Explaining The Grades:
I find it quite refreshing that I consider 76 points, 49% from the field and 83% from the free throw line "average" for NU. Granted, a lot of that is the opponent, because I'm quite sure if we had the same numbers against any Big 10 foe, this grade would be close to an "A."
However, Nebraska was never quite "all there" today offensively. There were stretches where they looked quite good, but then there would be periods of time where the Huskers looked rigid, disinterested and slow.
Bo Spencer is our Player of the Game after pouring in 18 points, including many in the last 8 minutes of the game when the score was still somewhat in doubt. That is what good players do and to go along with is 18, he dished out 8 assists, 1 turnover and 6 rebounds.
Toney McCray gets an "honorable mention" in this one for 12 points and 6 rebounds in 24 minutes, along with zero turnovers. McCray hit some key shots in the final ten minutes of the game, as well.
One final thought offensively - NU connected on the aforementioned 83% from the foul line, which is OUTSTANDING. If the Huskers can continue to trend at or above 70% from the line, and it appears that they will, they should pick up 2-3 extra wins this year that they've lost in the last several seasons. Look no further than today for the impact of foul shooting - not saying NU would have lost had they only hit 60%, because they still would have won, but say the Huskers miss four more foul shots and end up around 60% (11-18). They win this game by single figures, or perhaps even less, as SDSU may have played it differently.
Free throws are KEY and its so nice to seeing us hit them.
Again, defense was an "average" performance by the Huskers today, but I also must make the same statement as I did above, about "quality of opponent."
Whereas I didn't feel like SDSU was very good defensively (especially for how underskilled they were down low), I thought they were very good offensively.
Coming into this game, SDSU averaged 35 foul shots per contest, which tells you they are excellent at getting into the lane and attacking the rim. And those stats come against some good teams, including Georgia, Minneosta, etc.
The Huskers held the Jack Rabbits to just 18 free throw attempts, meaning they forced SDSU to get white hot from downtown, which the 'Rabbits did from time to time.
Percentage wise, SDSU shot only 31% from downtown, but it seemed as though all 8 of the trey's they connected on came at big times.
All in all, Nebraska forced the Jack Rabbits to shoot close to 50% from downtown to beat them, which of course they didn't and couldn't.
It was a good defensive game plan, but a number of the shots seemed a little more open than they should have been, so I'm not super impressed with out defense today. Plus, 64 points just seems like a few too many against this team.
Somehow the Jack Rabbits ended up with only 11 offensive rebounds, which is nuts considering I believe they had 6 in the first ten minutes of the game.
We continue to pound this point home each game, that NU MUST do a better job of boxing out on the defensive end.
Granted, when a team hocks up over 30 three's, they're going to have a lot of long misses, but at the same time, you shouldn't be giving up 6 offensive rebounds to start a game with your Top 8 playing the minutes.
For the game, the Huskers did outrebound SDSU quite easily, with a total of 41-33, including 8 boards for Brandon Ubel.
13 assists to 12 turnovers. You'd like to see the assists a bit higher, but 12 turnovers or less is the target for any NCAA Division I basketball coach in any contest, so this was a success.
As mentioned above, Bo Spencer finished with 8 assists to 1 turnover, and Toney McCray played 24 minutes without a single turnover. That is a good sign, as perhaps McCray is starting to catch up with the rest of the team, as far as conditioning and basketball readiness goes.
I thought Nebraska came out with VERY POOR energy in the first 5 minutes.
To Doc's credit, after that first media timeout, the Huskers really came out playing hard, and that seemed to carry over for the majority of the rest of the game, though again, there were some very dull moments.
Doc did a nice job of limiting minutes for his players after a stressful week of three games in six days, and with a VERY important week of basketball coming up (Wake Forest, at Creighton).
Diaz played just 24 minutes, and only two other players played over 30 (Spencer, 32, Ubel, 34).
Also VERY NICE utilization of David Rivers. You need to get that guy going and in rotation prior to the Big 10, and this was a nice way to start. It puts him in position to play spot minutes against WFU and Creighton, and then play a lot from then through the end of nonconference. Rivers responded well, scoring 8 points, pulling down 5 rebounds and turning the ball over only once in 18 minutes. He also committed a couple of cheap fouls in the backcourt that will hopefully get that "out of his system" and teach him to not do it again!
A very average game against a very average low-major opponent. Yes, they may be "the best team in the Summit League," but we may be the 6th place team in the Big 10, so this win is nothing special.
Big week for NU. Assuming the Huskers take care of business against Wake Forest, then in my estimation, they just need to "split" the at Creighton and at TCU games. That puts them into conference at 9-2, and with a 9-9/10-8 finish in the Big 10, plus 1-2 wins in the Big 10 Tournament, would place the Huskers firmly on the NCAA bubble come Selection Sunday.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Bo Spencer
Caleb Walker – 2
Bo Spencer - 1
Brandon Richardson – 1
Jorge Brian Diaz - 1