Lincoln, NE - It's hard to convince the average Nebraska basketball fan the Huskers' 3-0 start this season is different from past years. Fans have bought in and been disappointed before.
But there is something different about this year's start. They are winning multiple ways. They can go fast, they can slow it down and play great defense, they have a go to scorer, freshman aren't logging major minutes – all things that couldn't be said at times in previous years.
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Don't be fooled...
Yes, Nebraska was playing a 0-2 Rhode Island squad, but this is the same 0-2 team that has scored 90 points a game and was beating Texas in the second half earlier this week. Jamal Wilson came into Lincoln nearly averaging 31 points a game (No.1 in the country), the Huskers held him to 14. "Our whole team takes pride in defense, we have to be ready to step up to the plate and make defensive plays," said Nebraska guard Brandon Richardson.
The patient fast tempo offense…
Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler had hinted towards a fast pace tempo coming into the year, but Husker fans had not seen it yet. They got a glimpse of what it could be like against Rhode Island on Sunday afternoon. What was most impressive about the pace was the Huskers were able play both styles: fast and slow with great defense. They were selective on when they wanted to push the ball and more impressive – if it wasn't there, they didn't force it.
"We don't want to take a quick shot, but coach has really stressed to push the ball," said Nebraska guard Caleb Walker after the game, Walker went 7-of-8 for 17 points. "You might be able to get a good shot from it. You want to push, because you might get a good opportunity to score, but if not, back it out and try to set up something."
Nebraska scored 20 points off fast break points on Sunday afternoon, or about 40% of their total scoring against USC earlier in the week.
"I think it started in practice, we had a great tempo in practice and I think that is what we need," said Richardson, who had a career high eight assits. "It really carried over in the game. Hopefully we can keep this going and make some noise."
* Nebraska jumped out to a fast start and had a 20 point lead at halftime, something that has not been a common trend in Lincoln. "We knew that the score early on didn't matter. They were down big against Texas and came back to take the lead," said Sadler. "For us, it was more of the way we got the lead. We took good shots and we were making them."
• The 24 assists matched the most ever by a Doc Sadler team during his six years at the helm. "Anytime you have those type of assist numbers, you are going to be in a ball game," said Sadler. "That is a credit to the guys looking for the next play."
* Junior college transfer Dylan Talley played 18 minutes tonight and chipped in 15 points. After sitting out all summer, Sadler feels his conditioning is coming along. "The fact of the matter is, Dylan is going to have to get on the court 25 to 30 minutes a game for us, at least. The guy can score some points. He's gotten so much better defensively."
* Nine Huskers broke into the scoring column, including two freshmen.
* Speaking of freshman, Josiah Moore has lost about ten pounds and logged his first minutes of the season tonight. Moore scored three points in four minutes on the floor.
* Bo Spencer set a season high with 23 points, his second straight game of scoring 20 or more points. "He is only going to get better. He made some shots today, but he still needs to get better defensively," said Sadler. "The coaches, the media, the team - they all know he's good. He's just had to sit out for a year, so it's going to take some getting used to."