the green light to fire away.
The Skinny: Todd Simon can recruit and that's exactly why Southern Utah hired the young coach. Simon got his start under Lon Kruger at UNLV and then spent a number of years at now defunct prep school/basketball factory Findley Prep before parlaying the relationships built there back into the associate head coach job at UNLV, this time under Dave Rose. After Rose was let go mid-season, Simon served as the interim head coach. While UNLV was so-so in the win-loss department they had plenty of talent and Simon was a big part of that. Currently Southern Utah has arguably the best talent in the Big Sky as Simon has stockpiled transfers from UNLV (Morgan), Arizona St (Andre Adams), Iowa St (Jakolby Long), Boise St (Oluyitan), Illinois St (Daouda Ndiaye) and Utah St (John Knight). That's 6 transfers if you're counting at home...the same number as the Huskers.
Simon certainly brings the Runnin' part of the Runnin' Rebels to this team though it's his own spin. The Thunderbirds want to play fast on both ends of the court with a focus on defense. You might assume that they're trying to force turnovers but it's more about speeding you up into taking bad shots to set up their transition offense. You also might assume that Nebraska wants to play fast anyway but if the Huskers are quickly missing a lot of shots that's absolutely what Southern Utah wants. Offensively the Thunderbirds will try and drive everything to the rim. They've made up for their fairly poor half court offense with transitions points plus getting to the FT line. A fully functional Sadler defense would probably throttle this team but if Tuesday is any indication we are far from functional.
Adding to the uncertainty in how this game will unfold is that both teams are plenty capable of drawing contact so this could be a game decided at the FT line. It seems like S. Utah has some foul prone interior players. Does Nebraska have the patience to attack this?
This early afternoon game was a trap waiting to happen had Nebraska won easily on Tuesday. How do they respond today?
Prediction: Nebraska 82 - Southern Utah 76