Penn State looking to snap slump at Nebraska

NCAA Men's Basketball

Penn State has played some of the top teams tough in the Big Ten Conference, but slip-ups against schools lower in the standings have been damaging to the Nittany Lions this season.

They bring a four-game losing streak to Lincoln, Neb., on Tuesday to face the last-place Cornhuskers.

After competitive losses to Ohio State and Iowa in the past week, Penn State hopes to rediscover the winning formula against a Nebraska team that used the Nittany Lions (7-12, 4-11) to score its only Big Ten victory of the season on Feb. 14.

“Keep being positive,” Penn State interim coach Jim Ferry said of his approach with his team. “We’re good enough to be in every single game. Right now, we haven’t finished them and it’s frustrating for everybody.”

Sunday’s 74-68 loss at then-No. 11 Iowa followed a 92-82 setback Thursday against No. 4 Ohio State.

“We played really good basketball for stretches,” Ferry said. “If we can play as hard as we played these past two games on Tuesday night, we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win that one.”

Nebraska (5-15, 1-12) has lost three in a row since beating Penn State, 62-61, for its only victory since before Christmas.

On Saturday, the Cornhuskers trailed Purdue by only three at halftime before falling 75-58 at home. Only Shamiel Stevenson with 10 points reached double figures for the Cornhuskers.

Nebraska did get some good production from the bench, as reserves outscored the starters 37-21.

“The bench was phenomenal,” Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I was going to play the guys that I felt give us the best chance to be competitive and win the game. And that’s exactly what they did. That’s why they got the minutes.

“Look at the plus minus of our team tonight and it will show you that that was a group that deserved to be on the floor.”

That could translate into some different lineup combinations in the Cornhuskers’ last six regular-season games. The starters have hit some trouble spots.

“Some of it probably is fatigue, but I’m not going to let them off the hook for that,” Hoiberg said. “You have to find the way to muster up the energy, especially after two days, to recharge to get back after the crazy stretch that we just finished. We are going to have to find a way to try to keep them fresh and get them back in there.”

Ferry acknowledged the Nittany Lions also might be showing fatigue, as they hit several scoring droughts last week.

“(Against Iowa) I don’t think we took bad shots. We just didn’t make them,” Ferry said. “We went to a couple of different guys to get good looks.”

In the first Nebraska-Penn State game, Teddy Allen had 14 points to lead Nebraska, which led by as many as 11 points before Penn State made a late run. Allen leads the Cornhuskers with a 16.5 scoring average.

Penn State’s Myreon Jones led all scorers in that game with 18 and is averaging 14.9 on the season.

Overall, Penn State leads the series, 11-10. This is a makeup game from a late-January postponement. The teams had gone more than a year without meeting and now are matched up twice in 10 days.

–Field Level Media

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