Nebraska keeps it going

Coming off a huge win against Minnesota, this was a chance to prove that the losses to mediocre teams before the Gophere were an aberration, rather than an indicator of things to come. Tonight was a chance to do just what everyone expected and take care of business. They did just that and we take a look at the game and see how Nebraska grades out.

Huskers vs. IUPU-Ft. Wayne Mastadons Report Card

Huskers win 63-46!! Box Score

Offense: B

The Huskers started out very sluggish in the first half with a paltry 28 points at the break. Presumably, Nebraska was looking ahead to next week's showdown with in-state rival Creighton and lacked the intensity necessary to be sound in all facets of the offense. 20 turnovers are simply unacceptable from this team and will have to be reduced when the Blue Jays come to Lincoln. On the positive side, John Turek busted out with 18 points and Nate Johnson shot the ball well (4-7 FG) before leaving with an apparent ankle injury.

Best: Turek – 8-11 FG, 2-4 FT for 18 points. John finally finished with some authority and consistency against IPFW.

Worst: Brian Conklin – 0-5 FG, 0-3 3-point. Conk really struggled offensively and has yet to find his groove this season. Runner-up would be Jake Muhleisen who had seven turnovers.

Defense: A-

The Nebraska defense continues to bring a strong game every time out. The Matadors only managed 46 points on 27% shooting including 23% from 3-point range. IPFW went scoreless for the first five minutes of the second half as well. Turek had four blocks and Corey Simms had a monster two-handed block, but may have gotten it after Turek touched it because he was not credited with a block. Either way it was a sweet defensive play from a guy who is used to having his own shots blocked a lot.

Best: Turek – 4 blocks. Played a fine low-post defensive game against the Matadors.

Worst: Drevo – He did rebound well, but he is still slow to react to his man on occasion.

Rebounding: B+

B+? you say after outrebounding IPFW 45-34. Yes a B+ because the Mastadons had 13 offensive rebounds and the Huskers had a hard time boxing out at times. IPFW had some tall players, but Nebraska held a size advantage overall and failed to take full advantage of that fact. That won't fly in the Big 12. It was a very good night, but not great.

Best: Drevo – 15 rebounds with 2 offensives. He didn't score as much this game, but did a very nice job on the boards. Turek chipped in 11 rebounds. Both players had double-doubles.

Worst: The Guards – Nate, Jake, and Corey all had some lapses in boxing out their men which led to some of the 13 offensive boards for IPFW.

Free Throw Shooting: D

Nebraska needs to improve their free-throw shooting quickly or they could be in for some tough losses down the road. They shot 60% (12-20) against IPFW and cannot afford to do that in close games against better competition. When the Mastadons head coach received a technical in the second half, I only had confidence in Drevo, of the five players on the floor, to make both free throws. Barry picked Muhleisen to shoot them and he rattled the first one home and then left the second one short. I know it is just one example, but it could be costly down the road.

Best: Drevo – 2-2 FT. He was the only player not to miss any free throws in this game. Nate Johnson looked better in hitting 3-of-4 from the line.

Worst: Tony Wilbrand – 0-2 FT. "The Alliance Animal" is not expected to make free throws and he did not disappoint. He stepped up and missed two ugly ones. Keep up the energy Tony!!

Overall: B

This was the closest win of the year for Nebraska, which tells you that when they win they win big. The first year D-1 Mastadons gave the Huskers a good first half challenge, but then fell apart in the second half. Barry's Boys were obviously looking ahead to next week (Barry even made a commercial for it) and it showed in their lackluster performance. That said, a win is a win and 4-3 is a lot better than 3-4 would have been. Onward and upward to face the Bluejays.

Up Next: Creighton

Creighton jumped into the polls for the first time in 25 years last week and are undefeated on the year. They are even ranked #1 in the Sagarin rankings as of December 13th. Kyle Korver is their leading scorer, but they have a host of hard-nosed kids that have big game experience. The Bluejays have won the last three meetings in this series and are the favorite to make it a fourth. The Devaney Center will be rocking and it should be a great game. The Husker defense needs to come with its best game and the shooters (I'm looking at you Nate Johnson) need to find their rhythm early like the Minnesota game. I am optimistic that this will happen and Nebraska will have upended their second ranked team of the year. What's that I see at the bottom of the polls? Some Nebraska votes? With a big win it might happen. It won't be big enough, but it will be a win.

Prediction: Nebraska 68 Creighton 67

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