nebraska basketball player kevin cross with the ball during game
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3 Thoughts from Nebraska’s 75-54 Loss to Ohio State

February 27, 2020

Too soon to say Nebraska threatened Ohio State on the hardwood of Pinnacle Bank Arena Thursday night about as much as it has on the gridiron over the last few seasons? Too on the nose? Well, I asked. At least I didn’t just come right out and say it. 

I thought it, though. Had plenty of time to think during Nebraska’s 75-54 loss to Ohio State, the Huskers’ 13th straight loss, 15th loss in conference play and 21st loss of the season. The record is 7-21. 

Here are three of those thoughts. 

Gross Basketball

Ohio State entered Thursday night’s game with a 17-4 record when leading after one half. Nebraska entered the game with a 2-18 record when trailing at the half. Ohio State was up 28-12 pretty much right after the game started. This was one of the first games in a while where the Huskers never really threatened the better team.

Ohio State is now 19-9. Nebraska has lost 13 straight games.

Ohio State has size, being a mountain of a man named Kaleb Wesson. Nebraska does not have size.

So when I tell you this went about how every single person expected it to go, it should come as no surprise. The “Song of the Game” being “Hurt So Good” was too perfect. Watching this group is a labor of love at this point. Watching this particular game was essentially a 40-minute manifestation of the John Wall meme.

It’s not exactly entertaining basketball—Nebraska looked early on like it wasn’t sure what offense was—and Thursday’s game was a double-whammy because it tipped off at 8 p.m. CT on a weeknight.

Credit to the Huskers for continuing to fight, because even though the game wasn’t competitive for long stretches, Nebraska still hasn’t thrown the towel on more than a game or two this year, which is remarkable and a testament to the culture coach Fred Hoiberg has established.

But also credit to the fanbase for continuing to show up. I watched a Final Four-bound Oklahoma basketball team with a National Player of the Year play in front of crowds a quarter the size of the one the first 20-loss basketball team in the history of the Nebraska program played in front of Thursday night. That’s going to be worth something later on down the road.

Shooting

Five times in Fred Hoiberg’s collegiate coaching career has his team hit fewer than four triples in a game. Just five. Tonight’s game marked his 199th game as a college coach.

At no point in his career—counting his NBA tenure here, meaning add another 270 games to the number—has a Fred Hoiberg-coached team failed to hit a single 3-pointer in a game.

That damn near happened against Ohio State. Nebraska started the game 0-for-7 from beyond the arc. It didn’t hit its first triple until the 11:29 mark of the second half.

The Huskers finished 3-for-16 from beyond the arc, easily the worst perimeter shooting night of the season for Nebraska in terms of makes.

Now add to that the fact the Huskers were 15-for-36 at the rim against the Buckeyes.

Ohio State went a stretch in the first half where it missed 10 straight shots from the field, yet led by 14 when the stretch began and led by 14 when the stretch ended. It then went through a similar stretch in the second half—eight of nine shots were misses—which had the same result; Ohio State had a 21-point lead when it began and a 20-point lead when it ended.

That’s incredible in what it says about Nebraska’s ability to get it done at the other end right now. 

Yvan. . . Again

Has anyone turned the narrative of their first Husker season around faster than Yvan Ouedraogo? From people wanting him to not see the floor to where we were Thursday night, the difference has been remarkable.

With less than two minutes on the clock and Nebraska down 19 points heading toward its 21st loss of the year, the freshman starting center was still in the game, still fighting for an offensive rebound and still willing to get on the floor and scrap it up for a loose ball.

Nebraska had the possession arrow, so the ball stayed with the Huskers. Give Ouedraogo, who during the game became the program’s record-holder for rebounds in a freshman year, the game ball.

Can I ask for one thing? If Ouedraogo can work on developing that kick-out pass after catching an entry pass out of the screen-and-roll game, he could become a pretty nice player for Hoiberg. Penetrate and then look for open kick-out 3s is a lot of what Hoiberg wants from his offense, and Ouedraogo doesn’t have to become a Jokic type, he just has to be aware enough when catching that ball while rolling to the basket and drawing the help defender to make the extra pass to a corner. It’s there pretty often.

Given the development he’s shown over the last few months, that might not be too far-fetched an ask. All indications are the young man will keep working regardless of circumstance.

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