Funny how Nebraska actually scored LESS than the other day (73 versus 74) and yet, I have their letter grade much, much higher.
That's because the way Nebraska achieved the points today was MUCH MORE impressive, for a number of reasons:
1. Nebraska shot only four bad shots (by my count) the entire game, versus 10+ against UAB and UMass.
2. Nebraska had a solid ten assists, but that number is very misleading (as in, it seemed like many more). The Huskers did a nice job of sharing and distributing the basketball, and waiting for a good shot.
3. They attacked the rim and as a result, got to the free throw line a lot.
4. They made an AWESOME 82% (22-27) from the line, which was the difference in the game.
And who was a big reason for #4? Our Player of the Game, Tai Webster, who literally took this one over in the final 8:00 of this contest.
Webster finished with 14 points (7-9 at line), 3 assists and ZERO turnovers, with nearly all of that coming in the second half.
Also nice to see Ray Gallegos drop in 11 points (including 3-5 from downtown) and Walter Pitchford (12 points) recover after I called him out last game, including a very nice move in the post in the second half.
Also, Leslee Smith is MUCH BETTER than advertised with the basketball. I am shocked by how soft his hands are and the ability he has to break down other big guys off of the dribble.
I thought Nebraska was on the higher end of "average" throughout this game and certainly much better than the previous two games.
Credit to Coach Miles for switching and mixing some 2-3 zone into the game, as it was quite effective in slowing down UGA.
Nebraska actually played better defensively than the 65 points indicate, as the Bulldogs hit a number of B.S. shots that they don't make most nights.
Still, the Huskers fouled Georgia so much that the 'Dawgs attempted 30 free throws - this is obviously a combo of the games being called differently, but also Nebraska allowing deep penetration far too much of the time.
I thought Terran Petteway played an awfully nice game defensively.
Nebraska actually out boarded Georgia (36 to 35) but allowed fourteen offensive rebounds. That's just too many.
As mentioned above, Smith has been a nice addition to this roster and at least for me, much better than expected. Not only does he have the aforementioned ability to score, but he pulled down a team high 11 rebounds in just 25 minutes (including four offensive). Petteway and Shavon Shields also had nice rebounding games, finishing with 7 and 6, respectively.
BALL HANDLING: A-
10 assists and 7 turnovers were an improvement and as I mentioned above, it really seemed better than that.
I can't get over how well Webster played in this game - SO NICE to see.
For as bad as I thought Miles had his teams prepared for the first two games, it was clear that was the complete opposite today.
1. Team seemed to understand TEAM CONCEPT on offense and eliminated the majority of bad shots and decisions we'd seen throughout first two games of this tournament.
2. Miles mixed defenses and his team actually looked competent at the 2-3 zone.
3. Miles switched up the starting lineup and whether that had anything to do with it or not, Webster responded with his best game as a Husker.
4. Miles did a nice job of mixing and matching combinations to ease us through late first half foul trouble (though the last two minutes were a disaster) and as the game went on, he tightened up the subs to take advantage of effective combos.
5. Miles' team had more life than the first two games and played well in a near "must win game" for my NIT goals.
OVERALL GRADE: A-
I'm really quite pleased with this game. I think Nebraska could be a little better defensively and eliminate just a couple of more bad shots a game, but otherwise, they couldn't play a ton better than today.
They attacked, got to the line, CONVERTED, played average defense and defeated a BCS team in convincing fashion.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: TAI WEBSTER
2013-2014 PLAYER OF THE GAME TOTALS:
Terran Petteway - 3
Tai Webster - 2
Shavon Shields - 1
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