Photo Credit: Nebraska Athletics Communication

Dominant Second-Half Effort Lifts Nebraska to 82-58 Win Against Arkansas-Pine Bluff

November 20, 2022

Nebraska weathered a storm of Arkansas-Pine Bluff 3s early to pull away in the second half for an 82-58 home win Sunday afternoon.

Nebraska went into the locker room at halftime facing a three-point deficit but outscored the Golden Lions 46-19 in the second half to improve to 3-1.

“I knew this was going to be a tough game that had a lot of firepower, and that certainly showed in the first half,” Coach Fred Hoiberg said. “When they got hot, I thought our rotations were slow, our bottom low man was late getting out of the paint to get hand pressure. Second half, we completely flipped it and I give our guys a lot of credit for coming out and getting chewed out pretty good at halftime and really flipping the script. We were all over the place.” 

The Cornhuskers shot 53.7% from the field including 36.8% from 3 as four players scored in double figures and three more finished with seven apiece. 

Juwan Gary scored a season-high 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting (2-of-5 from 3) with seven rebounds, three steals and two assists. C.J. Wilcher scored 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting (3-of-3 from deep) and 2-of-3 from the line with three assists. 

The Huskers got strong interior production as Blaise Keita produced his first double-double of the season with 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting and 10 rebounds (four offensive) despite scoring just one point in the first half. Wilhelm Breidenbach secured a new career-high, scoring all 10 of his points in the first half while shooting 4-of-5 from the field and 2-of-2 from the line.

“He was huge for us,” Emmanuel Bandoumel said about Keita. “He was huge … It was just being more physical. We asked him to do that. We told him ‘Blaise, you need to control the paint,’ and that’s exactly what he did in the second half, contesting shots,  grabbing rebounds and being physical with it.”

The Golden Lions went 11-for-24 (45.8%) from deep, but Nebraska outscored them 38 to 14 in the paint and 15 to four on second-chance opportunities. The Huskers also turned 18 Pine Bluff turnovers into 25 points on the other end.

“Really pleased with that second half effort, a lot we can take from that, but we’ve got to start playing 40 minutes if we want to have a chance to win and win consistently,” Hoiberg said.

Nebraska’s defensive pressure caused problems early as the Huskers forced six quick turnovers and opened up a 20-8 lead before the second media timeout. Gary had half those points himself with a pair of layups and two 3s for Nebraska’s first two field goals.

Breidenbach got going to help the Huskers hold onto the lead, dropping in a hook shot for his fourth bucket of the game to make it 30-20 Nebraska. 

Pine Bluff caught fire from there, however, and ripped off a 13-3 run to tie the game at 33-all. Wilcher capped a great possession for Nebraska with a catch-and-shoot corner 3 in front of the Pine Bluff bench, but the Golden Lions answered with another 3 and a stop, then hit a 3-pointer as time expired to take a 39-36 lead at halftime.

The Golden Lions hit five 3s in the last six-and-a-half minutes and shot 8-of-12 overall from the arc in the first half. Nebraska shot 50% including 5-of-13 from 3 and outscored the Lions 14-4 in the paint, but the Huskers missed half of their 10 free-throw attempts. 

Gary (12), Wilcher (11) and Breidenbach (10) all scored in double figures in the first half, but the rest of the team shot a combined 1-of-6 and scored three points.

“Basketball, everybody knows it’s a game of runs,” Gary said about the halftime message. “The coaches really emphasized that we just had to cut that off for them. A lot of teams are going to make shots, a lot of teams are going to go on their runs. At the same time, we’ve just got to come as a unit, come together and just cut it off.”

Pine Bluff scored the first five points of the second half including another 3-pointer to stretch its lead to eight at 44-36, but the Huskers settled in from there and dominated play the rest of the way.

Nebraska scored eight straight to tie it up before a Pine Bluff 3, then Nebraska used another 8-0 run to take the lead for good at 52-47. Pine Bluff scored inside to pull within three, but Nebraska outscored the Golden Lions 25-4 over the next nine-and-a-half minutes before Hoiberg pulled his starters.

Redshirt freshman walk-ons Jeffrey Grace III and Sam Hoiberg each scored their first career points on a pair of layups in the last minute to create the final margin.

“It’s good to see those guys get on the board,” Fred Hoiberg said. “Jeff, it was awesome. His first shot I think missed the basket by about 12 feet last game and Sam’s first shot tonight missed the basket, a little wide left. So it’s good to see those guys get in the book. Those guys work as hard as anybody and they help prepare, so it’s good to see that pay off and get a basket.”

Nebraska held Pine Bluff to 19 points on 8-of-25 shooting including 3-of-12 from deep in the second half. Griesel got Keita going, feeding the JUCO transfer for four of his six second-half buckets including three dunks.

“Griesel obviously had a great second half as far as some different things,” Hoiberg said. “We found a nice formula with him on the post and then Blaise was a benefactor of a lot of that. I thought he did a tremendous job spacing the floor, getting lost on the baseline and circling to the front of the rim. He really secured the paint for us on that other end. I thought he was all over the place, three rebounds at half and ended up with 10 and finished around the basket much better in the second half.”

Nebraska will spend its Thanksgiving weekend in Orlando for the ESPN Events Invitational. The Huskers will open tournament play against Oklahoma on Thursday.

  • Never miss the latest news from Hail Varsity!

    Join our free email list by signing up below.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap