Nebraska Cornhuskers

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No. 25 Michigan cruises past Nebraska

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Jon Teske scored 12 points and Zavier Simpson added 11 in their home finale, and No. 25 Michigan beat Nebraska 82-58 on Thursday, a night when Wolverines fans welcomed former coach John Beilein back to Crisler Center.

Beilein watched from a box about halfway up the seating bowl as his old team closed out its home schedule with a relatively easy win. Michigan (19-11, 10-9 Big Ten) led 32-28 at halftime before starting the second with an 18-4 run.

Nebraska (7-23, 2-17) was without guard Cam Mack, suspended for a violation of team rules. The Cornhuskers have lost 15 straight.

Isaiah Livers had 18 points and 10 rebounds for Michigan, and Simpson had 10 assists. Haanif Cheatham led Nebraska with 19 points.

Teske and Simpson each won his 108th game for the Wolverines, extending the school record. Simpson played in his 145th game, breaking a tie with Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman for Michigan’s career lead.

Abdur-Rahkman, who played on Michigan’s 2018 Final Four team, was also back at Crisler. He was shown on the video screen during the first half, and then there was a huge ovation when Beilein was put on the screen late in the half.

Beilein left Michigan after last season to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he lasted less than one season with them and resigned last month.

BIG PICTURE

Nebraska: The Cornhuskers fell behind 11-2 but were able to keep it close until halftime. Ultimately, this was Nebraska’s fifth double-digit loss in its last six games.

Michigan: The Wolverines were coming off two straight losses, but this was a comfortable victory that assures Michigan at least a .500 record in the Big Ten regular season. The Wolverines are also one victory short of 20, which would be a nice accomplishment in coach Juwan Howard’s first season.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Michigan barely stayed in the AP Top 25 this week and still has another big test before the next poll.

UP NEXT

Nebraska: The Cornhuskers play at Minnesota on Sunday.

Michigan: The Wolverines wrap up the regular season at No. 9 Maryland on Sunday.

Ohio State suspends Luther Muhammed and Duane Washington, Jr.

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A reeling Ohio State team just made what should be a gimme home game against Nebraska a little tougher.

Contributors Luther Muhammed and Duane Washington, Jr. have both been suspended, Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann announced Tuesday shortly before tipoff. The suspension is for “failing to meet team expectations.”

The Buckeyes have lost four-straight against strong competition – West Virginia (neutral floor), Wisconsin (home), Maryland (away) and Indiana (away) but are slipping considerably in a hotly-contested Big Ten.  Nebraska is just 7-9 overall and 2-3 in the league, but does own victories over Iowa and Purdue.

The suspensions could last longer than just the game against the Huskers, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

Washington is averaging 10.7 points per game while Muhammad, a 15-game starter now coming off the bench, is averaging 6.5 points per game. Perhaps most importantly, it leaves Holtmann and the Buckeyes exceedingly thin at guard with CJ Walker and D.J. Carton the only other backcourt options on the roster.

Can Fred Hoiberg turn Nebraska into a winner?

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LINCOLN, Neb. — It was Nick Nurse, a man who shared his Iowa upbringing and had risen to the same NBA coaching heights, that perhaps most clearly articulated the general thinking regarding Fred Hoiberg’s decision to become the head coach at Nebraska.

“I don’t know why I’m surprised, but I am,” the Toronto Raptors coach told reporters in Chicago last month. “I guess I didn’t know if he’d go right back into it. I thought maybe there’d be one of the real premier jobs or something that he wouldn’t take. Not saying Nebraska isn’t a great job and obviously a premier league. I’m sure he can make it a great job.”

Hoiberg, who turned his alma mater Iowa State from a woebegone program into a perennial NCAA tournament team and Big 12 contender, has gone from coaching a franchise the defined the sport to a generation to guiding a program that has only known generations of losing.

Why, exactly, would Hoiberg come here, to a place where football reigns supreme, high-level local basketball prospects are about as common as beachfront property and has no tradition to speak of?

