Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Despite Changes, Nebraska Reverts to Old Habits in Loss to Kansas State

December 19, 2021

The Nebraska men’s basketball team dropped its fifth game in a row on Sunday in a 67-58 loss to old Big 12 foe Kansas State. The loss came despite changes coach Fred Hoiberg and the Huskers made leading up to the game, changes that were meant to give Nebraska better control on a play-to-play basis and set its players up to play to their strengths.

The changes seemed to work—especially on offense—for the first 11 minutes of Sunday’s matchup with the Wildcats. The Huskers led Kansas State 25-15 following a CJ Wilcher 3-pointer that forced a Wildcat timeout. At that point, Nebraska was 5-of-10 from the 3-point line and things were looking up.

Until things took a turn for the worse and the changes appeared to evaporate. As quickly as Nebraska had taken the lead, the Huskers then gave up an 18-2 run, heading into halftime trailing 33-27.

Nebraska tried to come back in the second half—and the team certainly had its moments—but it’s tough to overcome 5-for-28 (18%) from the 3-point line. The Huskers missed 18 consecutive 3-pointers after making five of their first 10 in the game. Nebraska has now shot 20% or worse from 3-point range four times this season.

Kansas State wasn’t exactly stellar on offense either—the Wildcats only shot 39% from the field—but it was enough to overcome Nebraska. The Huskers shot 32.8% and couldn’t seem to find any consistent rhythm on offense after those first 11 minutes of the game. It also didn’t help that turnovers plagued the Huskers against the Wildcats, as well as offensive rebounding.

“When we got out of rhythm and they went on a run on us, you know, our possessions were not crisp and I think we finished off those last seven or eight minutes 1-for-10 with five turnovers,” Hoiberg said. “Turnovers are killing us right now and you look at the last three games and I think it’s 19, 20 and then 17 tonight. We turned them over more, forced them into 19 and they double us up on the points off turnovers unfortunately, so that’s hurting us and then the 15 second chance points, basically even on the offensive glass.

“Effort was there, no doubt about it. We competed but we just didn’t continue on with what made us successful in both halves. I thought we had great starts to both halves.”

Nebraska did show some life toward the end of the game. The Huskers had the game within four following a 14-3 run, trailing 59-55. With about two minutes left to play, the Huskers had an opportunity but ultimately squandered it. Another poor shot resulted in a Kansas State possessionl that turned into a 3-pointer from Mark Smith. At that point, it pretty much sealed the deal for the Huskers.

Alonzo Verge Jr. ended the game with 21 points, his fourth game of the season and 16th of his career surpassing the 20-point mark, as well as five rebounds, five assists, and five turnovers for Nebraska. He was 7-of-14 from the field.

Bryce McGowens was Nebraska’s only other player to reach double figures on the night. He scored 15 points while going just 4-of-14 from the floor.

“I knew there were going to be some growing pains through this,” Hoiberg said. “We’ve got another week after this next week to work on some of the nuances of what we are looking at, but overall again, it just goes back to what made us successful early. You have to continue on with that and continue with those type of possessions and we didn’t do a good enough job tonight.”

Nebraska will be home once again on Wednesday to face Kennesaw State. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPNU.

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