Oregon will use Saturday's match-up with Nebraska as a barometer for the team's preparedness entering Pac-12 play.
The Ducks (8-1), namely the freshmen, haven't performed well enough to this point in the season to win conference games, head coach Dana Altman says.
"I don't think they realize how far we have to go," Altman said. "The freshmen don't realize what's ahead of them, the grind of what the conference season is."
Following three easy wins over overmatched opponents, the Cornhuskers will supply much stiffer competition.
The Cornhuskers already have two quality wins, defeating Wake Forest by 16 in their only road game of the season and a 12-point win over USC.
In the USC game, they shot the ball extremely well from three-point range, hitting 11 on only 17 attempts. That, Altman said, will be a defensive priority Saturday.
"They'll come in here with a lot of energy. We'll have to play well. Hopefully our guys will be ready for them," Altman said.
The two teams played a year ago in Lincoln, with two E.J. Singler free throws in the final minute putting the Ducks ahead for good, before winning 83-76. In that game, the Cornhuskers (6-2) were led in large part by guard Dylan Talley and forward Brandon Ubel, who are this year's team's leading scorers. Sharp-shooting Ray Gallegos is the team's third leading scorer.
"They've got a veteran squad," Altman said. "They're bigger and more athletic and have more vets [than last few opponents]."
Nebraska is especially immense in the post, where they start the 6-10 Ubel and senior center Andre Almeida, who stands 6-foot-11 314 pounds. Almeida redshirted the 2011 campaign while recovering from knee surgery, and the Brazilian-native adds a rim defender unlike the team had a year ago, averaging over two blocks per game.
Like every game and practice, Saturday will be another opportunity for team evaluation. As it stands, Altman believes the team has many weaknesses, but also sees a silver lining.
"I like the potential for the team. But potential is another word for ‘You're not very good right now'," he said.
Huskers Bigger, More Veteran
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