Coming soon!

We're taking a short break while we put the finishing touches on a fresh, new way of delivering Nebraska athletics content and stories. Visit soon to experience the next evolution of Huskers sports coverage.
Photo Credit: Nebraska Athletics

Huskers Improve to 2-0 in Spain Behind Eli Rice’s Double-Double

August 02, 2023

While the Ahron Ulis situation garnered headlines off the court, on the court Nebraska improved to 2-0 during its Spanish tour on Wednesday as the Huskers held on to beat the Valencia All-Stars 86-83.

Nebraska led 44-38 at halftime and 75-69 after three quarters before Valencia made a fourth-quarter push. However, the Huskers made enough plays to pull out another close game after doing the same on Monday in game one.

The Huskers struggled a bit offensively, shooting 8-of-24 from 3, 48.9% inside the paint and 12-of-21 at the free-throw line, but Hoiberg was pleased with the team’s process and particularly with the way the Huskers attacked the basket, even if they didn’t always finish.

True freshman Eli Rice led the way for the Huskers with 20 points and 11 rebounds after contributing 12 points and five boards in game one.

“The thing that I was most impressed with Eli tonight was he made some unbelievable toughness and hustle plays,” Hoiberg said. “He had six offensive rebounds. He had a huge play at the end of the game where he got fouled, stepped up, knocked down a free throw to put us up and then hit two more on the ensuing possession after a really good stop. Eleven rebounds is the thing that I’m most pleased with Eli. Obviously 20 points is great, but the 11 rebounds is what I was most impressed with. 

“It’s going to be a process with Eli as it is with all freshmen, but to be over here playing against a lot of physicality, it’s how the game is in Europe, especially in this country. They don’t call a lot of fouls, and I think our guys adjusted to that very well as the game went on. This team had 22 offensive rebounds against Drake last night in a game that they beat Drake, who is a very good team, and tonight we ended up out-rebounding them by 10. I was really pleased with that, to see our guys go out there and make those toughness plays, and Eli was a big part of that.”

After nothing a double-double against the Madrid All-Stars on Monday, veteran C.J. Wilcher put together another strong game on Wednesday as he finished with 19 points and eight rebounds, giving him 37 points and 18 rebounds through two games.

“C.J., another guy that made really good plays for us,” Hoiberg said. “He had a couple of really good looks from 3 that were in and out that could have given him a 24, 25-point game. The thing C.J. has done a really nice job of is attacking the basket. You can tell he’s really worked on his ball-handling in the offseason and just getting to the rim, playing off two feet, going up with strength and then finishing through contact. And again, having a double-double in our game a two nights ago and then going for 19 and eight is a great sign for C.J.”

Brice Williams followed up his 28-point outing with another double-digit performance finishing with 16 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals. 

After pouring in 13 points and nine rebounds on Monday, redshirt freshman walk-on Cale Jacobsen played well again Wednesday, finishing with 12 points and helping the Huskers close out the game once again.

“He continues to make big plays, especially down the stretch for us,” Hoiberg said. “He was 5-for-7, had two great takes to the basket late in the game when the Spanish team was making a run on us. He went right to the basket, jumped right into a chest and had two really high level finishes to keep our lead. He’s just a great kid that understands every position on the floor. And even though he didn’t play in our system a year ago, he has an unbelievable basketball IQ and is a guy that you know is never going to back down. Seven big rebounds for Cale tonight as well and we really played through him at the end, got him the ball in the middle of the floor and ran actions on both sides, and he did a great job attacking the basket.”

Hoiberg said Jacobsen already had a great build when he set foot on campus, but he’s taken it to another level with his year in the program as he was focused on getting even stronger and embracing physicality even more to prepare himself for the Big Ten. Hoiberg said one thing he never has to worry about is the Ashland-Greenwood product’s work ethic.

Jamarques Lawrence chipped in 10 points, four rebounds and four assists while Ramel Lloyd Jr. added six points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Juwan Gary started and played 13 minutes, contributing three points and four rebounds.

After originally saying everyone but Keisei Tominaga, Rienk Mast and Matar Drop would make the trip to Spain, Hoiberg said Blaise Keita experienced an issue with his passport and was not able to travel with the team as a result. He was not slated to play regardless as he continues to recover from ankle surgery.

Nebraska will play its third and final game on Saturday against the Cataluna All-Stars in Barcelona. 

  • Never miss the latest news from Hail Varsity!

    Join our free email list by signing up below.