Andre Almeida (leads the Big Ten with 1.8 blocks per game)
Keep it going
Nebraska had its best overall offensive performance in years in last night's 89-75 win over Central Michigan to kick off the Sun Bowl Invitational, and it couldn't have come at a much better time. The Huskers had been struggling mightily to put points on the board their past three games, and so to post their highest point total since 2009 and have four players score 14 or more was certainly a big relief. Now the trick is to find a way to carry over that hot shooting into tonight's championship game against UTEP and beyond. Consistency has been an issues with this team all year, so it will be interesting to see how they respond to success once again.
Get Rivers involved 2
There might not have been a more pleasant surprise last night than the breakout performance by sophomore guard David Rivers. After coming in averaging 3.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game as the Huskers' sixth man, Rivers exploded for career-bests with 20 points and seven rebounds against Central Michigan. The Huskers have been searching all year for a guy to provide some offensive punch off the bench, and it would be a huge boost to their lineup if Rivers can find a way to make that kind of an impact on a regular basis.
Own the paint
One of the biggest reasons for Nebraska's offensive surge last night was the fact that it was finally able to establish a consistent scoring presence in the paint. In fact, the Huskers out-scored Central Michigan 40-16 in the paint, and only 17 of those points came from big men Brandon Ubel and Andre Almeida. That means their guards were able to drive and create shots, which was something NU hasn't been able to do much all season. The more Nebraska can make teams defend the lane, the more it will open up better shots for guys like Ray Gallegos on the perimeter.
"I'm excited, because it's going to be a really high-quality game. They had a chance to beat UNLV, and then they beat Oregon, who womped us. So it's an exciting match-up for us. We're going to come in here and do our best to compete in a difficult environment. UTEP fans are great. They're a lot of fun. I was here last with CSU and was a part of it, and that's a match-up I look forward to."
Sophomore guard David Rivers on his breakout game versus Central Michigan:
"I was just trying to go out there and make plays and just do whatever it takes for us to get the job done. I just kind of found my shot early and just kept with it, and things started opening up."