Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-1) vs South Dakota Coyotes (0-2)
Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020 – 8 p.m. CT
Pinnacle Bank Arena
Radio: Husker Sports Network
Internet: FOX Sports App
1. Apply the pressure
Nebraska has been at its best so far this season when it’s turned up the defensive intensity.
The Huskers currently stand as one of the most opportunistic defenses in the country, ranking 10th nationally in turnovers forced (21.7) per game.
Much of that is due to how aggressive NU has been on opposing ball handlers, as its 39 steals through three games ranks second in the country, led by Teddy Allen’s 13 steals (11th nationally).
Not only is Nebraska taking away the basketball at a high rate, but it’s also converting those extra possessions in 26.7 points per game off of turnovers.
Combine all of that with the Huskers’ +12.0 turnover margin, and their formula for success is pretty evident.
2. Attack the boards
One of the biggest concerns Fred Hoiberg has about his team through three games has been an issue that has plagued Nebraska for years. Despite being a taller and longer team across the board, the Huskers have still struggled mightily in rebounding.
After holding a 45-35 edge in the opener vs. McNeese State, NU has been out-rebounded 100-72 over the last two games. That includes a 49-31 disadvantage vs. Nevada and then giving up 22 offensive boards to North Dakota State.
South Dakota has some decent frontcourt size, but like NDSU, the Coyotes get most of their rebounding from guards crashing the boards.
The Bison had two guards combined for nine offensive rebounds vs. Nebraska, so bodying up after shots and being the aggressors on the glass will be key today.
3. Don’t let the familiar faces bring more fire
Tonight will mark one of the rare instances where a former Husker will take on Nebraska as an opposing player.
South Dakota center Brady Heiman played 30 games at NU as a true freshman in 2018-19 before transferring shortly after Hoiberg’s arrival.
The 6-foot-10 redshirt sophomore from Springfield, Neb., has scored just two points in two starts this season but leads the team with 2.5 blocks per game.
Then there’s Kearney, Neb., native Kanon Coster, who began his college career at Nebraska-Kearney before joining USD. The sophomore guard has averaged 13.0 minutes off the bench.
Last but not least, another former Husker will be on the Coyotes’ bench in graduate assistant Johnny Trueblood. The Omaha, Neb., native played in 34 games and emerged as one of the best stories of NU’s 2018-19 season.
When that many Husker connections come back to Pinnacle Bank Arena ready to make a statement, Nebraska better be prepared to match their fire.
Nebraska (-12) 82, South Dakota 68
Robin’s season record: 2-1
vs. the spread: 2-1