basketball Edit

Nebraska Basketball Game Day: Northwestern

WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN

Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-19, 1-14) vs Northwestern Wildcats (12-13, 5-11)

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022 - 7 p.m. CT

Welsh-Ryan Arena

TV: BTN

Radio: Husker Sports Network

Internet: FOX Sports App

Nebraska projected starters
NAME HT/WT YEAR NOTES

Alonzo Verge Jr.

6-3/164

Sr.

Scored 14 points and added 5 rebounds and 5 assists vs. Maryland. He's scored in double figures 18 times this season.

Trey McGowens

6-4/196

Jr.

Held to 2 points on 0-4 shooting with 4 rebounds, 1 assist, and 3 turnovers before fouling out vs. Maryland.

Bryce McGowens

6-7/179

Fr.

Had 25 points vs. Maryland, moving him up to second on NU’s all-time freshmen scoring list at 437 points. He passed Joe McCray (432, 2004-05) and now only trails Dave Hoppen (445, 1982-83) on the list.

Lat Mayen

6-9/217

Jr.

Finished with 8 points while shooting 2-of-3 from behind the arc in the loss to Maryland.

Derrick Walker

6-9/239

Jr.

Posted 6 points and a team-high 6 rebounds - all offensive boards - in NU's loss to Maryland.

Northwestern projected starters
NAME HT/WT YEAR NOTES

Boo Buie

6-2/180

Jr.

Leads team with 15.0 points and 4.5 assists per game. Scored 27 points while shooting 10-for-15 from the field with six 3-pointers in the first meeting vs. Nebraska.

Chase Audige

6-4/200

Jr.

Scored 16 points with 4 rebounds and two steals at Nebraska. Averages 10.5 points and a team-high 1.8 steals per game.

Julian Roper II

6-3/180

Fr.

Averages 3.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per game while shooting just 33% from the field.

Robbie Beran

6-9/215

Jr.

Held scoreless on 0-of-4 shooting (all 3-pointers) but led team with 6 rebounds and 4 steals in the win over Nebraska.

Pete Nance

6-10/225

Sr.

Scoring 14.9 points and leads the team with 6.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. Also shoots 41.3% from 3-point range.

3 KEYS TO VICTORY

1. Defend with effort

Head coach Fred Hoiberg called Nebraska's 87-63 home loss to Northwestern on Feb. 5 one of his team's worst efforts of the season.

While the play offensively was nothing to write home about, what bothered Hoiberg most about that game was how uninspired the Huskers were defensively.

With lazy close-outs on shooters, way-too-late rotations on the perimeter, and half-hearted switches off of screens, NU made life about as easy as possible for the Wildcats.

As a result, Northwestern torched them for 10 made 3-pointers in the first half alone and led by 22 at halftime.

"If you don't give effort, it doesn't matter what your coverage is or what your schemes are. You're not going to have a chance to be successful," Hoiberg said.

2. Protect the basketball

In the first meeting vs. Northwestern, Nebraska's defense was awful, but it certainly didn't help its cause on the other end of the floor, either.

Sloppy passes and ball-handling led to the Wildcats scoring 22 points off 15 NU turnovers.

The Huskers were out-scored 21-7 in points off turnovers last time out against Maryland, and that category has been a glaring issue over their past few ugly losses.

The good news was that Nebraska forced 11 turnovers for 15 points against a Northwestern team that is as good as anyone in protecting the ball. The Wildcats come in ranked sixth nationally in offensive turnovers percentage (13.8) and fourth in offensive steal percentage (6.6).

But if NU continues to give the ball away at its current rate, it will once again dig itself into a steep hole to climb out of tonight.

3. Fight through more illness adversity

Few teams are as versed in dealing with adversity caused by illness as Nebraska has been over the past couple of years, and it will have more of that to work through tonight.

Hoiberg has been dealing with a viral infection since Saturday that hit him hard enough to keep him on bed rest over the past few days.

He insisted that it wasn't anything COVID-related and that he's tested negative every day, but Hoiberg was sick to the point where he did not attend Sunday's practice outside of briefly talking with the players.

Nebraska's assistant coaches ran all of Sunday's practice in his absence. Hoiberg returned to help some during Monday's session, but the assistants ran the show again.

Hoiberg said everyone else on the team was healthy and made it clear that he would be on the bench coaching at Northwestern. However, given his condition, NU will have to make adjustments during the game.

One of Hoiberg's symptoms was losing his voice, and he knows his players won't be able to hear him on the court in a road environment. He said his assistants would handle most of the communication from the bench, and he would also use hand signals to call plays.

Hoiberg said he had to sit out of a game with a similar illness when coaching the Chicago Bulls. But he made it clear the Huskers wouldn't have to worry about that this time around.

"I'm going to coach tomorrow; there's no doubt about that," Hoiberg said.

QUOTABLE

"If you're a competitor, you're going to bounce back and go out and do everything you can to reverse what happened the last time we played. That was a matchup after a bunch of close games, and we did not come out and compete to the level that we needed to to be in a Big Ten game."
— Head coach Fred Hoiberg on Nebraska needing to play with significantly better effort tonight than it did in its home loss to Northwestern.

PREDICTION

Northwestern (-11) 82, Nebraska 70

Robin's season record: 19-7

vs. the spread: 14-12