Kent State (3-2) at Nebraska (4-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 24, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Devaney Sports Center (13,500) -- Lincoln, Nebraska. Television: BTN. Home Record: Kent St. 3-2, Nebraska 4-0. Away Record: Kent St. 0-0, Nebraska 0-0. Neutral Record: Kent St. 0-0, Nebraska 0-0. Conference Record: Kent St. 0-0, Nebraska 0-0. Series Record: Nebraska leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: Taking aim at their first in-season tournament title since the 2005-06 season, the Nebraska Cornhuskers close out play in the Joe Cipriano Classic, playing host to the Kent State Golden Flashes.
Tim Miles' Cornhuskers have enjoyed home-cooking to start the 2012-13 season, as this contest marks the last of a five-game homestand at the Devaney Center. Nebraska has won its first four games this year, including a tough 61-57 victory over Tulane on Nov. 21. The team will hit the road for the first time this season on Nov. 27 when Nebraska takes on Wake Forest in Winston-Salem as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Rob Senderoff's Golden Flashes have also opened the season with an extended homestand, as this marks the team's first road game. Kent State hasn't had the kind of success Nebraska has enjoyed in the early going, going 3-2 thus far. KSU does enter this contest off a thrilling 69-68 victory over Bethune-Cookman last Tuesday.
This is just the third time these two teams have met on the hardwood. Nebraska won both previous encounters, although these squads haven't met since the 2000 San Juan Shootout.
Randal Holt hit a big shot at the end of the game, giving the Golden Flashes a one-point win over Bethune-Cookman this week. Chris Evans led the way for Kent State, recording his first double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Holt and Chris Ortiz added 13 points apiece for KSU, which shot just 40 percent from the floor. The Golden Flashes were able to make up for the poor shooting performance by outscoring Bethune-Cookman at the free-throw line, 20-5.
Despite shooting a modest .429 from the field this season, Kent State is still putting up a respectable 75.2 ppg. Evans and Holt have been a potent one-two punch. Evans, who is a strong finisher and is converting 54.7 percent from the floor, leads the way in both scoring (16.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.4 rpg). Holt isn't far behind in the scoring column (15.2 ppg) and has a team-high 12 3- pointers to date. The team has also been solid with its defensive pressure, forcing almost 19 turnovers per game (18.8).
The Cornhuskers turned up the heat defensively down the stretch, holding Tulane without a field goal over the final seven minutes to come from behind and earn the four-point victory. Ray Gallegos and Dylan Talley led the way with 14 points each. Brandon Ubel and Andre Almeida provided balance with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Nebraska has been successful this season on the strength of its defense. The team is averaging a modest 63.0 ppg, but that is more than enough considering foes are averaging just 55.5 ppg and being held under 40 percent from the floor (.397). Ubel has converted an impressive 60 percent of his shots and leads the team in both scoring (15.3 ppg) and rebounding (6.8 rpg). Gallegos and Talley provide perimeter support with 13.8 and 13.5 ppg, respectively.
The Golden Flashes aren't shooting the ball well enough at the moment and against a defensive-minded team in its own building, the chips are stacked against Kent State in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Nebraska 67, Kent State 58
11/24 10:30:40 ET