Hoops Game Day: Nebraska vs. No. 25 Ohio State
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Hoops Game Day: Nebraska vs. No. 25 Ohio State

Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-5, 0-2) at Ohio State Buckeyes (7-2, 2-1)

Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020 - 5:30 p.m.

Value City Arena

TV: BTN

Radio: Husker Sports Network

Internet: FOX Sports App

Nebraska projected starters
NAME HT/WT YEAR NOTES

Dalano Banton

6-9/204

So.

One of only four players nationally averaging at least
14 ppg, 7 rpg and 5 apg.

Trey McGowens

6-4/191

Jr.

Finished with 15 points, four boards and three steals in the loss to No. 19 Michigan.

Teddy Allen

6-6/223

Jr.

Leads the team and ranks sixth in the Big Ten in scoring at 18.2 points per game.

Lat Mayen

6-9/205

Jr.

Has five blocked shots over the last two games, including two in the loss to Michigan.

Yvan Ouedraogo

6-9/245

So.

Averaging 8.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.0 block over the past three games.

Ohio State projected starters
NAME HT/WT YEAR NOTES

CJ Walker

6-1/195

Sr.

Averaging 10.0 points and a team-high 4.6 assists, but is shooting just 32.9 percent from the field.

Duane Washington Jr.

6-3/210

Jr.

Scoring 14.4 points and 2.7 assists while shooting 93 percent from the the free-throw line.

Justice Sueing

6-7/215

Jr.

Averaging 10.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists per game.

E.J. Lidell

6-7/240

So.

Leads team with 15.3 points, 1.3 blocks, and 1.1 steals and ranks second with 6.7 rebounds per game.

Kyle Young

6-8/225

So.

Scoring 7.9 ppg with a team-high 7.0 rpg. Averaged 15.5 points over the past two games.

3 KEYS TO VICTORY

1. Find a way to finish

Nebraska has found multiple ways to lose this season, but the one common theme has been the Huskers' inability to close games out when the game is on the line.

For the first 20-30 minutes, NU has shown it could play with anyone on its schedule thus far. But whether it be prolonged scoring droughts, a rash of turnovers, or defensive lapses, Nebraska has been its own biggest hurdle through the first nine contests.

The best way for the Huskers to address this issue is to find a way to put together a full 40 minutes - or at least close to it - and finish off a game when the pressure is on down the stretch.

Ohio State is 7-2 but has been a mixed bag against high-major competition. After erasing a 16-point deficit in a win over Rutgers, the Buckeyes then missed eight of their final 10 shots to blow a seven-point lead with seven minutes left in a 71-70 loss to Northwestern.

The Huskers have proven they can play with just about any team in the Big Ten for most of the game. But until they can finish the job when it counts, the results thus far will only continue.

2. Play with efficiency

Ohio State doesn't have the gaudy offensive numbers or star power as some teams Nebraska will face this season, but the Buckeyes are a team that rarely beat themselves.

Ranking eighth nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions) at 114.0 and ninth in turnover percentage at 14.1, OSU plays about as clean with the basketball as it gets.

The Huskers, on the other hand, do not. They rank 149th in offensive efficiency (101.6), 231st in effective field goal percentage (47.2), and no better than 206th in two-point, three-point, and free-throw percentage.

Ohio State is fundamentally sound and makes the most out of its opportunities with the ball. Nebraska has had to try and beat teams through a high volume of shots.

Efficiency will be imperative tonight for NU.

3. Get to the line, make your free throws

One relatively easy way Nebraska could give itself a better chance in Big Ten play is by taking advantage of the "free" points at the charity stripe.

That, however, has proven far more difficult for the Huskers than it should be.

Shooting just 64.4 percent as a team, NU ranks 274th nationally in free-throw percentage this season. What's worse, that has come off of 208 attempts, an average of 23 per game.

With 134 makes this year, Nebraska has missed an average of 8.2 free throws per game.

This is another area in which, conversely, Ohio State has thrived. The Buckeyes rank 31st nationally with a team free-throw percentage of 77.1 and 39th with a free-throw rate (FT attempts divided by FG attempts).

Nebraska can't afford to keep leaving points on the floor as it has at the line, but that's especially true in a game like this where free throws could easily be the difference between a win and a loss.

QUOTABLE

“Ultimately, I feel like we’re getting better than we were in the beginning of the season. Obviously, beginning in the season, we got away with it a lot. But teams we’re playing now, we’re not able to get away with what we were getting away with.”
— Junior guard Trey McGowens on Nebraska's recent offensive struggles.

PREDICTION

Ohio State 74, Nebraska 66

Robin's season record: 7-2

vs. the spread: 7-2