HUSKER MEN’S BASKETBALL: Nebraska Overcomes a Slow Start to Handle Penn State

LINCOLN—(KFOR Feb. 17)—Three Huskers in double figures help the Nebraska men’s basketball team overcome a sloppy start to beat Penn State 68-49.


It was the first 11am tip off from Pinnacle Bank Arena of the season and early on it showed form for both teams.  Nebraska was stagnant offensively after a week off as the Nittany Lions took advantage, jumping out to a 4-0 start, even without leading scorer Kanye Clary.


Nebraska (18-8, 8-7) was finally able to get some answers with the ball going through the hoop after about four minutes of gameplay.  A couple of buckets and consecutive stops led to a Reink Mast transition three and Nebraska never gave the lead back.


With the Huskers leading the rest of the way, however, that doesn’t mean it was pretty.  The Huskers shot just 38.7% from the field in the first half, and a mere two of 11 from three.  


The defense held Penn State (12-14, 6-9) in check, allowing the Nittany Lions to shoot just 30.1% from the field and only three players scoring.


“It shows what we are capable of on the defensive end when the ball isn’t going through the hoop,” Head Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “It keeps you in the game…tonight we really grinded out stops.”


In the second half, the Huskers got back to what they have done so well at “The Vault,” scoring the basketball.  Fred Hoiberg’s group jumped out to an 8-3 run and opened up a 12 point lead.


“We did a better job in the paint in the second half, ” Hoiberg said.  “Our shots still didn’t fall, four of 21 from three and winning a game by 19 is a great sign for this team.”


The lead would grow to as many as 22 points with Keisei Tominaga starting to find a groove, scoring 12 of his game high 17 points in the final 20 minutes.  His biggest bucket halted a 9-0 Penn State run stretching the lead back up to 12 and Nebraska never looked back.  


Juwan Gary, another Husker in double figures with 13 points, also had six rebounds and was plus 24 while on the floor further proving his importance to this group.  


“I’ll never lose my edge of who I am, no matter if we’re up 20 or we’re up two,” Gary said. “My team needs to be a dog so that’s what I’m gonna do, crash the glass, get defensive stops, it doesn’t matter who we play.”


Jamarques Lawrence sparked flow for the Huskers as well with multiple transition buckets beating everyone down the floor.  The new sixth man role for Lawrence has seemed to click for the sophomore.  


“I think me coming off of the bench gives the team a great pace, it allows me different guys to start with,” Lawrence said.  “It allows me to go out there and just be me, it feels like I’m in a different flow.”


Some old faces were also in the building to watch the Huskers get a victory, Sam Griesel and Bryce McGowens.  Fred Hoiberg explained how meaningful that is to him and the program.


“To start with Bryce, he could go anywhere in the world on the all star break, I mean that’s a precious, precious time,” Hoiberg said.  “Sam is on a little break…awesome to see a guy I think that really kinda flipped things for us when it comes to culture.”


The Huskers head back out on the road for a mid-week showdown in Bloomington on Wednesday as they go for the sweep of the Indiana Hoosiers.