Nebraska improved to 2-0 on its foreign tour as the Huskers ran away from Lithuanian club Silute BC 83-58 on Wednesday afternoon in Florence.
Unlike the first game, an 87-56 win over Stella Azzurra Basketball Academy on Monday, Nebraska was unable to stream the game. However, we do have some highlights from the Husker digital team over in Italy as well as a recap from Nebraska sports information director Shamus McKnight.
Nebraska trailed midway through the first quarter before the Huskers ripped off a big run. They scored the final eight points of the period to take a 22-14 lead then kept it rolling in the second quarter, building up a 12-point lead before Silute settled in a bit. The Huskers led 39-30 at halftime and 59-48 after tree quarters before blowing the game wide open in the fourth.
After the game, assistant coach Armon Gates joined Ben McLaughlin to discuss the game and that interview was aired on Sports Nightly. Gates said the team got off to a sluggish start — which we saw in the first game as well — but turned it around.
“Since we’re so small, everybody has to engage and rebound, put a body on someone,” Gates said. “Our switching and talking were bad early but that second group that came in at the start of the game kind of ignited us a little bit. We’ve just got to continue to grow. We’re still getting familiar with each other, so It think that’s going to be huge.”
Getting familiar with each other is the primary goal of this trip, and that goes for both players and coaches.
“That’s a huge part of it,” Gates said. “Everyone’s different. Talking to Samari is totally different than talking to Jervay Green. I’m figuring these guys out just how Coach Hoiberg is figuring out what they can do on the court. We’re all figuring each other out; even the players are figuring us out as a stuff, what out thought process is when se sub them out and different things like that. And guess what, it’s a learning process for everyone and I think we’re all doing a great job.”
Once again, all 12 healthy and present Huskers got into the game with 10 of them cracking the scoring column.
Individual point totals: Haanif Cheatham 20, Dachon Burke Jr. 20, Matej Kavas 9, Samari Curtis 8, Shamiel Stevenson 6, Jervay Green 6, Thorir Thorbjarnarson 5, Dalano Banton 4, Charlie Easley 3, Kevin Cross 2.
The Huskers went with a different starting lineup than they used in game one with Samari Curtis, Haanif Cheatham, Shamiel Stevenson, Matej Kavas and even Cross.
However, it was a couple of guys off the bench in Jervay Green and Dalano Banton who delivered the on-court highlight of the trip so far.
— Nebraska Basketball (@HuskerHoops) August 7, 2019
The Huskers knocked down 10 3-pointers in the game, including three by sharp-shooter Kavas who knocked down a pair of triples in the first game as well. Here’s one from today, courtesy of equipment manager Pat Norris.
Burke recorded his second straight double-digit scoring game after putting up 11 points on Monday. He was the one who keyed that initial run in the first quarter with his ability to get to the rim and draw contact. Cheatham came out of the gates on fire, and also teamed up with Burke late to score 11 points in a 15-4 Nebraska run that pushed Nebraska’s lead to 22 in the fourth quarter.
“The first time, it was pretty tough,” Cheatham told McLaughlin after the game. “We hadn’t played in like three days with the long flight. We felt it a little bit but I think we got our legs under us the first game. It showed today that we came out better, came and showed a lot of improvement, defensively and offensively, and we came out with a win. That’s all we care about as a team.”
Conditions in the gym were far from ideal as it was so hot that they left the lights off until shortly before game time, a far cry from the air-conditioned arenas the Huskers are used to playing in.
“It’s a good experience,” Cheatham said. “Any time you go out of the country you get to have different environments, different cultures, and that’s a part of basketball. You’re not always going to have the perfect conditions that we play in in the States. That’s what makes the game great. We have adapted to our environment well. We came out and played hard for 40 minutes and got the W.”
Through two games with his new teammates, Cheatham said he’s learned a lot about the team.
“I learned that we fight hard, and I think we fight hard on the defensive end and we compete on the offensive end,” Cheatham said. “I think that’s what we wanted to show from the beginning and once we show that and show improvement game by game, it’s only going to go up from here.”
The Huskers will continue exploring Florence before returning to the gym to take on Silute BC again on Thursday at 11 a.m. CT.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.