Lincoln, NE - Making their first trip to Lincoln in 37 years, the Northwestern Wildcats (13-8, 3-4) look to make it three in a row when they take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-10, 1-6) on Saturday.
At times it has seemed like Nebraska head coach Tim Miles and the Huskers haven't been able to catch a break in the schedule early on in the season – it continues Saturday. The Wildcats are one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten, with two straight top 25 wins over No. 22 Illinois and at home against the No. 14 Minnesota Golden Gophers.
The Huskers are coming off a 20-point loss to Illinois on Tuesday night, in which they were outplayed in all phases of the game.
In his post-game press conference, Miles used the terms ‘worst’ and ‘embarrassing’ to describe his teams rebounding effort. Defense and rebounding hadn’t been a concern all season, but after being outplayed by Illinois, questions continue to arise.
“I’ve coached a lot of games at a lot of different levels, and I don’t think that I’ve ever been this disappointed or embarrassed in one area of the game. You have to credit Illinois," said Miles. "We’d miss a block, give up a rebound and turn it over. It would be the same kid making the same mistakes in a row. That tells you a lot about our mentality and where we were. We weren’t where we needed to be.”
Despite All-Big Ten performer, Drew Crawford, being lost for the season, the Wildcats have been solid at the guard position all year. Senior shooting guard Reggie Hearn tallied 20 points at the win at Illinois, and a 22 performance to lead the Wildcats to the upset win over the Golden Gophers.
Nebraska’s biggest concern at this point is the play of freshman forward Shavon Shields. After a 29-point outburst against the Penn State Nittany Lions, the Illini focused in on the freshman and held him to just two points. Shields also fouled out late in the game.
“I think it was being a freshman,” said Miles. “Now you’ve played pretty good and a hopped up opponent is going to come after you, and I don’t think he responded very well. But he’ll learn from it.”
The Huskers and Wildcats have only faced each other once once since Nebraska joined the Big Ten. Northwestern took control of the game early last winter, despite a 15-point comeback in the second half by the Huskers, eventually falling 84-74.
Nebraska and Northwestern square of Saturday at 2pm CT on Big Ten Network, at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
- Josh Harvey -