Huskers must protect the paint against Gophers

Huskers must protect the paint against Gophers
Nebraska has been outscored in the paint a combined 112-44 in its three losses this season. (World-Herald News Service)

LINCOLN — It’s hardly inside information that the best way to attack Nebraska is to go inside. Those details are readily found in the box scores of the losses for the Huskers (6-3, 0-1).

Check the numbers in setbacks to St. John’s, Central Florida and No. 3 Michigan State:

Points in the paint: outscored 44-16, 36-20 and 32-8. Rebounds: minus-11, minus-3 and minus-14. Offensive rebounds allowed: 16, 9 and 12.

All of that has come while Nebraska centers Jordy Tshimanga and Duby Okeke have combined to shoot 32.6 percent from the field and recorded more fouls (48) than points (36).

Now along comes No. 14 Minnesota (8-1, 1-0) to Pinnacle Bank Arena on Tuesday night, a team in which two of its three best players are also the biggest.

Center Reggie Lynch, a 6-foot-10, 265-pound senior, was voted Big Ten defensive player of the year last year after finishing No. 2 nationally in blocked shots with 3.5 per game. This season, Lynch is No. 1 at 4.8 blocks, and has boosted his scoring and rebounding averages to 11.9 and 8.6 while shooting 61.8 percent.

Forward Jordan Murphy has even more eye-catching numbers.

The 6-6, 250-pound junior from San Antonio has recorded double-doubles in all nine games this season, with averages of 21.0 points and 12.9 rebounds. Murphy was voted Big Ten player of the week three consecutive times. He shoots 57.9 percent from the field.

Coach Tim Miles dismissed the inside woes in Sunday’s 29-point loss to Michigan State, noting the quality of the opponent.

“They’re hard to play against,” Miles said. “I think they are that good. I don’t think we’re that bad. I’m not happy about any of this. There are a lot of things we need to improve.

“We couldn’t establish a post game at all. We’ve got to get that cleaned up. We could get in there, but we couldn’t do anything with it.”

The quality of the opponent Tuesday again is notable. Minnesota’s lone loss was 86-81 to No. 10 Miami.

“We’ve got no time to mope,” Miles said. “We’ve got a team just as physical … and just because it’s in a different environment doesn’t mean we’re going to play any better or worse.

“They have two tremendous inside kids, but they aren’t as deep as Michigan State.”


» Miles said sophomore forward Isaiah Roby is progressing well from his sprained ankle and should play his regular minutes in the rotation. The Huskers held a light practice Monday with a one-day preparation for Minnesota.

» Against Michigan State, the Huskers shot 45.5 percent from 3-point range (10 of 22) and 17.6 percent (7 of 40) from 2. The 27.4 percent overall was the second lowest in Miles’ six years.

» Tuesday is “Stripe the Vault’’ night. Adidas is providing extra-large T-shirts in red or white, depending on the seating section, to create alternating color stripes.

Minnesota at Nebraska

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Pinnacle Bank Arena

Radio: 1600 AM, 105.5 FM

Nebraska (6-3, 0-1)

C, J. Tshimanga, 6-11, So., 3.2

F, I. Copeland, 6-9, Jr., 12.0

G, J. Palmer, 6-6, Jr., 14.3

G, E. Taylor, 6-5, Sr., 9.6

G, G. Watson, 6-0, Jr., 12.9

Minnesota (8-1, 1-0)

C, R. Lynch, 6-10, Sr., 11.9

F, J. Murphy, 6-6, Jr., 21.0

G, A. Coffey, 6-8, So., 13.4

G, D. McBrayer, 6-5, Jr., 9.0

G, N. Mason, 6-2, Sr., 15.2

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