(Photo Credit: Huskers.com)
Indiana returns to Bloomington after a rough two games on the road and looks to bounce back from back-to-back losses. Tim Miles brings his Husker squad that has been playing very impressively over the course of the season, exceeding many of the preseason predictions. The Cornhuskers may not be as deep as an injured Indiana team; however, their starting five can truly compete with any in the league, and so far that’s been proven to be true with their 12-4 record on the season.
During Tim Miles’ six year run as head coach, Nebraska has only made the tournament once. However, things look different this year, as Nebraska’s starting five, led by star scorer James Palmer Jr. and big man Isaac Copeland, look to not only make the tournament in March, but also shock doubters this Big Ten season. Kenpom currently predicts a 21-10 overall record, which would be good for an 11-9 finish in the conference.
Meet the Cornhuskers
- Jordy Tshimanga – 6’11” / 268 lbs / Center – Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Transferred to Dayton.
- Evan Taylor – 6’6” / 206 lbs / Guard – Cincinnati, OH..
- Anton Gill – 6’3” / 195 lbs / Guard – Raleigh, NC.
- Duby Okeke – 6’8” / 247 lbs / Center – Jonesboro, GA.
- Jack McVeigh – 6’8” / 215 lbs / Forward – Cabaret Beach, NSW, Australia.
- James Palmer Jr. – 6’6” / 207 lbs / Guard / Senior – Upper Marlboro, MD. He is Nebraska’s best player and leads the team in minutes and points per game.
- Isaac Copeland Jr. – 6’9” / 225 lbs / Forward / Senior – Raleigh, NC. He has the highest field goal percentage among starters and is second in scoring.
- Isaiah Roby – 6’8” / 230 lbs / Forward / Junior – Dixon, IL. Roby plants himself as the man in the middle and team leader in rebounding and blocks (6.6 rebounds/game, 1.7 BPG).
- Glynn Watson Jr. – 6’0” / 180 lbs / Guard / Senior – Bellwood, IL. Watson Jr. leads the starters in free throw and three point percentage as well as assists per game.
- Thomas Allen – 6’1” / 184 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Raleigh, NC. Allen claws as a scrappy defender and currently ranks number one in steals steals per game in conjunction with Palmer Jr.
- Nana Akenten – 6’6” / 218 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Boilingbrook, IL.
- Brady Heiman – 6’11” / 215 lbs / Forward / Freshman – Springfield, NE.
- Tanner Borchardt – 6’6” / 250 lbs / Forward / Senior – Gothenburg, NE.
- Amir Harris – 6’5” / 205 lbs / Guard / Freshman – Frederick, MD.
- Thorir Thorbjarnarson – 6’6” / 206 lbs / Guard / Sophomore – Reykjavik, Iceland.
- Johnny Trueblood – 6’3” / 194 lbs / Guard / Senior – Omaha, NE.
- Justin Costello – 6’1” / 225 lbs / Guard / RS Freshman – Omaha, NE.
Expectations for the Cornhuskers
Kenpom ranks Nebraska 16th overall, 10th in adjusted offense, 55th in adjusted defense, and 27th in strength of schedule. Therefore, it is imperative for the Hoosiers to realize that Nebraska’s 12 wins this year are legit, meaning that this team is NOT a fluke.
Here are some stats Nebraska’s impressive team has produced.
Turnover % (13th): 15.1%
Defensive eFG% (8th): 43.3%
Although Nebraska’s defense limits opponents in effective FG%, they allow tons of offensive rebounds (OR% = 33%). Offensively, they don’t turn it over very often. Additionally, 4 of their 5 starters average between 10 and 19 points per game, so double teaming James Palmer Jr. may not be a good idea. Knowing that IU gets off to slow starts, Nebraska will look for their starters to score early and quickly. We all know what Palmer Jr. is capable of, but his offensive ability can open 3-point shooting from fellow starter Glynn Watson Jr. who shoots above 40% from beyond the arc. IU should try to get Nebraska into foul trouble early, as they don’t use their bench often. Sixth man Nana Akenten averages about 13 minutes less per game than starter Isaiah Roby, who is last among starters in minutes per game at 28.
Defensively, Nebraska allows a lot of offensive rebounds. If Juwan Morgan is in early foul trouble, the Hoosiers may not be able to take advantage of this weakness. One of Nebraska’s defensive strengths is their ability to limit opponents’ effective FG%, so if they rebound, IU may have a tough time.
The Hoosiers are undefeated at home. Additionally, being at home helps with drawing fouls. IU’s game plan should include getting Nebraska’s starters in foul trouble, forcing them to use their bench early.
Rob Phinisee cleared the concussion protocol and logged 17 minutes in the loss at Maryland. He should be good to go against Nebraska.
Race Thompson is still absent due to a concussion.
There is still no timetable for a return for Jerome Hunter, who is still recovering from surgery to treat a leg injury.
Karrington Davis is out for the year with an Achilles injury.
What to Watch for:
- The matchup between Big Ten Player of the Year candidates James Palmer Jr. and Romeo Langford:
Here’s a table depicting a statistical comparison between both dynamic players:
Wow. This will definitely be fun to watch. Furthermore, both players have big man teammates that make significant impacts as well in Isaac Copeland Jr. and Juwan Morgan.
- The fact that it is in Assembly Hall: Both teams’ conference losses have all been on the road. If you’re an IU fan, you can look forward to this. Nebraska has lost all its road conference games this year so far. Palmer Jr. shoots 38.8% from the field on the road.
- The inside game: Nebraska’s Isaac Copeland Jr. faces IU’s Juwan Morgan. Here’s another statistical comparison between the two impressive big men:
Juwan Morgan has the slight edge when comparing both players. However, don’t doubt Copeland Jr.’s ability to make an impact. He is not afraid to shoot the three ball and was crucial in keeping the game against Minnesota on the road close with 17 pts and 7 rebounds. Palmer Jr. shot 3-14 that game.
How to Watch
|Date||Monday, January 11th|
|Time||6:30 PM EST|