Nebraska basketball got an important win over Michigan on Saturday and here are three takeaways.
Saturday’s game against Michigan was a must-win game for Nebraska basketball and the Huskers played like it, using a 29-3 run in the first half to run away from the Wolverines for the 79-59 win.
The Huskers allowed Michigan to hang around a little in the second half, but Michigan didn’t get closer than 12. Nebraska basketball finished off the impressive performance to improve to 7-7 in the Big Ten and 17-8 overall. They are 7-0 at home in Big Ten home games and have another this next Saturday against Penn State (another must-win).
Keisei Tominaga sparked Nebraska with 19 points and three triples. Josiah Allick also bounced back in a big way and rewarded Fred Hoiberg for keeping him in the starting lineup with 16 points, eight rebounds, and an assist on 7-of-10 shooting.
Nebraska had fewer turnovers than Michigan. They also had more rebounds, plus one more 3-pointer. The defense was stellar holding the Wolverines under 60 and here are three takeaways from a key win by the Huskers.
Under 10 turnovers equals a win
Just like in football, turnovers are an essential statistic in basketball. It’s been the most predictive stat for Nebraska basketball this season and on Saturday, they turned the ball over just eight times. Michigan turned it over 11 and that was a key part of the win.
Michigan did get 17 offensive rebounds compared to 12, but Nebraska won the rebounding battle overall (39-36). Nebraska also had a 3-point edge from beyond the arc (27-24) and shot 39 percent compared to 34 for the Wolverines who shot just 32 percent from the field overall.
If you look back at the Illinois game, Nebraska was under 10 turnovers and if the Huskers value the ball, their offense is good enough to compete with anyone in the Big Ten.
But their defense isn’t good enough to overcome the easy buckets turnovers tend to produce. Nebraska eliminated a lot of that Saturday and it won in lopsided fashion.
Keisei Tominaga came up big
Tominaga is one of Nebraska’s premier players and in games like this, your big-time players need to step up. Tominaga was smart with his shot selection (8-of-14) and was much better at handling the ball. He didn’t have any turnovers (plus two assists), and was better at moving the ball, as well as moving without it.
When Tominaga is scoring like that, this offense is different. So is this team. We saw that against Illinois. Nebraska hasn’t seen that Tominaga quite as often this season, but it feels like he’s getting ready for a stretch run like he had last season, which would be perfect timing for Fred Hoiberg’s crew.
Nebraska looked like an NCAA tournament team
The “eye test” probably doesn’t matter as much when it comes to the NCAA tournament selection committee, but the Huskers looked like a team that belongs in the field of 68.
Nebraska overwhelmed Michigan. Frankly, the Wolverines did well to lose the game by 20. The Huskers weren’t messing around and they weren’t leaving anything for chance.
Good teams don’t play down to their competition. They play well, regardless of the opponent and Nebraska is starting to get there. The game against Northwestern was disappointing. It was also the third quality opponent in six games. Plus, you’re going to have a clunker or two along the way.
With six games to go, Nebraska basketball can’t afford anymore and Saturday’s win was a step in the right direction, although the Huskers still have work to do.
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