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3 takeaways from Nebraska Basketball loss to Illinois



It was a rough night for Nebraska basketball on Tuesday with a blowout loss to Illinois. Here are three takeaways.

Nebraska basketball still has a long way to go in the Big Ten conference and that was apparent on Tuesday night as the Huskers were dominated on their home floor by Illinois, 76-50.

The Fighting Illini looked like the preseason Big Ten favorite they were supposed to be, scoring 1.16 points per possession offense, while holding Nebraska basketball to a measly 0.76. Derrick Walker was held without a field goal in the first half.

Illinois forced Nebraska to turn the ball over on 22 percent of its possessions. The Illini also rebounded 37 percent of their misses and when you do all of that and shoot the ball well, you are going to win.

Nebraska attempted just 14 3-pointers and that’s part of the Illinois defensive plan — force tough 2s and individual plays. The Huskers couldn’t make them and frankly, the game was never competitive.

Here are three takeaways from Nebraska’s 26-point loss.

A sharp dose of reality

This Nebraska basketball team is better than last year. It’s more of a team, but Tuesday was a night when the Huskers could have used a player like Bryce McGowens. The Huskers don’t have anyone who can go get a good shot. Sam Griesel is a solid point guard and can do some nice things in the post but he shot 4-of-11 against Illinois.

Griesel just isn’t a guy you can isolate into a good shot all the time. The ball-screen offense didn’t do much and the Illini suffocated Nebraska. Walker only attempted seven shots all night. Keisei Tominaga and CJ Wilcher attempted just two combined 3-pointers in the loss.

It was a master class of defense from Illinois. The offense was really good too hitting eight triples and grabbing 13 offensive rebounds (losing Juwan Gary hurt). Illinois forced 17 turnovers compared to 10 forced by Nebraska and won the rebounding battle 39-29 making it an all-around butt-kicking and also serving as a reminder that this program still has a long way to go.

Juwan Gary injury will be crucial

Fred Hoiberg didn’t have much of an update on Juwan Gary. The forward didn’t return after suffering some sort of shoulder injury and it was definitely a factor.

Not only is Gary one of Nebraska’s best defenders, but he’s also a quality offensive player and has been a reliable 3-point shooter. He’s also a really good rebounder and has been essential to this defensive identity.

Gary is a bit undersized, yet he’s a perfect four. He can also play the three or even two if needed and is a glue guy for the Huskers. If he’s out for any extended period of time, that will be a killer.

One thing this Nebraska basketball team doesn’t have is depth.

Wilhelm Breidenbach continues to trend up

There weren’t many positives to take away from the Nebraska basketball loss, but one thing that I was encouraged by was the play of Wilhelm Breidenbach.

The former top-100 recruit was limited last season due to injury and started slowly in the 2022-23 season. However, in the last six games, he’s started to find some consistency. Last night, he knocked down two 3-pointers, which was the first time all season he had done that, on his way to 11 points.

It was the third time in the past six games that Breidenbach has reached double figures. He’s averaging just under eight points per game in that stretch, as well as four rebounds. He’s also made five treys in the last six games and has at least one make in four of the last six games.

Not only is it a positive development for this season, because quality minutes will be needed if Gary has to miss any time, but also for the future. Breidenbach needed to develop into a starting-caliber player and over the past few games, he’s started to look like he’s got that ability.

It wouldn’t be shocking if he was in the lineup on Friday at Purdue, and we’ll see if he can continue to build on his recent string of solid play.

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Nebraska Basketball: Guard Denim Dawson enters transfer portal



Nebraska basketball redshirt freshman Denim Dawson entered the transfer portal on Wednesday, as more moves continue to be made within the basketball team. This was first reported by 247Sports’ Travis Branham.

Dawson had his moments for Nebraska basketball this season. He made his first start against Purdue back in December. He had three rebounds and two assists in 25 minutes of play. He then was able to continue his strong play in the second half of the season when he had seven points and eight rebounds in 30 minutes. Dawson was active on the glass against Penn State when he recorded nine rebounds.

It could be said that Dawson never had a fair chance to crack the rotation due to the players in front of him. Nevertheless, Dawson had raw athletic ability, and it was easy to see why he was recruited to the program.

Dawson was a three-star recruit and was the 32nd overall player in the state of California for the 2022 class.

