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February 20, 2014

Hoops Gameday: Nebraska vs. Penn State

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Nebraska Cornhuskers

vs. Penn State Nittany Lions
Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014 - 6 p.m. CT
TV: ESPNU / RADIO: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network

Penn State Nittany Lions (13-13, 4-9 Big Ten)
Streak: Lost 1
Last Game: Lost to Iowa 82-70
G Tim Fraizer (averaging 15.9 ppg and Big Ten-high 5.9 apg) Sr. 6-1 170
G D.J. Newbill (leads team with 17.4 ppg) Jr. 6-4 205
G Graham Woodward (true freshman averaging 3.0 ppg) Fr. 6-0 170
F Brandon Taylor (scoring 9.7 ppg with 4.5 rpg) Jr. 6-6 225
F Donovon Jack (averaging 7.1 ppg and 3.9 rpg) So. 6-7 235

Nebraska CornhuskersNebraska Cornhuskers (14-10, 6-6 Big Ten)
Streak: Won 3
Last Game: Defeated Michigan State 60-51
G Tai Webster (played just 12 minutes vs. Michigan State) Fr. 6-4 194
G/F Terran Petteway (had game-high 23 points in upset of No. 9 Spartans) So. 6-6 209
F Shavon Shields (averaging 11.8 ppg and 5.4 rpg this season) So. 6-7 219
F David Rivers (starting second game in a row) Jr. 6-7 198
F Walter Pitchford (tied career-high with 18 points vs. MSU) So. 6-10 234

Offensive efficiency

When you look over the box score of Nebraska's loss at Penn State back on Jan. 23, two stats stick out like a sore thumb as to the what all went wrong for the Huskers. The first were turnovers, as NU coughed the ball up 14 times to just five by the Nittany Lions, which resulted in a 22-1 disparity in points off turnovers. The other were the points in the paint, where PSU dominated Nebraska inside with a 30-10 advantage. The Huskers have to take better care of the ball and find ways to create easier shots if they're going to keep their recent hot streak going.
Use the revenge factor

Maybe the best thing to happen for a Nebraska team that's riding high having won five of its past six games is having to face a Penn State team that handed it one of its most frustrating losses of the season less than a month ago. While it's always difficult to play the same opponent twice, the Huskers should have plenty of motivation to atone for a defeat in which they in all respects should have won had they not fallen apart mentally in the final 1:09 of the game. The crowd at Pinnacle Bank Arena tonight should be as large and loud as it's been all season, and I expect NU to locked in and ready to roll when the ball is finally tipped off.
Make it a must-win

As the talk of a potential NCAA Tournament berth continues to heat up with every Big Ten win Nebraska adds to its resume, head coach Tim Miles has done all he can to keep his team focused on taking the rest of the season one game at a time. While he may not admit it, the Huskers are essentially in a must-win situation the rest of the way in order to accomplish their postseason goals, and that starts tonight against Penn State. Nebraska cannot afford to slip up in a game it realistically should win, so staying focused and executing the way it has been will be absolutely crucial to keep the momentum going.

Nebraska head coach Tim Miles on how the Huskers are handling the recent surge of national attention this week:

"We coined the phrase, 'Avoid the Noise', so we'll keep that going with them. I thought we had a pretty good practice yesterday and hopefully good one today and then good performance tomorrow and find a way to beat Penn State."
Miles on learning to accept Nebraska's offensive deficiencies this season:

"I'm convinced I'm just not going to be satisfied with our offense this year."

Nebraska 71-60

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