Teams on the bottom end of the Big Ten Conference standings will tangle in a Saturday matinee when Minnesota hosts Nebraska in Minneapolis.
Minnesota (6-7, 0-3 Big Ten) has dropped eight in a row against conference competition, most recently a 63-60 setback Tuesday at No. 14 Wisconsin. The Golden Gophers rallied from down 15 and had a shot to force overtime but turned it over twice in the final 11 seconds, giving it away a season-high 20 times overall.
“We have to do a better job but I like the fight,” second-year Minnesota coach Ben Johnson said. “I like the competitiveness and we did a good job on the backboard which we wanted to do. We had the right mentality there. We just have to execute better and take care of the ball.”
Nebraska (8-7, 1-3) was thumped 74-56 at Michigan State on Tuesday, its sixth loss by double digits. The Cornhuskers were 2 of 16 from 3-point range and missed 12 of 20 free throws, continuing season-long trends.
“It’s not going to win a lot of games on the road when you shoot those percentages,” Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said.
Nebraska is shooting just 29.3 percent from 3 and a paltry 63.4 percent from the line. Since making 12 of 23 3s against Boston College on Nov. 30, the Huskers are shooting 25.5 percent from deep.
Forward Derrick Walker leads the Cornhuskers with 13.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
Minnesota is equally bad in both areas. The Gophers are a 34.1 percent 3-point shooting team and make only 59 percent of their free throws.
“For us, win or lose, we want to learn and grow from each game,” Johnson said.
Nebraska has claimed the past two meetings in the series, both at home in Lincoln, but hasn’t won at Williams Arena since 2018. It does have one road victory this season, winning at in-state rival Creighton on Dec. 4.
The Gophers are trying to avoid their first 0-4 start to Big Ten play since 2015-16 when they lost their first 13 league contests and finished 2-16 — their worst conference record in program history.
Dawson Garcia leads Minnesota in both scoring (14.2 points) and rebounding (5.8).
–Field Level Media