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Kansas State Basketball: Nebraska Preview

Drew drops in to give us the scoop on Nebraska basketball.

Background: Dec 3, 2023; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Fred Hoiberg reacts after a call during the first half against the Creighton Bluejays at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

University of Nebraska (8-2) - Ken Pom #63

Basic Information

Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

Type of School: Public Land-Grant Research University

Mascot: Herbie Husker

Head Coach - Fred Hoiberg

Seasons at Nebraska: 5

Career Record: 163-141

Regular Season Conference Championships: 0

Conference Tournament Championships: 2 (Iowa State)

NCAA Appearances: 4 (4-4 at Iowa State)

Final 4 Appearances: 0

Kenpom Style of Play

() = National Ranking per Kenpom

Offense

Adj. Efficiency: 114.3 (33)

Avg. Poss. Length: 16 (55)

Defense

Adj. Efficiency: 102.3(55)

Avg. Poss. Length: 19 (355)

Tempo

Adj. Tempo: 68.7 (187)

Kenpom 4 Factors

() = National Ranking per Kenpom

Offense

Effective FG%: 51.8 (123)

Turnover %: 15.2 (55)

Off. Reb. %: 32.4 (99)

FTA/FGA: 38.6 (64)

Defense

Effective FG%: 44.9 (24)

Turnover %: 16.1 (269)

Off. Reb. %: 28.3 (141)

FTA/FGA: 23.4 (19)

Personnel

Nebraska Starters

Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
Point Guard 10 Jamarques Lawrence So. 6'3" 185 NA 26 5.9 4.2 3 0.7 0
Shooting Guard 30 Keisei Tominga Sr. 6'2" 180 NA 25 14 1.9 0.8 0.8 0
Small Forward 4 Juwan Gary Jr. 6'6" 220 Alabama 26 14.7 5.1 1.1 1.6 0.7
Forward 3 Brice Williams Jr. 6'7" 215 Charlotte 26.7 14 4.6 2 0.7 0.7
Center 51 Rienk Mast Jr. 6'10" 250 Bradley 28.6 12.4 9.7 2.3 0.1 0.2

Nebraska Bench

Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
Position Number Player Class Height Weight Previous Team Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks
Guard 1 Sam Hoiberg So. 6'0" 180 16.1 4 2.2 1 0.7 0.2
Guard/Forward 0 CJ Wilcher Jr. 6'5" 215 Xavier 17.3 6.7 1.7 1.1 0.2 0.3
Forward 11 Eli Rice Fr. 6'8" 215 9 4.3 1.3 0.3 0 0.3

Playing Style

Offense

Nebraska aims to push the ball and score early in transition. Their big will run the floor and post deep. It was peculiar to see Michigan State give up half-court transition post-entry passes in their loss to Nebraska, but on several occasions, the Huskers beat them down the floor.

If you stop them from shooting in transition, they run an interesting high post offense around center Rienk Mast. They give the ball to Mast at the top of the key and then have guards curl off him, with Mast making the decisions. Tominga has a hair trigger and only needs an inch of separation to get his shot off. He’s shooting 35% on the season but puts them up in volume. If he gets hot, he can put a 9-point run on you in a hurry.

Juwan Gary is their do-everything wing. He’s their best player in transition, and he pushes the ball whenever he can. In the half-court, they’ll involve him in their curl action at the top of the key; they isolate him on the wing; they post him against smaller players. When he’s assertive, like he was against Michigan State, putting up 20 points on 8-11 shooting, Nebraska is a solid team. They struggle when he plays 31 minutes and only attempts 7 shots, as he did in their loss to Minnesota.

Defense

The defense is solid; they stay in front and make you take contested shots. They don’t turn teams over, but they make teams work the ball longer than they want to score. It’s hard to get easy looks on Nebraska when they’re playing well. However, it’s not difficult to get up threes against a defense that primarily sags off and protects the paint. Creighton hit 14-40 in their win over the Huskers, and then Minnesota followed that up by hitting 8-25 in their win.

If Kansas State wants to make this a game of hitting threes over late contests, they can do that. I’m not sure it’s the best option. I think that’s what Nebraska would prefer to make this game. I don’t think their guards can hold up physically against Kansas State guards off the dribble. The contested threes are going to be available against Nebraska; it’s up to the Wildcats’ guards to make sure something better isn’t available first.

Matchup to Watch

Rienk Mast vs David N’Guessan

Tons of intrigue here, folks. You’ve got Mast, hailing from Goningen, Netherlands, facing off against David N’Guessan, proudly representing De Lier, Netherlands. It’s wild to think that the Netherlands will play a pivotal role in a basketball game between two ag schools in Nebraska and Kansas, and yet here we are.

I thought Mast was the key to Nebraska’s offense against Michigan State. Sparty had no answer for him in the high post. Mast finished the game with 8 points, 6 assists, and 14 rebounds, including 3 offensive boards. I assume they’ll try and replicate what worked the last time out, and it will be up to N’Guessan to keep Mast from getting to where he wants to go on the floor and disrupting some of the dribble handoff and pitch-back stuff they run off of Mast.

Predictions

Prediction

KenPom

Kansas State: 77

Nebraska: 73

Drew

Kansas State: 81

Nebraska: 77

This one turns into a shootout with the Wildcats and Huskers binging on 3-pointers, much like I’m currently binging on eggnog. K-State’s guards eventually wear down Nebraska with drives to the basket, and the good guys prevail.