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November 20, 2011

Gameday: Nebraska vs. Rhode Island

Nebraska Cornhuskers

vs. Rhode Island Rams
Sunday, November 20, 2011 - 1:01 p.m. CT
TV: Big Ten Network / RADIO: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network

Rhode Island (0-2)
Streak: Lost 2
Last Game: Lost to Texas 100-90
G Mike Powell (leads team with 5.5 assists per game) Fr. 5-11 175
G Jamal Wilson (Rams' leading scorer at 31.0 ppg and rebounder at 6.0 rpg) Sr. 6-5 195
F Nikola Malesevic (second-leading scorer with 17.0 ppg, scored 22 against Texas) Jr. 6-7 200
F Jonathan Holton (nearly averaging a double-double with 9.0 ppg and 10.0 rpg) Fr. 6-9 220
F Orion Outerbridge (scoring 13.0 ppg along with 5.5 rpg) Sr. 6-9 210

Nebraska CornhuskersNebraska Cornhuskers (1-0)
Streak: Won 2
Last Game: Defeated USC 64-61 2OT
G Bo Spencer (leads team with 14.0 ppg, scored 22 points against USC) Sr. 6-2 196
G Brandon Richardson (second on team with 11 ppg, leads NU with 3.0 assists per game) Sr. 6-0 190
G Caleb Walker (averaging 10.0 ppg and 6.0 rpg this season) Sr. 6-4 205
G Brandon Ubel (leads team with 6.5 rpg on the year) Jr. 6-10 235
F Jorge Brian Diaz (averaging 10.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 4.0 blocks per game) Jr. 6-11 244

Pick up the offense

Any team that plays Rhode Island knows it's going to be in for a shootout. For a Nebraska team that's had issues scoring for years now, finding a way to consistently produce offense and not fall into an early hole will be huge. Senior point guard Bo Spencer has shown flashes of being the type of player who can create his own shot, and junior guard Dylan Talley has gotten better and better every game. Against a Rams squad that loves to get out and run, NU would be well served to work the ball inside and run its offense to get high-percentage shots.
Control the tempo

As mentioned, Rhode Island thrives on a fast-paced transition offense, as all five of its starters are capable of getting up and down the court. The Rams may be 0-2 this season, but it's by no fault of their scoring, as they've scored 90 points in both games against George Mason and Texas. On offense, Nebraska needs to slow things down and work the ball around to keep Rhode Island from going on too many scoring runs. On defense, look for the Huskers to mix in a little more zone than usual to force the Rams to run a traditional half-court offense as much as possible.
Begin the stretch

Today's game kicks off arguably one of the most difficult and important non-conference stretches Nebraska has faced in at least a decade. Starting with Rhode Island, the Huskers will play five games in the next 15 days, including home games against Oregon and Wake Forest and then on the road at Creighton. It will be crucial to start the stretch off on a positive note with a win over the Rams, as a loss could very easily have a snowball effect over the next two weeks.

Head coach Doc Sadler Nebraska's upcoming five games in 15 days:

"Like it or not, this stretch could have a big part in what kind of year we have. When you're a program like Nebraska that doesn't have a big résumé in previous years, two or three non-conference losses can really hurt you, no matter who you play. I think this could be a big part of our season. I really do. It's a very, very tough stretch."
Junior guard Jorge Brian Diaz on Nebraska's win over USC on Monday:

"We did celebrate. It was a really hard game. So we had to celebrate. It was fun."

Nebraska 76-71

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