There was a lot left to be desired in Nebraska's 76-54 win over Doane (Neb.) College on Monday night, but the Huskers were able to overcome some bad first game jitters to pick up the win in their exhibition opener.
While Nebraska wound up with a 22-point victory, the Huskers committed 28 turnovers and only led by nine points midway through the second half before finally pulling away.
The 28 turnovers were three more than NU had in any game all of last season.
"I thought our guys obviously looked really, really tired," head coach Doc Sadler said. "I thought our speed was really - we just looked tired out there. I don't think I've ever had a team that's had 28 turnovers in a ball game. I'm not saying that (the Tigers) weren't playing great defense, but it wasn't like it was a pressurized defense that was causing the turnovers. It was extreme carelessness on our behalf.
"As I told the guys after the game, we didn't have to be a good team tonight because it was an exhibition game. The good news is I hope they understand those turnovers have got to be down to 10 or 12, and I think they will understand that."
Junior forward Brandon Ubel and junior newcomer guard Dylan Talley both scored a team-high 12 points in the win, and Ubel also led the way for NU with eight rebounds, a block and a steal.
Jorge Brian Diaz, Brandon Richardson and Bo Spencer all added nine points for NU, as 11 different Huskers scored in the game.
The game didn't got out of hand until midway into the second half, but Nebraska controlled things from the opening tip. After jumping out to a 9-2 lead on a 3-pointer by Richardson, the Huskers eventually built up a 20-point lead going into halftime by scoring twice in the final 36 seconds of the first half to take a 38-18 lead into the locker room.
Ubel was a force in the post, as he lead NU with eight points and five rebounds in the first half, while Spencer followed up with seven points, four assists and three rebounds. The Huskers shot 60 percent from the floor in the first half, but also turned the ball over 12 times.
The second half started out a little rough for Nebraska when Doane came out with a 13-5 run to cut the lead to 41-31 with 15 minutes left to play. Ball security continued to be an issue for the Huskers, as six turnovers in the first six minutes played a big role in the Tigers sticking around.
Doane really started to make things interesting with a little less than 11 minutes to go when forward Andy Morris drilled the Tigers' fourth straight 3-pointer to cut the lead to single digits for the first time since midway through the first half at 52-43.
That would be the end of the Tiger rally, however, as Nebraska went to its size inside to slow things down and get some tough baskets to regain control of the game. The Huskers ended up going on a 12-0 run after Doane cut the lead to nine.
Nebraska shot 52.9 percent from the field in the game, but was only 4-of-15 (26 percent) from 3-point range and 69.2 percent from the free throw line.
While the Huskers' obviously had some serious ball control issues of their own, they were able to force 18 Doane turnovers and hold the Tigers to shoot just 32.3 percent from the floor. Had it not been for eight second half 3-pointers, Doane likely wouldn't have stuck around nearly as long as it did.
"Overall, it's what you'd expect," Sadler said. "Give them credit in most cases. You don't like to admit it, but it's a fact that I think they did play harder than we did. You don't like to admit that, but when I came here five years ago, I wanted to make sure that the school's in Nebraska, there's a lot of Nebraska kids, and I wanted to give them an opportunity to play here."
Nebraska officially opens its season on Friday when it plays host to South Dakota, with tip-off set for 7 p.m.
Around the rim
***Senior center Andre Almeida (knee), senior guard Toney McCray (toe) and junior guard Ray Gallegos all sat out of Monday's game. Almeida hasn't practiced this season while dealing with the prolonged recovery of his surgically repaired knee.
McCray had his toenail removed on Friday, and while he practiced on Saturday and part of Sunday, his toe was sore enough to keep him out of the lineup.
***As for Gallegos, Sadler said it's looking as if he's going to redshirt the 6-foot-2 Salt Lake City native unless injuries made it necessary to use him this season.
"A lot of it depends on our health," Sadler said. "If it stays the way it is right now, then he'll redshirt. But if we lose a guy or two, then it could change."
***Sadler will also have to decide whether to redshirt any of his three true freshmen this season, as the decision has to be made before the first official game of the season. At the moment it looks as if guard Josiah Moore is the most likely candidate to redshirt.
***Monday's game may not have meant more to anyone than Spencer, as it marked his first live action since his junior season at LSU in 2009-10.
"It was so much adrenaline pumping and so much just being happy to be out there floor," Spencer said. "It's been two years since I played. It was just happy."
***Sadler said he was disappointed with Nebraska's 3-point shooting in the game. The Huskers were 2-of-6 from beyond the arc in the first half and 2-of-9 in the second.
"That's something that we need to do a much better job," Sadler said. "We got out-scored 30-12, and as I told the team there, you give up 25 3's and then also allow the ball to get into the lane 31 times, your defense isn't very good. So we've got obviously a lot of things to work on, but so does everybody else."
***Junior center Christopher Niemann had the most productive game of his Husker career in the win, scoring eight points in 12 minutes on the court. It was the most playing time of his injury-plagued career.
"I was very happy with the minutes Christopher Niemann gave us," Sadler said. "It was a little bit more than I thought. I hope he can give us 10-12 minutes, and that's what he gave us, and they were a productive 10-12 minutes. Just the fact that his conditioning allowed him to do that."