LINCOLN, Neb. - After watching the Nebraska Cornhuskers basketball team the previous two seasons, I leaned over to another reporter on Monday night and said it was nice to see the Huskers beat lesser competition like they should. Too many times during my first two years in Lincoln, Nebraska would win a game like tonight by a decent margin, but never blow it open. From the starting tip, there was never a doubt who the better squad was, despite Nebraska clearing their bench. Sure the Huskers made mistakes, but the impressive thing was they were able to overcome those mistakes and still win big, 91-60.
"We have a lot of work to do. We took a lot of quick outside shots. We didn't do some of the things we've practiced hard and well that we're going to need to do better against Division I competition," said Miles. "I thought our defense rotations were a little weak. I thought we turned the ball over unnecessarily too often."
Shavon Shields will be an All-Big Ten player this season. I'm making the somewhat bold prediction after just one game, but Shields looks like he has built on his freshman campaign. He looks stronger, more confident, and ready to lead this squad as a team captain.
The sophomore scored 16 points on Monday night, going 7-for-7 from the field, including a two-handed dunk on the baseline late in the first half – a play he admits he probably wouldn't have been able to make last season.
Pitchford has a green light. He might be 6-foot-10, but Florida transfer Walter Pitchford has a green light anytime he's open according to Miles. Tonight the sophomore shot six three-point attempts, knocking down 50 percent of them. I'm okay with him shooting from the outside, but hope that he also is willing to drive the ball. He's athletic enough to be a problem for quite a few teams in the Big Ten if he puts the ball on the floor.
Tai Webster looked like he had jitters. Getting a start as the Huskers' point guard, the New Zealand freshman sensation had a few turnovers and was hesitant to look for his shot when getting into the lane, but clearly showed he's got the talent to be a starting point guard in the Big Ten.
"I don't think I had a good start, but I got a little more into the flow of the game in the second half," said Webster. "The first half I made too many mistakes both offensively and defensively, but as the game went on I think I got more into it...I wouldn't say I was nervous. I was more excited to be out there. It was a new experience being in front of a college crowd at my first college game."
Webster finished with 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 turnovers.
* The Lopers were paid $15,000 and given 100 tickets by Nebraska to play in the exhibition. UNK co-head coach Tom Kropp said that it was an honor and just wished they would have given Nebraska more for their money.
* Starting guard Ray Gallegos (hip) could have probably played on Monday night, but was held out for precautionary measures. His injury will be reevaluated on Tuesday.
* Probably about 6,500 to 7,000 fans in attendance, a decent number for an exhibition, but clearly not full. The student section was pretty weak.
* Nebraska put five plsuers in double figures while 12 of the 13 players who dressed got into the scoring column.