Cent. Arkansas-Nebraska Preview
Reigning Big Ten scoring champion Terran Petteway has picked up where he left off, but Nebraska coach Tim Miles believes his squad isn't where it needs to be on the boards.
The 21st-ranked Cornhuskers go after their 19th win in 20 home games Tuesday night against Central Arkansas, which has been buried on the glass in two blowout defeats.
Petteway led the Big Ten with 18.1 points per game in 2013-14 while helping Nebraska to its best conference finish and first NCAA tournament since 1998. He opened with a strong performance Sunday, finishing with 25 points and a career-high six 3-pointers in an 80-61 home win over Northern Kentucky.
The junior forward is averaging 23.1 points while shooting 19 for 42 from 3-point range in his last eight home games.
"That's what I've been working on, knocking shots down and extending my range so it felt pretty good," Petteway said.
Shavon Shields, second on the team at 12.8 points per game last season, scored 18 while making all 10 of his free-throw attempts. He's also played well at home, averaging 20.8 points on 63.8 percent shooting in his last six.
Highly regarded freshman Tarin Smith impressed in his Nebraska debut with six points in 16 minutes off the bench.
The Cornhuskers, ranked for the first time since 1995, improved to 74-4 in their last 78 games in Lincoln against unranked nonconference opponents, though Miles is demanding a better effort after they were outrebounded 36-33.
"Let's just face it, rebounding is a decision," he said. "Blocking out is a decision. We practice it, but it has to be a mental decision that you have to make. That is the frustrating part of why we are not committed to it."
Nebraska should be able to make strides in that area against a Central Arkansas team that has been outrebounded 96-53 while dropping each of its first two games by at least 25 points.
The Bears, who have been playing with six freshmen, were crushed on the boards 51-25 in a 100-75 loss at Omaha on Sunday. They've given up at least 100 points in each game while allowing 20-of-48 shooting from 3-point range.
"A good number of times, we just had guys standing around outside the 3-point line," first-year coach Russ Pennell told the team's official website. "Every timeout was the same thing, I should have just played a recording - box out, pursue the ball."
Jordan Howard is averaging 16.5 points despite shooting 10 of 29 from the field, while fellow freshman Mathieu Kamba looks to build on Sunday's 18-point performance.
Central Arkansas has hit 20 of 45 from 3-point range, but it also has committed 40 turnovers.
That doesn't bode well heading into a meeting with a Nebraska team that held Northern Kentucky to 36.2 percent shooting and owned a 22-6 advantage in points off turnovers.
"The speed of the game for our young guys right now is a little bit overwhelming," Pennell said. "Hopefully, four or five games into it, we'll figure that part out."
The Cornhuskers seek their 10th straight home win as they take on Central Arkansas for the first time. The Bears have dropped 15 of 16 on the road.