basketball Edit

Hoops Game Day: Nebraska vs. Washington State

WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN

Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-2, 0-0) vs Washington State Cougars (2-2, 0-0)

Monday, Nov. 25, 2019 - 6:30 p.m. CT

John Gray Gymnasium (George Town, Cayman Islands)

TV: None

Radio: Husker Sports Network

Internet: FloHoops

Nebraska projected starters
NAME HT/WT YEAR NOTES

Cam Mack

6-2/175

So.

Finished with 16 points and eight assists in Nebraska's overtime win over Southern.

Dachon Burke

6-4/180

Jr.

Had nine points and three rebounds vs. Southern but was just 1-of-6 from the free-throw line.

Jervay Green

6-3/210

Jr.

Led NU with a career-high 22 points and six assists and was 4-of-6 from 3-point range vs. Southern.

Haanif Cheatham

6-5/195

Sr.

Scored five points and had a team-high seven rebounds in the win over Southern.

Yvan Ouedraogo

6-9/260

Fr.

Posted 11 points and four rebounds while going 5-of-7 from the charity stripe against Southern.

Washington State projected starters
NAME HT/WT YEAR NOTES

Isaac Bonton

6-3/185

Jr.

Averaging 16.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game. Had 18-7-6 in the loss to Omaha.

Jervae Robinson

6-2/185

Sr.

Averages 5.3 points and 1.5 steals per game.

CJ Elleby

6-6/200

So.

Leading scorer at 21.8 ppg who shoots 49% from the field and averages 6.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 2.5 steals per game

Aljaz Kunc

6-8/198

So.

Scoring 8.0 ppg while shooting 40% from 3-point range and leads the team with 7.0 rpg.

Jeff Pollard

6-9/240

Sr.

Averages 9.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.

3 KEYS TO VICTORY

1. Find a way to rebound

You can pretty much put rebounding as a key to about every game on Nebraska's schedule this season, but after a dismal performance on the boards last time out vs. Southern, that area is as important as ever. Against a mediocre rebounding team in the Jaguars, NU was completely dominated on the glass to the tune of a 54-28 disadvantage. Included in that was a lopsided 25-4 discrepancy on the offensive boards that led to a 16-3 edge for Southern in second-chance points. Washington State isn't the biggest team the Huskers will face, but the Cougars are active on the boards and average 13 offensive rebounds per game. If Nebraska can't step up and at least be respectable on the glass, WSU could have a field day with extra possessions.

2. Make a free throw

We knew Nebraska was going to struggle in areas like rebounding and post defense, but no one could have expected that the team would be this bad at the free-throw line. The Huskers are currently shooting an ugly 55.6 percent from the charity stripe on the year, which ranks dead last in the Big Ten and 342nd out of 353 Division I teams. Nebraska scored 93 points in its overtime win over Southern but still managed to miss 18 free throws (19-for-37). The Huskers have actually been really good at drawing fouls and getting to the line, ranking 32nd nationally in offensive free throw rate, per KenPom. But when you miss every other free throw you attempt, that doesn't mean much.

3. Keep Elleby in check

The guy who makes Washington State go this season is sophomore forward CJ Elleby, who has been red hot to start the year and averages 21.8 points per game. Elleby is also one of the Cougars' best rebounders and shoots nearly 36 percent from 3-point range, making him a matchup nightmare for opponents. The early sample size of this season shows that when teams can keep Elleby contained, then Washington State is going to struggle. Santa Clara showed the recipe by getting Elleby into early foul trouble and eventually getting him to foul out in a 70-62 upset. The Broncos flustered him defensively from the start, holding to just 4-of-14 shooting and 1-of-7 from behind the arc. Nebraska needs to follow that formula and make someone else do the heavy lifting for WSU.

QUOTABLE

“I can see it in the huddle that they’re engaged. In the game a couple weeks ago I could see heads down, not pouting, but hunched over shoulders. Tonight, those guys were engaged, and they kept going and kept fighting and kept battling. That’s growth. That’s growth for a group. If we can continue to do that and again, find a way to battle on the boards, and make a free throw here and there, we’re going to have a chance."
— Head coach Fred Hoiberg on the improvements Nebraska has made in handling adversity.

PREDICTION

Nebraska 72, Washington State 71

Robin's 2019-20 record: 2-2

vs. the spread: 0-4