“We feel that we can build a program that consistently wins,” Hoiberg said earlier this week.

Nebraska is certainly betting on it. Big.

The Huskers have committed $25 million over seven years to Hoiberg along with an assistant salary pool of $1 million per year.

“We paid top dollar,” said Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos, who gave football coach Scott Frost a seven-year, $35 million deal in late 2017.

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Nebraska is spending big on its athletics in the hopes its football program can recapture some semblance of success it had in the 1990s while jumpstarting a basketball program that has rarely been relevant nationally decade after decade. In a world where money talks, the Huskers are beginning to scream as one of the country’s richest athletic departments as it now reaps the benefits for the first time of a full Big Ten revenue distribution share after joining the league in 2011.

“The Big Ten money is huge,” Moos said. “We’ve got tremendous revenue streams coming into our program that I’m comfortable, with the blessing of my chancellor and my president, to pay top dollar for top coaches.

“Nebraska is a destination. That brand means something. I’m really excited for our future with this program.”

If Nebraska is a destination, it’s partly because no coaches have been able to get out alive. Tim Miles was fired after one NCAA tournament appearance in seven years. Doc Sadler was cut loose after six years and no tourney appearances. Six years was how long Barry Collier lasted before resigning, also without a tourney trip. Before that Danny Nee went to four tournaments in four-straight years during his 14-year tenure in Lincoln, but was fired as the school’s winningest coach.

In total, the Huskers have seven all-time NCAA tournament appearances, among the fewest from Power 5 schools. They have zero all-time tournament wins.

Hoiberg, who took Iowa State to four NCAA tournaments in five years, will be among the Big Ten’s wealthiest coaches in a place with one of its poorest traditions. It’s a pairing that makes more sense than it would initially seem, though. Hoiberg could have sat out this upcoming season and collected $5 million from the Bulls and waited to see if one of the high-level gigs – something like Arizona or Texas – opened up, but the famously competitive Hoiberg, who once chucked his Pinewood Derby car across a parking lot in disgust when it failed to take first place, wasn’t inclined to wait around. His post-firing days were spent tagging along with his wife to yoga and coffee, sitting in his robe putting together puzzles and watching ‘Real Housewives’ reruns. A little different than the night-in, night-out adrenaline rush that comes with stalking an NBA sideline.

So sitting out never seemed like a real option, and Nebraska isn’t that far off from what Hoiberg inherited nine years ago at Iowa State, only with deeper pockets.

Hoiberg’s history at his alma mater and in his hometown is well documented, as The Mayor went from high school star to Cyclone All-American to 10-year NBA vet and back to revive a program that had fallen on hard times.

Lincoln has a similar, if far less extensive, pull. His grandfather, Jerry Bush, coached the Huskers from 1954-63. His other grandfather, Otto Hoiberg, was a Nebraska professor for nearly three decades. His parents are Nebraska alums, and he was born in Lincoln before moving to Ames a few years later.

So for Hoiberg, who covets comfort and familiarity, Nebraska made sense. He had history there. It’s the type of reclamation job he’s succeeded at before.

It’s also a marriage of serendipity. Nebraska had a bulging back account, an opening and a desire to raise its profile. Hoiberg had a high price tag, an eagerness to get back on the bench and the resume – both personally and professionally – to excite a fan base focused on football but who also turn out to basketball by the droves at Pinnacle Bank Arena, a $184 million gem in a newly-revitalized downtown.

“I see real potential here to have long-term success. And a lot of that has to do with the facilities that are here. We played an exhibition game a couple years ago when I was coaching for the Bulls, and I was just absolutely amazed,” Hoiberg said.

The coach, the money and the facilities are in place, but will that translate into winning? The Huskers may never have had a combination in those three areas like they do now, but the every one they’ve tried previously haven’t worked well enough to keep their NCAA tournament alive for more than 40 minutes.

“There are just so many things going for us,” Moos said, “and the myth that we can’t be successful, I’ve never bought into that.

