Nebraska men’s basketball is headed to Piscataway, New Jersey, for a Big Ten Conference matchup with Rutgers on Wednesday. NU currently holds a 14-8 record with a 5-4 conference record. The Huskers will look to bounce back and try to make a run near the end of conference play after a hard-fought loss to No. 13 Ohio State.
The Huskers suffered a setback on Jan. 22, in the form of a 64-59 loss to the Buckeyes. While Nebraska played solid defense against a quality opponent, the team had a difficult time scoring and relied on a breakout performance from junior guard James Palmer Jr. to stay in the game.
Palmer Jr. scored a career-high 34 points against Ohio State, where he shot 11-18 and cashed in five 3-pointers. He was also named Co-Big Ten Player of the Week, the first Husker to receive that accolade this season.
This is a season of missed opportunities for Rutgers. With a 12-9 record, but also a 2-6 conference mark, The Scarlet Knights need to do something fast to become competitive in the Big Ten as they are currently 12th in the conference. A victory over a solid team like Nebraska could be the catalyst that drives Rutgers toward success in the conference.
The Scarlet Knights will rely on a trio of starters to have success against Nebraska. The guard pair of junior Corey Sanders and freshman Geo Baker, along with senior forward Deshawn Freeman has been a positive aspect of Rutgers’ team this season.
Freeman, Sanders and Baker combine for 37.3 points-per-game and are integral parts of Rutgers’ offense. Freeman has also impressed on defense, amassing 19 blocks on the season. If the Scarlet Knights turn their season around, these three will be a big reason why.
The Huskers, on the other hand need Palmer Jr., who leads all Nebraska players in points-per-game, to generate offense in order to find success against Rutgers. Junior forward Isaac Copeland’s performance will also be a deciding factor in this matchup. Copeland struggled against Ohio State, but is Nebraska’s second most effective scorer, averaging 12.3 points-per-game.
Nebraska has not found success on the road this season, with a 1-6 record away from Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Huskers have lost by significant amounts to good teams on the road, including a 10-point loss at Creighton and a 29-point loss at Michigan State and a 12-point loss at Purdue.
The Scarlet Knights have a 12-5 record at home this season, and they need to use their home court advantage to climb up the Big Ten standings. Currently No. 12, Rutgers need to reach the No. 9 seed to avoid having to partake in a play-in matchup in the Big Ten tournament.
Nebraska finds itself at No. 6 in the Big Ten standings after its loss to Ohio State, and will need this win to stay in the hunt. Looking to chase Indiana, who has a 5-3 conference record, NU can’t afford to lose games to weaker opponents like Rutgers.
Nebraska takes on Rutgers in Piscataway, New Jersey, on Wednesday, Jan. 24. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the game will be aired live on BTN and BTN2Go.