After coming up short against No. 10 Ohio State last weekend, 63-56, Nebraska looks to change its fortune when it hosts Penn State at the Bob Devaney Sports Center Saturday.
The Nittany Lions come to Lincoln with an 8-14 overall record and sit at 0-10 in the Big Ten. And as if their last place standing wasn’t bad enough, Patrick Chamber’s team has also lost 10 games in a row.
However, their opponents haven’t looked all that spectacular this season either. Nebraska (11-12, 2-8) has had a monkey on its back and lately its name is ‘inconsistency.’
Whether it’s been the latest dreadful performance behind the 3-point line (12 out of last 44) or a measly two wins in the conference, the title has hung over Nebraska’s head for some time now.
In their last five games, the Huskers have gone 2-3 against conference opponents, including a season sweep against Ohio State.
Sophomore forward David Rivers said the Huskers’ latest game against a ranked team was tougher to swallow. He said it was hard seeing their effort go for not.
“I’m with these players every day in practice, and I see it,” Rivers said. “It’s just about doing it and getting it done.”
Rivers, who began the game scoring two points in the first half, finished the match as Nebraska’s leading scorer after dropping 13 baskets in the game’s last 20 minutes of play. The sophomore’s effort didn’t go unnoticed by his coach.
“Rivers did not play well the first half, and I thought he was the player of the game the second half,” Miles said.
While down 49-56 with two minutes left in the game, Rivers sunk a pair of layups and foul shots to pull the Huskers within five.
Although the team went on to eventually lose the game by seven points, the defeat did help them learn a few things about themselves, according to Miles.
“I call it a good learning experience to understand the mentality you need to play with every night out,” the coach said.
Although its matchups against Ohio State and Penn State did have different outcomes, the effort displayed by the Huskers in both were very similar.
In its first game against Penn State Jan. 19, the Huskers escaped with a nail-biting win, 68-64. Senior Brandon Ubel drained four free throws down the stretch to help the Huskers leave Pennsylvania with its first conference victory this season.
This time around, it won’t necessarily be who will sink in the most shots, but more so which team will miss the least amount of shots.
Both teams will head into Saturday’s matchup last in the conference with Nebraska shooting 41.5 percent as a team, while Penn State sits dead last, nailing 38.5 percent of their shots from the field.
If the Huskers can play with the same amount of effort they played with last Saturday, plus the poise shown in its first game against PSU, they could see themselves back above .500.
Come tip-off Saturday, the Huskers are going to have come out of the locker room with the energy they left with last Saturday, Miles said.
“If we can capture that lesson, then we can come out and make it happen,” he said.