“All this about never won a tournament game – if we’re competing in the upper half of the Big Ten year in and year out, we’re going to go to the tournament and win games.”

Hoiberg was introduced as the 28th coach in the history of Nebraska basketball Tuesday, emerging on the third floor of Memorial Stadium to much fanfare in an elevator that had been adorned with graphics to resembled a bank vault, an allusion to The Vault nickname for Nebraska’s home arena. Cheerleaders waived pom-poms. Fans cheered from a balcony. The football coaching staff watched from the back of the room.

The Huskers had their coach, and their hope.

A little more than an hour later, Hoiberg stepped back into that same elevator and those same doors that opened a new era of Nebraska basketball closed with him inside.

 

Tim Miles: ‘I haven’t heard anything’ regarding job status

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It’s been assumed Nebraska is going to fire Tim Miles. There’s even a presumptive replacement lined up, at least in the eyes of many in college basketball, in Fred Hoiberg.

If Miles is going to be let go by the Huskers, however, he hadn’t been alerted to by Monday evening.

“I’m just heading home,” Miles said while walking out of the Huskers’ practice facility, according to KLKN-TV. “I haven’t heard anything.”

It seems as though Nebraska should have a decision made given Miles came into the season under pressure, and it’s been clear for some time the Huskers were not going to make the NCAA tournament and their season came to an official conclusion Sunday with a loss to TCU in the NIT.

Plus, those Hoiberg rumors aren’t coming out of thin air. Why Nebraska simply hasn’t made a move – even if it was the shocking one of keeping Miles for an eighth season – is a question worth pondering.

In Nebraska’s defense, though, the university president did resign Monday, which could have sent things sideways at the school to start the week.

Still, Miles has been in a strange situation for some time, and the fact that it hasn’t reached a conclusion yet is just as strange as the last few weeks.

 

Nebraska surprises No. 21 Maryland 69-61 in Big Ten tourney

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CHICAGO — James Palmer scored 24 points and Nebraska shut down No. 21 Maryland for the first big surprise of the Big Ten Tournament, holding off the Terrapins for a 69-61 victory on Thursday.

Using a seven-man rotation because of injuries and backup guard Nana Akenten’s suspension, the Cornhuskers harassed the Terrapins into 36 percent (18 for 50) shooting and 11 turnovers. Glynn Watson Jr. added 19 points and Isaiah Roby finished with 15.

Nebraska (17-15) earned a second win in the Big Ten tourney for the first time since 2016 and will face fourth-seeded Wisconsin on Friday afternoon. The Cornhuskers advanced with a 68-61 victory against Rutgers on Wednesday night.

Maryland (22-10) swept Nebraska during the regular season, including a 60-45 win in Lincoln on Feb. 6. But the Terrapins struggled offensively in their third loss in their last four games.

Bruno Fernando, who entered with averages of 14 points and 10.5 rebounds, was held to three points and eight boards. Anthony Cowan Jr. scored 17 of his 18 points in the second half, and Darryl Morsell finished with 14.

The Terrapins trailed by as many as 13 in the first half, but they closed to 35-30 on Morsell’s jam with 14:49 left. The Cornhuskers responded with a 9-0 run, capped by Watson’s 3-pointer with 11:59 to go.

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon was whistled for a technical foul with 8:25 left after no foul was called as Morsell drove up the court on a fast break. Watson then made two foul shots and Roby converted a three-point play, extending Nebraska’s lead to 51-37 with 8:12 left.

BIG PICTURE

Nebraska: A third game in three days is one tough order for the Cornhuskers, but they have won three in a row since a four-game losing streak.

Maryland: The Terrapins showed some fight in the second half, but they had to chase the Cornhuskers after a shaky start. They had just 20 points in the first half on 29 percent shooting.

UP NEXT

Nebraska lost 62-51 to Wisconsin on Jan. 29 in their only meeting this season.

Maryland waits to see where it’s going in the NCAA Tournament.

