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Kansas vs Nebraska: Previewing The Huskers

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For one final time the Jayhawks welcome the Corn from Nebraska into Allen Fieldhouse where the Jayhawks have had a great deal of success over the years. Let's be honest, Nebraska is a football school and outside of the occasional Eric Piatowski, Erick Strickland, Tyron Lue or Cookie Belcher there isn't much longstanding history to speak of. 

Even so, just like almost every team in the Big 12, the Huskers give Kansas their best shot every year and with that there always is the chance of an upset. 

The interesting thing with this one might be the overall fan sentiment.  Normally the Nebraska game is a ho-hum occurrence.  This year the animosity toward the team that is leaving for the Big 10 might just fuel a little extra energy and hopefully that translates to the court in the teams play.

Rankings:

AP Poll
NR
RPI
#81
SOS
#254
SOS Projected
#66

The Players

First and foremost Doc Sadler is a coach that believes in hard nosed defense.  He forces and ugly style of basketball and when you start talking about impact players, the numbers reflect that.  It's not a flashy style, but it's Nebraska's style and it has put a scare in more than a few teams in recent years.

Leading the Husker 10 man rotation in both scoring and minute played are a pair of players that Kansas fans will remember from a year ago.  The first is 6'11" sophomore center Jorge Diaz.  Diaz hails from Puerto Rico and leads the Corn in scoring with 10.4 per game.  Diaz is efficient shooting nearly 58% from the field, and he also contributes 4.7 boards per game which ranks 3rd among the Husker starters.

In the backcourt the Huskers are led by a big physical guard in 6'3" 225 pound Lance Jeter.  Jeter is a senior averaging 10 points per game and leads the Huskers in three point field goals, assists and steals. Jeter and Diaz are two key matchups for the Jayhawks on Saturday and limiting their impact could help Kansas get a comfortable win at home.

Joining Jeter in the backcourt is junior guard Caleb Walker.  Walker is a 6'4" Kansas native claiming Hutchinson as home.  Like the Cyclones, the Huskers are led in the rebounding column by a guard and Walker is that player.  Walkers 4.8 boards per game were second on the team prior to the departure of Christian Standhardinger who's departure from the program early in the season provided a blow to the Huskers in almost every phase of the game.

Next up on the list is another Kansas native, 6'8" forward Brandon Ubel out of Overland Park.  Ubel has seen his playing time increase with Standhardinger's departure but he's still a role player averaging just 6.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. Still, Ubel is fairly efficient from the floor at better than 53% and he has shown the ability to provide double digit scoring on occasion.

Rounding out the starters is senior guard Drake Beranek who actually ranks 8th on the team in terms of minutes per game. 

The group off the bench includes junior center Andre Almeida who leads the team in blocked shots and will provide a monster body on the interior as the 6'11" Brazilian player weighs in at 315.

Brandon Richardson, Eshaunte Jones and Ray Gallegos are the three guards off the bench and combine for a total of 14 points per contest.

 


Trending Huskers

Before losing to Missouri on Wednesday, Nebraska hadn't lost a game since mid November when the dropped two in a row vs. Arkansas Pine Bluff and Vanderbilt.  Since that time their wins include USC and the Iowa State Cyclones in dramatic fashion.  It's not overly impressive but Doc Sadler once again has one of the best defenses in the country coming out of non conference play. 

The problem is that once they get into conference play, the offenses get better and theirs does not.  The funny thing right now is that the Huskers actually rank higher overall than Kansas State and Colorado, two games that likely put more fear into Jayhawk fans mind at the current time. 

For Nebraska to truly turn the corner they'll have to carry the success and efficiency on the defensive end into conference play.  Through two games they've been so-so at that.  It might not quite be time for Doc Sadler in the Big 12, but he does have his team in a position to fit in well with Big 10 basketball.

Offensive Averages:

Points
69.2
179th / 11th
Assists
13.5
148th / 10th
Rebounds
38.2
59th / 7th
FG Pct
48.3
22nd / 3rd

Defensive Averages:

Points
55.0
3rd / 11th
Assists
9.5
10th / 10th
Rebounds
32.3
66th / 7th
FG Pct
34.5
1st / 3rd

 

Prediction Time

It's Nebraska and it's in Allen Fieldhouse.  It's easier to get worried about road games because it seems every team elevates their play in those situations, but in Lawrence a team like Nebraska could end up getting run off the floor in the first 20 minutes.

Doc Sadler will try to make it ugly but while the Huskers boast a solid defense, so do the Jayhawks. At the end of the day the fact that Kansas has a competitive offense to go along with that is going to be too much for the Corn to overcome in Lawrence.  Throw in the fact that this is a parting shot for Kansas and their fans and it should be a game the Jayhawks win fairly easily.  Of course, that's not exactly the Jayhawk calling card this year.