Nebraska desperately sought game action after enduring a 27-day layoff related to COVID-19 pandemic concerns within the program.
After getting their wish during Saturday’s 66-56 loss at Michigan State, the Cornhuskers now will turn their attention to rebuilding momentum and removing rust for the stretch run, beginning with Monday’s trip to Minnesota.
“Honestly, the layoff — it kind of messed a lot of us up team-wise,” Nebraska’s Trey McGowens said. “This whole week was draining because we had to get in shape in about four or five days. So that was kind of tough.”
Playing for the first time since Jan. 10, the Cornhuskers (4-9, 0-6 Big Ten) shot just 36.2 percent, including 17.6 percent from long range, but maintained defensive consistency against the Spartans, forcing 22 turnovers. McGowens (13 points) and Lat Mayen (10) both finished in double figures.
“I thought we really competed,” Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said. “That was the one thing I was really looking for tonight is to come out and give a really good effort. And for the most part, I thought we did that, especially in the second half.
“There’s positives from a competitive standpoint; that’s what I was looking for in this game. I had no idea what to expect with the layoff, but I’m really proud of them for going out and fighting and giving themselves a chance.”
Minnesota (11-7, 4-7 Big Ten) is aiming to regroup from Thursday’s 76-72 loss at Rutgers. The Golden Gophers fell to 0-6 on the road this season, but the Rutgers game was their closest by far, as the Scarlet Knights didn’t grab the lead for good until a Geo Baker jumper with 1:01 to play.
Marcus Carr tallied 18 points, six rebounds and seven assists, while Liam Robbins notched a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Golden Gophers coach Richard Pitino continued to express confidence in his players.
“I think they’re positive,” Pitino said. “I think they saw we were really good for about 37 minutes. We just had some turnovers. They made some plays, and we took a bad shot (on Minnesota’s final possession). We’ve grown. We’ve had seven losses, but six have not looked like that.”
Nebraska has lost 23 successive games in Big Ten play as the program seeks its first conference win since Jan. 7, 2020.
–Field Level Media