Keys to the Game: South Dakota at Nebraska

Nebraska kicks off their inaugural season in the Big Ten on Friday night, with a non-conference matchup against South Dakota. Come inside as Big Red Report breaks down the keys to a victory. Do you like Husker basketball? You have come to the right place.

New Faces in Starting Lineup

Nebraska will return three full-time starters from last year's starting lineup: Jorge Brian Diaz, Caleb Walker, and Brandon Richardson. With a fourth part-time starter in Brandon Ubel. In contrast, South Dakota features a lineup that contains four returning starters, including the team's leading scorer Charlie Westbrook (16.2 PPG).

Spencer's Much Awaited Debut

After sitting the year out following his transfer from LSU to Nebraska, the 6-foot-6 guard will don the Husker uniform for the first time ever.

At LSU, Spencer averaged 9.3 PPG; however, in his two years as a starter, he averaged 14.5 PPG and 2.7 APG. He even proved to be a threat against top 25 teams, dropping 25 points in games against Kentucky and Tennessee.

If Spencer can build upon his play from his days at LSU, then the Nebraska fans will be in for a real treat, especially considering that Spencer reached double figure scoring totals in nearly half of the 93 games he played in as a Tiger.

Shut Down Westbrook

In last year's contest, the Huskers allowed South Dakota's top scorer to record 24 points. The effort by Westbrook wasn't good enough for a win by South Dakota as Nebraska went on to win 76-68, but he managed to keep his team in the game for all forty minutes.

If he is able to reach the 25 point plateau this time around, the Huskers could be in for a very competitive game, especially in the second half. Now, the Nebraska defense was very good last year, leading the Big 12 with a scoring defense that allowed just 60.5 PPG. They were also seventh nationally with an opponent's field goal percentage of .389.

But it's a new year, so there's no telling what the defense will look like in their first game of the season as they feature a lineup that returns just two starters.

Did You Know?

*Nebraska's nine returning letter winners have combined to make 186 career starts for the Huskers.

*Friday's game is the second-earliest season-opening date in school history. The earliest was the 2007 opener on Nov. 10.

*Last year, the Huskers held 17 of 32 opponents under 60 points, compiling a 15-2 mark in those games.

Phillippi's Player to Watch -- Brandon Ubel

After leading the team with 12 points and 8 rebounds against Doane, Ubel will greatly benefit the Huskers with another solid performance against South Dakota.

- Josh Harvey -

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