Three takeaways from another Nebraska basketball win, this time over Ohio State.
Have a night, Rienk Mast. In one of the most dominant performances by a Nebraska basketball player in a long time, Mast drilled six 3-pointers on Tuesday night and scored 34 points as the Huskers cruised to an 83-69 win.
It was the 15th win of the season for the Huskers and against another team on the bubble (Ohio State), it was vitally important. Fred Hoiberg’s team is now 15-5 on the season. Nebraska is 5-4 in the Big Ten and the Huskers are trending toward an NCAA tournament berth.
The defense, which hasn’t been great in recent weeks, held the Buckeyes under 70 points. Nebraska won the 3-point battle (14 makes to eight) and turned the ball over just six times. The Huskers also won the battle of the boards.
Here are three takeaways.
Feed the beast
When Nebraska landed Rienk Mast, some people wondered how we do in his transition to the Big Ten. Well, it’s safe to say he’s been more than up to the task.
Tuesday night, Mast was nothing short of spectacular. He dominated offensively, inside and out, and Nebraska continued to feed him the ball. He was 13-of-17 for the night and also made 6-of-8 triples. That was in addition to grabbing 10 rebounds to secure a double-double, as well as four assists.
How about this from @LeftyShamus on Rienk Mast's big night:
Per CBB reference, it is only the 12th time this season in D1 that a player had at least 30 points, 10 rebounds, and shot 75% from the field.
Purdue’s Zach Edey is the only other Big Ten player to do it in 2023-24.
— Robin Washut (@RobinWashut) January 24, 2024
Mast has had a couple of games like that, but to do it against Ohio State, in a game that really mattered for Nebraska was huge and his effort, on both ends of the floor was impressive. It was also the biggest reason why the Huskers won going away.
The ball movement was top-notch
Nebraska basketball made 14 3-pointers in the win on Tuesday, which only happens with really good ball movement, which the Huskers had. That led to 19 assists on 30 field goals. Mast wasn’t the only guy knocking down shots as C.J. Wilcher also went 4-for-6 from downtown on his way to 14 points. As a team, the Huskers made 52 percent from beyond the arc.
That’s some stellar shooting, but a good shot is the result of a good pass, and what the Huskers had going on Tuesday night was a thing of beauty. It’s exactly how this team wants to play offense under Fred Hoiberg and if Nebraska is shooting (and defending like on Tuesday) they are a tough team to beat, especially in Lincoln.
Turning weakness into strength
It was reasonable to assume that Ohio State would be effective on the offensive glass on Tuesday. After all, the Buckeyes were one of the best offensive-rebounding teams in the Big Ten coming in while Nebraska basketball was one of the worst.
Nebraska has allowed nearly 12 offensive rebounds per game. But on Tuesday, they limited Ohio State to just six. That was essential for the Huskers, who also turned the ball over fewer than 10 times for the first time in Big Ten play (8).
It wouldn’t have been shocking at all if Ohio State had outrebounded the Huskers and forced more turnovers. But Nebraska had a 7-6 edge in terms of offensive rebounds, as well as being plus two in turnover margin.
Those were two other reasons this game wasn’t that close. Bruce Thorton got just 16 points, while Jamison Battle had 11. That’s 27 from the Buckeyes’ two best players. Mast got 34 all by himself. That tells you all you need to know about this one. Nebraska was just better. They also looked like an NCAA tournament team.
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