Hoops Game Day: Nebraska vs. Penn State

Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-15, 1-12) vs Penn State Nittany Lions (4-11, 7-12)

Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 – 7 p.m. CT

Pinnacle Bank Arena

TV: BTN

Radio: Husker Sports Network

Internet: FOX Sports App

1. The starters have to step up

As good as it was to see guys like Thorir Thorbjarnarson, Shamiel Stevenson, and Yvan Ouedraogo all have one of their best performances of the season against Purdue, Nebraska can’t rely on its bench to win games.

The Husker reserves accounted for 37 of their 58 points in the loss to the Boilermakers, and the starting five – which have carried the load most of the year – combined for just 21 on 9-of-27 shooting with seven turnovers.

No starter posted a plus/minus rating higher than -10, and the worst numbers came from key players Lat Mayen (-27), Teddy Allen (-26), and Dalano Banton (-26).

The starters produced 43 of NU’s 62 points in its lone Big Ten win in the first meeting at Penn State, and they’ll need to be just as good if not better to replicate that result tonight.

2. Keep up the 3-point shooting

Nebraska’s offense has been rough the past few outings, but one area that’s made a surprising jump has been its 3-point shooting.

After hitting 11 threes in their second loss at Maryland, the Huskers came back and made nine against Purdue on Saturday.

They averaged nearly nine made 3-pointers at a 38.6-percent clip over the past four games, and that’s at least kept them competitive during that stretch.

Kobe Webster has been a big part of that spike, averaging 2.3 made threes per game at 39.1 shooting from behind the arc over the past four games.

If NU can consistently shoot from the perimeter at that rate, it’s going to have a chance.

3. Be efficient with the ball

When it comes to KenPom.com’s adjusted efficiency ratings (number of points scored or allowed per 100 possessions), Penn State ranks among the country’s best on both ends of the floor.

The Nittany Lions come into tonight ranked 25th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency (113.4) and 56th on defense (95.8). They’re also 51st in turnover percentage (16.5).

While Nebraska posted one of its most efficient offensive performances of the season in its first meeting with Penn State with 19 assists on 27 made baskets, it also committed 16 turnovers that led to 15 PSU points.

The Huskers are at their best when they protect the ball and focus on executing the simple plays. Those factors will be critical to getting another win tonight.

Nebraska (+7.5) 76, Penn State 74

Robin’s season record: 17-3

vs. the spread: 10-10

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