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Hoops Gameday: Nebraska at Mississippi St.

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Associated Press

WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN

Nebraska Cornhuskers (22-10) vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs (22-11)

Wednesday, Mar. 14, 2018 - 8:00 p.m.

Humphrey Coliseum

TV: ESPN2

Radio: Husker Sports Network

Internet: WatchESPN

Nebraska projected starters
NAME HT/WT YEAR NOTES

Glynn Watson

6-0/174

Jr.

Averaged 10.5 points, 3.3 assists, and ranked sixth in the Big Ten with 1.4 steals per game.

Anton Gill

6-3/185

Sr.

Started the final 13 games of the season, led the team and ranked 15th in the Big Ten with 1.8 made 3-pointers per contest.

James Palmer

6-6/210

Jr.

A first-team All-Big Ten pick by the conference coaches, averaged 17.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. Needs four points to crack NU's top-10 season scoring list.

Isaac Copeland

6-9/221

Jr.

Garnered honorable- men on All-Big Ten honors by both the coaches and media, averaged 12.9 points, a team-high 6.2 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game.

Isaiah Roby

6=8/225

So.

One of only five players in school history to record 50 blocks and 50 assists in a season and is the first since Aleks Maric in 2007-08.

Mississippi St. projected starters
NAME HT/WT YEAR NOTES

Quinndary Weatherspoon

6-4/205

Jr.

A second-team All-SEC pick for the second straight year, averages 14.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game and a team-high 49 steals.

Lamar Peters

6-0/185

So.

Averages 10.1 points and a team-high 3.6 assists per game. Led MSU with 22 points in SEC Tournament loss to Tennessee.

Xavian Stapleton

6-6/210

Jr.

Scoring 6.0 points with 2.5 rebounds per game.

Abdul Ado

6-11/250

Fr.

Averaging 7.6 points and ranks second on the team with 6.4 rebounds per game.

Aric Holman

6-10/225

Jr.

Averages 10.5 points, a team-high 6.6 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game.

3 KEYS TO VICTORY

1. Match MSU's athleticism

One of the main advantages Nebraska has held this season is a roster that is much deeper and more athletic than its opponents. That might not be the case tonight vs. a young and dynamic Mississippi State team. While the Bulldogs don't have a single scholarship senior, they have a lineup that can go eight deep. The Huskers jumped all over MSU in their charity game matchup back in October by draining 3-pointers in the first half, but a 23-point lead dwindled down to a one-possession game in the second half once Mississippi State turned up the defensive pressure and started scoring in transition. A lot has changed with both teams over the past five months, and NU should expect a Bulldog squad much closer to the one it saw in the second half than it did the first. It should be noted that MSU will likely be without standout guard Nick Weatherspoon (second on the team with 11.1 ppg), who was injured in the SEC Tournament.

2. Adjust to the new NIT rules

As if dealing with the sting of missing the NCAA Tournament wasn't enough, Nebraska will also have to prepare for some new experimental rule changes being incorporated for the NIT. The biggest alterations will be a move to four 10-minute quarters as opposed to two 20-minute halves, widening the lanes out to 16 feet, extending the 3-point line by 1 foot, eight inches, and having the shot clock reset to 20 seconds after an offensive rebound. The Huskers started practicing with the new rules on Monday and again on Tuesday, and they said they didn't notice any dramatic differences in their fully officiated sessions. Maybe the biggest adjustment was a few more three-second violations. Still, it will be interesting to see how the rule experiments impact things once the actual games get underway.

3. Use anger as motivation

Nebraska head coach Tim Miles and his players didn't hide their frustration over not only being relegated to the NIT, but also being pegged a five-seed despite a school-record regular season. Maybe the biggest key of all for the Huskers tonight is being able to translate that anger into positive motivation and let it fuel a run back to Madison Square Garden. Mississippi State is a young team that is probably much more content with its postseason situation than NU, so the Huskers can't come out still feeling sorry for themselves. If they do, there's good chance they'll get run out of the gym. If Nebraska is ready to play, there's no reason they can't win this game and take the first step to proving all of their doubters wrong.

QUOTABLE

"Contrary to popular belief, I think we’ve had a good season. I think our kids have played well for the most part. I want to get them back on the floor again and get them competitive."
— Head coach Tim Miles on Nebraska making the most of its NIT opportunity.

PREDICTION

Nebraska 75-71

Robin's season record: 25-6

vs. the spread: 18-13