Nebraska basketball (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten) takes on UC-Riverside (0-0, 0-0 Big West) on Tuesday in its season opener at Pinnacle Bank Arena at 8 p.m. CST.
The Huskers return just two players, juniors Dachon Burke and Thorir Thorbjarnarson. Burke led the Huskers in their exhibition game against Doane. He scored 15 points. Freshman Samari Curtis totaled 12 points, five rebounds and three steals.
Head coach Fred Hoiberg enters his first season at Nebraska with a top 50 national recruiting class, a mixture of grad transfers, transfers, JUCOs and freshman. The Huskers have 11 scholarship players and three walk-ons.
Tuesday’s matchup is the first meeting between the Huskers and Highlanders. Nebraska is 12-9 all-time against Big West schools.
Following Tuesday’s matchup, Nebraska will return to Pinnacle Bank Arena on Saturday, Nov. 9 to face Southern Utah at 1 p.m. CST.
Cam Mack – Freshman, guard
Dachon Burke – Junior, guard
Jervay Green – Junior, guard
Haanif Cheatham – Senior, guard
Yvan Ouedraogo – Freshman, forward
What to watch for:
Playing together: Nebraska returns just two players from the 2018-2019 season. The Huskers are tied with TCU for the most first-year players in the nation. Hoiberg put the roster together in just six weeks following his introduction in early April. The Huskers’ summer trip to Italy allowed the team to bond and get experience playing together, but the true test will come on Tuesday.
On the boards: The Huskers’ biggest challenge this season might be from the boards. Hoiberg said rebounding will be an important key to victory on Tuesday. Freshman Kevin Cross paced the Huskers with 10 rebounds in the exhibition game. The Highlanders have five players over 6-foot-8. If the Huskers want to stay in the game, they’ll need to be physical inside.
Conditioning: This year’s 2019-2020 team will feature a mixture of JUCOs and transfers. For most of the roster, it will be their first time competing at the Division I level. The team went through intense conditioning, similar to the Nebraska football program over the summer. Multiple players also had to change their eating habits. Hoiberg says Cross has lost 15-20 pounds in the offseason. Look for the Huskers to run less fastbreak on Tuesday.
Know your opponent:
***UC-Riverside posted a 10-23 overall record in the 2018-2019 season and placed eighth in the Big West. The team returns three starters and six letterwinners.
***Look for the Highlanders to work their offense around senior Dikymbe Martin. The guard tallied up six 20-point games as a junior. Martin led UC-Riverside in scoring (14.8 pig), steals (0.8 spg) and assists (2.6 apg) last season. He is a preseason All-Big West selection.
***Hoiberg isn’t the only coach getting adjusted to a fairly new team. UC-Riverside’s David Patrick is entering just his second year as the head coach. Prior to UC-Riverside, Patrick spent two seasons at TCU and four years at LSU.