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March 14, 2014

Hoops Gameday: Nebraska vs. Ohio State

Nebraska Cornhuskers

vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
Friday, March 14, 2014 - 1:30 p.m. CT
TV: ESPN / RADIO: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network

Ohio State Buckeyes (23-8, 10-8 Big Ten)
Streak: Won 2
Last Game: Defeated Purdue 63-61
G Aaron Craft (averages team-high 4.6 apg) Sr. 6-2 195
G Lenzelle Smith Jr. (second on team with 11.7 ppg) Sr. 6-4 210
G Shannon Scott (has team-high 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio) Jr. 6-1 185
F LaQuinton Ross (leads team with 14.9 ppg) Sr. 6-8 220
C Amir Williams (averages team-high 5.9 rpg and 1.8 bpg) Jr. 6-11 250

Nebraska CornhuskersNebraska Cornhuskers (19-11, 11-7 Big Ten)
Streak: Won 3
Last Game: Defeated Wisconsin 77-68
G Tai Webster (leads team with 2.0 apg) Fr. 6-4 194
G/F Terran Petteway (named first-team All-Big Ten Conference) So. 6-6 209
F Shavon Shields (named honorable mention All-Big Ten) So. 6-7 219
F David Rivers (averaging 4.6 ppg and 4.4 rpg over last 10 games) Jr. 6-7 198
F Walter Pitchford (had 15 points vs. Wisconsin) So. 6-10 234

Continue to attack

The biggest change in Nebraska's recent winning streak has been its ability to take the ball to the rack when open shots don't come up, which has allowed the Huskers not only to get better looks in the paint, but get to the free throw line to help get the offense going. Sophomore Shavon Shields has been as good as anyone in the conference at not only taking the ball in the lane and drawing contact, but finishing on those plays to convert momentum-changing And-1's. Against an aggressive Ohio State defense today, Nebraska needs to stay tough and not settle for bad perimeter shots.
Control the ball

Along with handling Ohio State's defense, Nebraska has to be as efficient as ever with the basketball in order to not give the Buckeyes any easy scoring opportunities in transition. The Huskers have done a much better job of taking care of the ball over the past month than they did earlier in the year, but against an OSU team led by the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in senior point guard Aaron Craft, NU needs to stay focused and not make careless mistakes. It will be interesting to see who handles the bulk of the point guard duties in the postseason, as Benny Parker has seen the majority of the minutes over Tai Webster the past few games.
Start a new season

As remarkable as Nebraska's turnaround from being 0-4 in the Big Ten to earning a No. 4 seed and a first-round bye in the conference tournament has been, that all is meaningless now that the postseason is officially underway. As Tim Miles put it earlier this week, what it took Michigan all season to accomplish (winning the league's regular-season title), a team can do in a span of just four days with a run through the conference tournament. The Huskers have been much better on the road as of late, but the days of feeding off the home crowd are done for this year moving forward. It's time for NU to step up and show that its late-season rally was no fluke.

Nebraska head coach Tim Miles on his wife's reaction to him winning Big Ten Coach of the Year:

"My wife gave me kind of a, 'Oh, so the Coach of the Year is home, huh?' You know, one of those. She didn't know I had all these incentives, and so now she's thinking new kitchen. Thanks."
Ohio State head coach Thad Matta on how much Nebraska has changed since earlier in the season:

"They're on a roll right now. They are playing great basketball, and obviously Shields and Petteway are doing a good job. They've got guys that can stretch the defense, they're shooting the ball well. I think they're playing as well as anybody in the country right now."

Nebraska 67-62

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