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December 14, 2013

Hoops Gameday: Nebraska vs. Arkansas State

Nebraska Cornhuskers

vs. Arkansas State Red Wolves
Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 - 3:00 p.m. CT
TV: Big Ten Network / RADIO: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network

Arkansas State Red Wolves (5-2, 0-0 Sun Belt)
Streak: Won 3
Last Game: Defeated Niagra 86-61
G Ed Townsel (preseason All-Sun Belt Conference selection) Sr. 6-0 171
G Melvin Johnson III (leads nation shooting 64% from 3-point range) Sr. 6-6 168
G Brandon Reed (transfer from Georgia Tech, averaging 9.6 ppg and 3.0 apg) Sr. 6-4 182
F Kendrick Washington (leads team with 6.1 rpg} Sr. 6-7 256
F Kirk Van Slyke (averaging 14.7 ppg and 5.6 rpg) Sr. 6-10 228

Nebraska CornhuskersNebraska Cornhuskers (6-3, 0-0 Big Ten)
Streak: Lost 1
Last Game: Lost to Creighton 82-67
G Tai Webster (has led team in assists past four games) Fr. 6-4 194
G Ray Gallegos (held to just three points against Creighton) So. 6-2 182
G/F Terran Petteway (leads team with 16.3 ppg) So. 6-6 209
F Shavon Shields (led team with 22 points against Creighton) So. 6-7 219
C Walter Pitchford (shooting 41.9% from 3-point range) So. 6-10 234

Defend the perimeter

Considering how Nebraska struggled to contain Creighton's 3-point shooting in last week's loss, it's fairly obvious that defending the perimeter will be the biggest key of all for the Huskers today against Arkansas State. The Red Wolves come into today's matchup as one of the top 3-point shooting team in college basketball, shooting over 38 percent as a team from beyond the arc. Senior guard Melvin Johnson currently stands as the most accurate 3-point shooter in the country, hitting 64.3 percent from downtown and leading ASU with 17.9 points per game.
Attack the rim

Along with the success Creighton had offensively last week, the other most concerning aspect of that loss was the way the Bluejays were able to completely disrupt Nebraska's offense by clogging up the lane and essentially daring the Huskers to take perimeter shots. Nebraska was ice cold on those attempts, and it couldn't find a way to muster any consistent offense until the game was well out of hand. Look for teams to continue to challenge NU with a similar defensive approach, so the Huskers must be far more aggressive with the ball and not settle for low-percentage shots.
Play angry

The loss to Creighton was about as humbling slap to the face as Nebraska could experience, and the Huskers could go one of two ways going forward. They could wallow in the defeat and let it negatively impact their play the next time out, or they could use it as motivation to make sure a game like that doesn't happen again. So far, it appears NU is taking the latter route. Players said earlier this week that the team was much more vocal and practices were as intense as they'd been all year, as the team has been carrying a bit of a chip on its shoulder. The hope is that chip results in an inspired performance today.

Head coach Tim Miles on what went wrong for the Huskers against Creighton:

"We looked like that stunned deer blinded by the lights and just stopped playing and stopped competing, and Creighton just kept punching and punching and punching."
Sophomore forward Shavon Shields on how NU has responded this week in practice:

"We just kind of talked after film, watching the Creighton game, that we need to step up as leaders of the team and just as a team as a whole, be more vocal, talk things out. I think we've done a better job of bringing energy and being more vocal."

Nebraska 76-67

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