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Scouting Notes: Nebraska



Indiana basketball
A deep dive into Nebraska and some of the challenges it could give the Indiana basketball program in Wednesday's matchup. (Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports)

Indiana basketball has wrapped up non-conference play and resumes Big Ten play on Wednesday against Nebraska.

Nebraska enters Wednesday’s matchup at 11-2 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten play. It’s the best start for Nebraska in three decades and the best and deepest team Fred Hoiberg has had in his five seasons. The Huskers rank 48th in the country with an offensive efficiency rating of 112.3. Defensively, they rank 68th overall with a rating of 99.1. Overall, they rank 53rd in KenPom’s ratings.

Here is a deep dive into some of the challenges Nebraska could give the Indiana basketball program.

Key Players

Brice Williams is the leading scorer for a very balanced Nebraska roster. The Charlotte transfer is effective both on and off the ball and can score at all three levels. He’s shooting 34.6 percent on four 3s per game but has seen that number dip to just 23.8 percent in the last five games. Most of his looks do come off of the catch, however. Williams has good length and size that helps him rise up over big defenders. He has fluid athleticism but isn’t going to typically play above the rim. He loves to draw contact on drives or at the rim, getting to the line four times a game (88 percent).

In the backcourt with Williams is Keisei Tominaga. Tominaga is a tremendous shooter but has been a bit inconstant this year. He shot 40 percent from three last year but is at just 33 percent this season. Tominaga is going to look for 3s on his first, second and even third look before either driving or passing. 58.9 percent of his career shot attempts and 58.8 percent this year, come on 3s. Tominaga is a tough cover because of how much he moves without the ball. He utilizes numerous off ball screens to get open and typically does a great job at reading the defender. Indiana can’t lose him off the ball like it has struggled with in the past.

Juwan Gary is back in the starting lineup over the last few games and has continued his great play. His versatility is something that will give Indiana basketball fits. He’s a 6-foot-6 forward who plays closer to 7-feet + with his length and motor. Gary can play on the perimeter or on the block. He’s shooting 37.1 percent on 3.5 attempted 3s per game. He ranks second in the Big Ten in efficiency rating, third in the Big Ten in offensive rating and fourth in box +/-.  Gary averages 3.0 offensive rebounds per game so Indiana needs to keep him off the glass.

A wildcard on the floor will be center Rienk Mast. The 6-foot-10 big is averaging 13.0 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.0 assist per game this season but has missed the last few weeks with a knee injury. On Tuesday, Fred Hoiberg said Mast will be a game-time-decision. Mast is a terrific post player who has great footwork and patience. He does a tremendous job getting deep in the paint and utilizing a carry of moves to score over and around defenders. A lot of possessions will go through Mast with his assist rate second on the team.

Josiah Allick is another member of the front court for the Huskers. Allick is a very defensive-minded forward who has good length and shot-impact ability. He’s not a tremendous shot blocker but makes life extremely difficult on opponents with his length. Allick gets most of his work not he offensive end off of offensive rebounds — nearly three a game.

Coming off the bench is CJ Wilcher — a 6-foot-5 wing. Wilcher is extremely streaky but someone who can light it up from three. 46.5 percent of his made field goals this year are 3s. He’s shooting 38.6 percent on the season but has made more than one three in just five games. He also has four games without a single make. Wilcher is out there to shoot and most of it is off the catch. If Indiana can push him off the three-point line, that will be critical in making him much less effective.

Key Tendencies

Nebraska is going to live and die by 3s. Eight players attempt at least two 3s per game and as a team the Huskers take 26.9 3s per game — ranked 37th nationally. 44.9 percent of their total shot attempts come from three, 32nd in the country. The Huskers are going to play fast, utilize their versatile forwards and spread the floor. Despite taking the amount of 3s it does, Nebraska ranks just 219th in total percentage at just 32.9 percent. But, what it doesn’t make, it rebounds. The Huskers average 13 offensive rebounds per game while ranking 66th in offensive rebound rate at 33.5 percent. Indiana basketball has struggled on the defensive glass this year, especially with long rebounds so that will be a critical storyline to follow.

Defensively, Nebraska makes its opponents work and they do so without fouling. Nebraska allows just 15.1 free throw attempts per game — ranked third in the Big Ten. Opponents get just 16.7 percent of their points from the foul line — ranked 279th overall. Indiana ranks 41st in percentage of points from free throws at 22.5 percent. Indiana is shooting 38.6 percent and making 6.8 3s per game over the last five games, but Nebraska holds opponents to just 28.1 percent from three — 16th overall.

Overall, Nebraska has versatility all over the floor on both ends. Indiana basketball needs to be ready for major floor spacing on the offensive end. All five players on the floor for the Huskers will be able to shoot from the perimeter. IU’s ability to play 1-on-1 defense will be critical but there is nothing to show that it will limit the over helping on dribble drives. Indiana needs to win the free throw battle, something Nebraska has been able to win in 11 of 13 games this season.

Projected Starters

G – Jamarques Lawrence (Sophomore; 6-3, 182)

Stats: 6.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.8 apg

G – Keisei Tominaga (Senior; 6-2, 179)

Stats: 12.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 33% 3pt

G – Brice Williams (Junior; 6-7, 213)

Stats: 13.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.2 apg, 34.6% 3pt

F – Juwan Gary (Senior; 6-6, 221)

Stats: 13.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 37.1% 3pt

F – Josiah Allick (Senior; 6-8, 231)

Stats: 7.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.3 apg

Key Notes

  • Nebraska has won its 17 games dating back to last season when holding an opponent to 70 points or less — this season, the Huskers are 13-0
  • NU’s 18-8 record is the best 26-game record since joining the Big Ten in 2011-12
  • Nebraska leads the Big Ten with 9.3 made 3s per game
  • NU’s bench is averaging a conference-best 23.1 points per game
  • Indiana basketball leads the all-time series 19-7

SEE ALSO: 5 key questions, other key notes facing Indiana basketball as Big Ten play resumes

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Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.