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Brandon Ubel

Game Preview: Gophers vs. Nebraska 1/29/13

01/29/2013, 7:50am CST
By J.B. Bauer

Gophers Seek to Snap Four Game Skid

New head coach Tim Miles leads his Nebraska Huskers (11-10, 2-6) to Minneapolis where they'll take on the #23/#24 Minnesota Golden Gophers (15-5, 3-4) Tuesday night. The game will tip at approximately 8:06pm CT and can be seen on the Big Ten Network.

Tim Miles

Nebraska's Tim Miles spent four seasons as head coach at Southwest Minnesota State. (Photo by Bruce Thorson / USA TODAY Sports)

Game Preview: Nebraska (11-10, 2-6) at #23/#24 Minnesota (15-5, 3-4) 1/26/13

Minnesota has dropped four in a row, but only one of them was a truly bad loss. With four of the next five at home, the Gophers have a good chance to get things back on track.

While they’ll likely be favored in each of their next four home games, Tuesday’s contest against Nebraska is the one absolute must-have victory. It’s not only a game Minnesota should win, it’s one in which they should be able to dominate and start to rebuild some of the confidence lost over the past two weeks.

The Huskers’ have been good at limiting their turnovers and keeping opponents from getting second chances. Most other areas of the game have been rough going for Nebraska, but that shouldn’t be surprising: besides Brandon Ubel (59), the rest of the roster had eight career starts at Nebraska coming into this season. 

Limiting the Gophers’ offensive rebounds will be very important, but above all else Nebraska must make shots in order to pull off the upset. On defense they’re decent enough to compete as long as they’re putting points up on the board.

In Big Ten competition Nebraska has an eFG% of 41.1%, which is lower than all other conference teams except for winless Penn State. Including nonconference games, the Huskers have shot less than 40% eFG eight times and lost each of those games. As bad as the Gophers’ shooting has been at times, they’ve only shot less than 40% eFG once all season (at Northwestern).

When Nebraska is converting their attempts at a decent rate they’ve been able to win. In their 10 games of shooting better than 45% eFG they are a perfect 10-0. They do have a number of capable scorers; six different players have scored 20 points or more in a game this season.

Minnesota has often shot the ball poorly as well, just not quite as bad as Nebraska. However, in the last two games Gopher shooters have made only 24 of 70 2-point field attempts (34.3%), missing not only jumpshots, but also layups and even dunks.

Some of the negative reactions to the Gophers’ recent slide have been over the top. However, if Minnesota somehow loses to Nebraska then by all means a total meltdown by fans is warranted.

KEY PLAYERS

Brandon Ubel (12.1p, 7.0r) gets my vote for Nebraska’s best player. The 6’10” senior forward missed two games with an elbow injury, but he’s been back for the last three and has played well. 

Ubel’s involvement in the offense has jumped significantly this season and even though his shooting is down a bit from past years, he’s been solid. You won’t see him take many 3-pointers, but he’s got good range on his shot for being as big as he is. Brandon is a good offensive rebounder and pulled down 7 on Saturday against Northwestern. 

Combo guard Dylan Talley (13.4p, 5.5r, 2.6a, 1.0s) is in his second year at Nebraska. He starred at the JUCO level as a sophomore and played at D-I Binghamton as a freshman. Now a senior, he’s been playing point guard recently and at 6’5”, 216 pounds he can be a challenge for some defenders to handle. 

Like Ubel, Talley’s involvement in the team’s offense has increased this year and he’s being used in 27% of the team’s possessions while averaging more than 35 minutes a game. Talley is capable of putting up points (20 and 16 in his last two, respectively), but has struggled from the field (40.4% eFG).

Ray Gallegos (12.7p, 3.2r) is putting in 37 minutes of work every night and shooting better than he ever has before. However, that’s still not very good. His 2FG% of 55% is fine, but nearly two-thirds of his attempts come from behind the arc where he’s shot just 29.7% (49/165). Gallegos will put up a lot of 3-point attempts and Nebraska needs him to knock a few down.

Other Players to Watch:

  • Big Andre Almeida (5.8p, 3.9r) stands 6’11” and weighs 314 pounds and will likely play as much as he’s able to against the Gophers. Injury, conditioning and foul trouble all could limit his time on the floor.

    The Brazilian center redshirted last year while recovering from a knee injury and sat against Northwestern this past Saturday after suffering a “head injury” earlier in the week. On Monday, head coach Tim Miles said Andre is good to go for Tuesday’s game. With his size, Almeida brings what you would expect: rebounding and shot blocking.
     
  • Shavon Shields (7.4p, 5.0r) is a 6’6” freshman wing and a promising talent. He has rebounded the ball well on the defensive end all season and two weeks ago went on a tear at Penn State: 29 points on 10/11 FG (1/1 3FG) and 8/8 FT, 6 rebounds and 3 steals. (He also turned it over 6 times and fouled out of the game, but Nebraska won and he was on fire.) Shavon’s father is former NFL lineman Will Shields, a standout at Nebraska and in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs.

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J.B. Bauer on Twitter 

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Tag(s): Gopher Basketball