Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Huskers Fall to Colorado in Second Exhibition

October 30, 2022

Last season, Nebraska ran Colorado off the floor at Pinnacle Bank Arena in a charity exhibition game. On Sunday, the Buffaloes took round two with a 72-61 win in Boulder.

The Huskers were without senior big man Derrick Walker, who missed the game for “healthcare reasons” according to Coach Fred Hoiberg during his post-game radio interview. Hoiberg said Walker will address his situation “when he’s ready.”

Without Walker, Nebraska struggled on offense for long stretches of the game and shot just 41.3% from the field. Colorado out-scored the Huskers 42-32 in the paint and Nebraska struggled again away from the basket, shooting 24% (6-of-25) from 3 and 3-of-10 from the free-throw line. Nebraska finished with six assists and 12 turnovers. The Buffaloes shot 43.3% from the field with just six 3-pointers themselves, but they were plus-five from the free-throw line.

Emmanuel Bandoumel led Nebraska with 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting (2-of-4 from 3) and 2-of-4 from the free-throw line. Juwan Gary scored in double figures off the bench again with 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting, though he missed both of his 3s and three of his four free throws. Sam Griesel added 10 points on 5-of-11 shooting, five rebounds and three assists.

Blaise Keita started in Walker’s place, though he played just 11 minutes and scored two points with four rebounds. Hoiberg went 11-deep with nine different players scoring.

“We wanted to keep it as basic as possible in the preseason and we’re going to open up the book now, the playbook, and I feel good about where we are,” Hoiberg said. “If we come out and execute I think good things will happen for our team. This was a really good experience for our guys to get a great chance to go on the road against our high-quality opponent, a Power Five team. You fight through adversity and I thought we hung in there despite not shooting well and continued to go out there and battle. I’m proud of the guys.”

It took more than five minutes for the Huskers to get on the board as they missed their first four shots, all contested, and turned the ball over three times. Colorado jumped out to a 10-0 lead. 

Gary finally broke the seal from the free-throw line as he got hit on a corner 3, though he only hit one of the three freebies. Keisei Tominaga checked in and knocked down a pair of 3s from the top of the key to cut the Buffaloes’ lead down to five at 12-7.

The momentum was short-lived, however, as Colorado hit Nebraska with a 14-2 run, turning defense into offense and stretching its lead out to 26-9. 

Griesel provided a spark with a couple of buckets, a fadeaway jumper in the post and a drive down the lane for a dunk, and the Huskers began chipping away at the lead. They held Colorado scoreless for five minutes and used an 11-1 run to pull within five. Redshirt freshman Oleg Kojenets had a couple of buckets inside while true freshman Ramel Lloyd Jr. knocked down a 3-pointer during the run.

Colorado broke out of its scoring slump with a quick 6-0 run to push the lead back to double digits, but Nebraska got a layup from C.J. Wilcher and a pair of free throws from Bandoumel to end the half.

Colorado took a 37-30 lead into halftime. After a hot start by the Buffaloes, Nebraska’s defense settled in and held Colorado to 37.5% from the field. Nebraska shot 40% but the Buffaloes earned an 8-2 advantage in second-chance points with nine offensive rebounds. Eight different Huskers scored, though none of them had more than two buckets. Eighteen of Nebraska’s 30 points came from the bench.

“It’s huge when you have guys who can come off and get it going,” Hoiberg said. “Keisei really was the one that took the lid off, hit those two early ones … Juwan continues to be in attack mode, did a solid job getting to the basket when we needed some points. Denim was, I thought, really good again, had a big impact even though he didn’t take a shot. And I thought our freshmen went out there and battled.”

The Buffaloes settled back into an offensive flow, hitting six of their first nine shots in the second half to stretch the lead back out to 14 at 48-34. Nebraska scored just two buckets in the first five minutes of the half.

Kojenets scored inside then Griesel converted a tough jump hook in the post on back-to-back possessions to pull the Huskers within 10, but Colorado responded with a 10-4 run to stretch it back out to 16.

Nebraska made one last push with another hook from Griesel, a pull-up 3 from Bandoumel and a driving hook from Gary to cut it down to eight at 62-54. The teams traded 3s after that, but Nebraska’s next bucket didn’t come until the 1:12 mark as the Buffaloes held on for the double-digit win.

Colorado shot 51.9% from the field in the second half. Nebraska shot 42.4% from the field and earned just one trip to the foul line, missing both shots.

“We did keep competing,” Hoibeg said. “That first half, after the hot start that they had, they shoot 37.5% in that first half, 43 Overall. This is a team that’s got a lot of high power, very athletic, great size and physicality. This team out-rebounded a very physical Wyoming team by 20 in their in their scrimmage. They had too many, nine in the first half but three in the second, so there are a lot of things that we can take from this moving forward. But there’s plenty of work to do in the next eight days before we play.”

The Huskers will get a full week to prepare for their season-opener against Maine on Nov. 7.

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