Goins scores 24 as No. 9 Michigan State tops Nebraska 91-76

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EAST LANSING, Mich. — Kenny Goins and Matt McQuaid have been role players for much of their careers at Michigan State.

On the same night and in timely fashion, the seniors were stars for the ninth-ranked Spartans.

Goins scored 21 of his career-high 24 points in the first half and McQuaid finished with a career-best 22, leading Michigan State to a 91-76 win over Nebraska on Tuesday.

“It’s our last week in the Breslin and both of us are trying to go out with a bang,” Goins said.

Goins and McQuaid, along with freshman Aaron Henry, who scored a season-high 15 points, made up for Cassius Winston matching his season low with eight points.

Winston was slowed by knee tendinitis.

“Nothing that will linger,” coach Tom Izzo insisted.

The Spartans (24-6, 15-4 Big Ten) close the regular season against No. 7 Michigan (26-4, 15-4) at home Saturday night with at least a share of the conference championship at stake. No. 11 Purdue lost at Minnesota, dropping the Boilermakers into a three-way tie with Michigan State and the Wolverines.

“With a championship at stake, that just adds that much more,” Goins said.

The Cornhuskers (15-15, 5-14) have lost four in a row and 11 of 13 in what might be Tim Miles ‘ final season as their coach. Relatively speaking, they bounced back after an 82-53 loss at Michigan.

“That was such a disappointment,” Miles said. “We’ve got to have more in us than that and tonight we did. There are no moral victories, but at the same time, we fought back to seven.”

Nebraska’s James Palmer matched his season high with 30 points. Glynn Watson equaled his season best with 25 points while Isaiah Roby added 10 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

Michigan State started slowly before taking control and leading 47-29 at halftime after Goins was 5 of 5 on 3-pointers and McQuaid scored 13 in the opening 20 minutes.

“The basket looked huge in the first half,” Goins said.

Goins entered scoring 7.8 points per game and the former walk-on averaged 3.4 or fewer points over his first three seasons.

“He’s a self-made guy,” Miles said. “He went from a guy not in the scouting report years ago to going out and having a great night.”

McQuaid topped his previous best scoring game with a 3 midway through the second half to give the Spartans a 69-55 advantage after Nebraska rallied to pull within seven points.

“He’s playing some of his best basketball,” Izzo said.

BIG PICTURE

Nebraska: Miles fired back at a heckling fan who shouted his name and said he was going to get fired. “You think so?” Miles asked. “Maybe they’ll hire you.”

Miles is 112-112 at Nebraska, which would have to give him a $2.52 million buyout if the school fires him with two years left on his contract.

“It’s been a tough run for him, but his team had enough character to not quit,” Izzo said.

Michigan State: Henry played the way Izzo hopes he can for the rest of the season. The shooting guard entered averaging just 4.9 points per game. He has not looked confident starting in place of Joshua Langford, who had season-ending foot surgery.

“He did a good job of being aggressive,” McQuaid said. “He hit that 3 and that really got him going. He was on the boards and he was looking for his shot.”

INJURY REPORT

The Spartans, already without Nick Ward and Langford, were missing Kyle Ahrens because of a back injury. Izzo isn’t sure how long Ahrens will be out. Izzo doesn’t expect Ward , who had surgery on his left hand last month, to play against Michigan.

Ward’s shooting hard was broken and repaired, adding an obstacle to his comeback.

“I’ve learned I can do a lot of things with either hand,” he said. “It’s harder, but I can do it.”

Nebraska guard Thomas Allen, who averages 8.7 points, was on the bench with a walking boot on his left foot after being injured last week against Michigan.

WELCOME BACK

Michigan State’s 1959 Big Ten championship team , which was led by Jumpin’ Johnny Green, was honored on the court during the game.

UP NEXT

Nebraska: Will play Iowa at home on Sunday.

Michigan State: Hosts the rival Wolverines on Saturday night.

Follow Larry Lage at https://twitter.com/larrylage

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