What does this move mean for Nebraska basketball?

This move makes sense for Dawson, as Nebraska basketball has several guards on the roster already. Jamarques Lawrence is one of them, and he was able to take on a big role for the program. This is a case of there being too many mouths to feed on the roster. The emergence of Lawrence also probably played a bit of a role as the latter looks to be a staple for the program.

It will be interesting to see where Dawson ends up. He is certainly a talented player, but Nebraska basketball was not the right fit for him at this time.

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Podcast: What’s next for Nebraska Basketball after missing NIT?



Nebraska basketball
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Our latest podcast discusses whether Nebraska Basketball should have missed the NIT, look at what’s next, and more.

It’s the start of another week, Husker fans, and in terms of the Nebraska basketball team, we got some disappointing news on Sunday night.

Nebraska was on the NIT bubble even before its loss to Minnesota last week in the Big Ten tournament. While some NIT projections had the Huskers barely making it in the field, Nebraska basketball was left on the outside looking in.

Chris Peterson and Danny Jaillet are each on the show in their usual spot and offer up their thoughts on whether Nebraska basketball was treated fairly. The loss to Minnesota was bad, but Nebraska also beat Maryland, Penn State, Creighton, and Iowa (twice) — all teams that made the NCAA tournament.

The Huskers also beat Wisconsin and Rutgers, two teams that made the NIT. The loss to Minnesota was bad but the Huskers had a quality resume. However, their 16-16 record wasn’t all that impressive and again, that’s where the loss to Minnesota hurt.

What’s next for Nebraska basketball?

Now that the season is officially over for the Huskers, we can look toward the future. The biggest question is what will Keisei Tominaga do? Will he return for another season, or go to Japan?

There is hope the Huskers can do some things with NIL, although Keisei is limited to earning “passive income” such as money from jersey sales. He can’t actively promote products. It’s always possible things could change with those NIL rules, but at the end of the day, if money is the driving factor, Japan is probably the best bet.

Tominaga has become a star over there. He’s also a star to Nebraska basketball fans and could have as big a following next season as any Husker — ever.

I’m not saying he would be the best player by any means, but social media didn’t exist when Tyronn Lue was around for instance. It would be fun regardless. Nebraska basketball also needs to add some transfers.

We talk about all that and more. We also touch on Nebraska football recruiting, so check out the full episode of the Husker Big Red Podcast below:

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Nebraska Basketball season ends with defensive thud vs. Gophers



Nebraska basketball lost to the Minnesota Golden Gophers by a 78-75 margin on Wednesday night. There were several crucial plays towards the end of the game. The basketball bouncing off of Sam Griesel while Nebraska tried to score was a difficult break. Two illegal screens in a row also did not help matters. Nevertheless, there was one major theme. The defense struggled throughout the evening.

It wasn’t as if Nebraska had answers for Minnesota either. Minnesota shot 51.9% from the field and 41.7% from beyond the arc.

One of the biggest problems for Nebraska on Wednesday night was being able to stop scores from the inside. Minnesota was able to have their way inside in several aspects. Minnesota freshman Pharrel Payne had six points and four rebounds on the evening. On the other end of the floor, he played solid defensively, shutting down Nebraska big man Derrick Walker.

Jaden Henley and Dawson Garcia had their way inside as well. They finished with 14 and 18 points respectively. They were able to pick apart the Nebraska basketball defense with quick passes and their ability to muscle inside. To be frank, Nebraska basketball had no answer for the inside game, and it became clear that this was going to be a major problem throughout the course of the game.

The defense inside the paint was not the only problem. Nebraska basketball struggled all night in terms of rotations and not getting to the shooter quick enough. They were unable to close out on a player such as Garcia, and he made them pay, going seven-of-13 from the field. He gave Minnesota the lead on a three-ball with 8:35 left in the first half, and the Gophers never looked back.

The aggressive rotations and aggressiveness overall that Nebraska displayed all season defensively was missing. They did not have the defensive energy to match Minnesota and it was noticeable early on. Minnesota was able to play however they wanted offensively, and they were able to establish their dominance inside, opening up space for perimeter shooters. It looked like a cat playing with a mouse.

It was a defensive thud to end the season for Nebraska basketball. Now the offseason begins and questions remain unanswered.

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