The Nebraska men’s basketball team (6-3) traveled to East Lansing (Mich.) for its first Big Ten matchup of the year, falling 86-57 to No. 3 Michigan State. With just one day of rest, the Huskers will return to Pinnacle Bank Arena to take on the Big Ten’s leading scorer and rebounder, Jordan Murphy and the 14th-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-1). Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. and the game will be televised by BTN.
While the Huskers shot 10-for-22 from the 3-point line in their Big Ten opener, Nebraska shot just 7-of-40 from inside the arc with just eight points in the paint. The Spartans’ frontcourt also dominated the backboards as Michigan State out-rebounded Nebraska 48-34.
For Nebraska, centers Jordy Tshimanga and Duby Okeke combined for a total of four points, four rebounds and nine fouls.
Head coach Tim Miles said on Monday that his centers have to improve if his team wants to win, especially in a physical Big Ten Conference.
While Michigan State is arguably one of the best interior teams in the country, Nebraska will now face the conference’s leading rebounder and scorer in Murphy, along with the nation’s leader in blocked shots in Reggie Lynch (4.8 blocks per game). Lynch is the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Sophomore forward and potential draft prospect Amir Coffey rounds out the frontcourt for the Golden Gophers, averaging 13.4 ppg and 4.4 rpg.
To go along with one of the best frontcourts in the conference, Minnesota’s backcourt is led by senior guard Nate Mason, who averages 15.2 ppg, which is second-best on the team.
“They’re not nearly as deep (as Michigan State), but Jordan Murphy could arguably be the Player of the Week every week in the Big Ten, and what does that tell you? He’s got a chance to be Player of the Year, and that’s with at least three other guys going to the NBA,” Miles said. “And then Reggie Lynch is the nation’s leader in shot blocks. So you just look at those two, and then Amir Coffey is a very good player, Nate Mason is an all-league guard, Dupree Mcbrayer is playing really well, too. They have a lot of talent, especially in that first group.”
The Huskers are led by an all-around attack with four players averaging double figures and Evan Taylor averaging 9.6 ppg. James Palmer Jr. leads all with 14.3 ppg; then Glynn Watson Jr. at 12.9 ppg, Isaac Copeland at 12.0 ppg, and Anton Gill at 10.6 ppg.
Taylor leads the Big Ten Conference in 3-point shooting percentage (75 percent), while Gill ranks 3rd (56 percent).
Nebraska will look to avoid starting conference play 0-2 as the Huskers host Minnesota at Pinnacle Bank Arena at 8 p.m. The game can be watched live on the Big Ten Network or streamed on live radio via the Husker IMG Sports Network.
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