Nebraska looking to bounce back after loss

As bleak as things may have looked last Thursday night after a blowout loss to UAB the Husker men's basketball team still has a chance at very good season. Tonight they look to gain their confidence back as they turn their attention to the Morgan State Bears. This MEAC foe should be just the remedy for a Husker team that had to have their confidence shaken a bit after that loss.

Coming off of a season in which the Bears were a disappointing 11-16 they haven't fared much better this year as they've started the season just 2-4. In those six games they have lost to such schools as Navy, Towson and Robert Morris. Hardly the likes of what Nebraska will face this season in the Big XII. In those losses only one has been single digits, a double overtime loss to Towson in the Guardian Classic in Columbus, Oh., with an average margin of defeat being 13.75 points.

The Bears were, however, able to avenge that double overtime loss nine days later on November 26th at home as they won that contest by a score of 54-51. Their only other victory was also at home in a tightly fought contest in overtime against South Carolina State.

MSU coach Butch Beard definitely knows a thing or two about a winning basketball tradition. Beard during his college days was a standout player for the University of Louisville and played under the legendary coach Bernard "Peck" Hickman as well as John Dromo. Beard was a two time All-American as well a two time All Missouri Valley Conference selection. He is one of only two players to ever average 20+ ppg in two different seasons at UofL and is a member of the Cardinal athletics Hall of Fame. Following his collegiate career Beard was a 1st round selection in the NBA draft and played 9 seasons in the NBA.

Beard has quite a coaching resume as well. Beard began his head coaching career at Howard University in 1990 and was named the MEAC Coach of the Year in 1991-92 in which he lead the Bisons to the NCAA Tournament. After the 93-94 season he was hired as Head Coach of the New Jersey Nets.

Despite the disappointing start to his second season Bears fans are hoping to improve upon last year's 11-16 mark. The MSU roster boasts a nice blend of both contributing young players while being lead by proven veterans.

Senior Sam Brand leads the team in points (18.2), minutes (37.2) and is also the team's best shooter. Brand is currently lighting the nets up with a 39.5 shooting percentage from three point land. He is certainly taking advantage of that accuracy from three point land as 50% of his attempts from the field are from beyond the arc. Brand is also getting the job done at the free throw line at 81.8%. Not only is he shooting that high percentage but he's also second on the team in attempts at the line.

Unfortunately for the Bears the rest of the squad hasn't been as potent when shooting the basketball. The rest of the team shoots just 29% from the three, 43% overall from the field, and a paltry 54% from the charity stripe.

The key to the game will be if the Huskers can contain Brand and also to maximize their considerable size advantage.

MSU only has a couple of players at 6'8" then they get smaller from there. This is very evident in the fact that they have only recorded nine blocks in the six games played. To get a comparison on the difference, Nebraska has swatted 12 shots in exactly half the number of games played. To further illustrate the point, Morgan State has grabbed 175 rebounds on the season in those six games. In just three games the Huskers have been able to notch 155 in their stat total.

In order for NU to take care of business, as they should, tonight they need to maximize that difference in size. That means allowing Maric, Turek and the other big men to get the ball in the paint from time to time. This will not only allow those players to exploit the smaller, less talented defenders but also will free up the three point attack from the shooters. In turn when the shooters find themselves open the big men need to take advantage and be sure to out-rebound this Morgan State team.

Games like this one tonight are always important for three reasons. One, they allow you to regain your confidence after a loss. Two, they allow you to experiment with different lineups if you can get a comfortable lead and also to play some of the players deeper on the bench. Lastly, while they certainly don't help your RPI much by winning them they certainly will kill it if you lose. Thus this Cornhusker must be sure to keep their focus and take care of the task at hand.

Game time: 7:05 PM CST

Tickets: available through the ticket office at 402-472-3111 or 800-8-big red.

TV: None

Radio: 1140AM in Lincoln as well as 1100AM in Omaha.

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