Story by NU Athletic Communications
The Nebraska men's basketball team looks for their best start since 2008-09 on Saturday, as the Huskers travel to Sioux Falls, S.D., for a matchup with Oregon State. Tipoff at the Sanford Pentagon is set for shortly after 3 p.m. and the matchup will be carried on select Husker Radio Network stations (105.3 FM in Lincoln and 105.9 FM in Omaha), on Huskers.com and on the Huskers app. The game will also be available on Peacock, NBC's streaming service. Tickets are available for the Saturday's contest by visiting Ticketmaster.com or Sanfordsports.com.
The Huskers hit the road for the first time this season looking for their first 5-0 start since the 2008-09 team opened the season with a 6-0 mark. NU's 4-0 mark is the first since 2018-19, which was also the only other time the Huskers have played at the Sanford Pentagon.
The Huskers are coming off an 84-63 win over Stony Brook on Wednesday night, as NU shot a season-high 55 percent from the field and put four players in double figures in matching its highest offensive output of the season. Juwan Gary came off the bench for 19 points and seven rebounds in his 2023-24 debut, while Brice Williams scored 16 of his 17 points in the second half and added nine rebounds. Keisei Tominaga (16) and Rienk Mast (14) also finished in double figures, as Nebraska scored 80 or more points for the third time in four games.
Oregon State comes into the matchup with a 3-0 record following an 81-71 overtime win over Appalachian State on Tuesday night. Jordan Pope had 25 points and seven rebounds, as the Beavers outscored the Mountaineers, 18-8 in OT.
Looking at Oregon StateOregon State comes to Sioux Falls with a 3-0 record after an 81-71 overtime win over Appalachian State on Tuesday evening. The Beavers have played a pair of overtime games in the first two weeks of the season, including an 82-81 double-OT win over Troy on Nov. 10.
OSU returned a trio of starters and 10 letterwinners from an extremely young team in 2022-23 that went 11-21, including 5-15 in the Pac-12. The Beavers' top two scorers are sophomores in Jordan Pope (19.0 ppg, 42 percent from 3-point range) and Tyler Bilodeau (15.0 ppg, 9.3 rpg). In addition, K.C. Ibekwe started Oregon State's first two games and had 10 points and eight boards in the win over Appalachian State. Another sophomore who started most of last season was Michael Rataj, as the 6-foot-9 forward averaged 6.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. He has not played this season because of a shin injury.
Wayne Tinkle is in his 10th year at Oregon State and guided the Beavers to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances (2016 and 2021), including an Elite Eight finish in 2021. He ranks third on Oregon State's career wins list while OSU's 2016 NCAA appearances was the school's first since 1990. Prior to taking the Oregon State post, he was the head coach at Montana from 2006 to 2014 and guided the program to three NAA appearances in a four-year span.
Nebraska is 4-6 all-time against Oregon State but has not played the Beavers since a 50-44 win in Lincoln on Dec. 12, 2009. Seven of the 10 meetings in the series took place between 1940 and 1969. NU is 120-123 all-time against the current members of the Pac-12 Conference.
Last Time Out:Juwan Gary matched his career high with 19 points as Nebraska shot 66 percent in the second half en route to an 84-53 win over Stony Brook on Nov. 15.
Gary, who missed NU’s first four contests, hit 8-of-11 shots from the floor and added seven rebounds. Brice Williams scored 16 of his 17 points in the second half and added a game-high nine rebounds, as Nebraska enjoyed a 45-28 advantage on the glass. Williams scored six of his points in a 13-2 Husker spurt after Stony Brook pulled to within 64-54 with 8:30 remaining. Keisei Tominaga and Rienk Mast added 16 and 14 points, respectively, as the Huskers cracked the 80-point plateau for the third time in four games.
Leading 36-28 at the break, the Huskers hit eight of their first 10 shots from the field in the second half to push the margin to 53-51 after a C.J. Wilcher basket. The Seawolves responded with a 7-0 run of its own to get within 56-49 and forced a Husker timeout. The Seawolves were within 59-52, but the Huskers took control with a 13-2 spurt to build a 72-54 lead after a Jamarques Lawrence basket with 6:37 left.
Postgame Notes vs. Stony Brook
- Nebraska improved to 4-0 for the first time since the 2018-19 season.
- Juwan Gary led Nebraska with 19 points, matching his collegiate career high. He also had 19 points against Houston (12/11/21) and at Florida (1/5/22) at Alabama.
- Gary became the fourth different Husker to lead NU in scoring this year.
- Brice Williams posted season bests in points (17), rebounds (nine) and assists (four), as his four assists tied a career high.
- Nebraska shot a season-high 55 percent, including 65.5 percent in the second half. It is the first time NU shot 50 percent or better this season.
- Nebraska's 4-0 start is the fourth time in the last 12 seasons that NU has opened 4-0 (also 2018-19, 2016-17 and 2012-13).
- The Huskers are 10-3 over the last 13 games dating back to Feb. 1. A big reason for that is NU's offense, as NU has averaged 75.6 ppg on 48 percent shooting in that stretch. For the first 23 games last year until Feb. 1, NU was at 65.4 ppg. NU has scored 70+ points in 11 of the past 13 games after reaching that mark just seven times in the first 23 games of last season.
Since Feb. 1
Points per Game
- Nebraska has been stout on the defensive end during the early portion of the season. The Huskers are among the Big Ten leaders in points per game (54.8, second), field goal percentage defense (.328, first) and rebound margin (+13.5, first). NU is also 40th nationally in defensive efficiency according to KenPom following Wednesday's games.
Big Red Defense
Points per Game
FG Pct. Defense
Opponent 3-Pt Pct.
- Nebraska's bench has provided a spark early on, averaging 28.0 points per game in the first four contests. The Huskers' leading scorer has come from the bench in three of the four games (Hoiberg-Lindenwood; Wilcher-Rider; Gary-Stony Brook), and NU has had at least one double-figure effort from its bench in the first four contests.
- Rienk Mast now has 22 career double-doubles entering Saturday's game with Oregon State. The 6-foot-10 forward is 22nd nationally among all active players and trails only Zach Edey (41) among current Big Ten players. Mast's two double-doubles tie for the Big Ten lead and is fifth nationally as of Nov. 16.
- Nebraska is 17-4 under Hoiberg when scoring at least 80 points including 12-1 over the last three seasons. The only loss was a 104-100 quadruple overtime game at North Carolina State on Dec. 1, 2021. NU has won its last 10 games when reaching the 80-point plateau.
- Nebraska has regained its top two returning scorers this week, as Keisei Tominaga (13.1 ppg in 2022-23) returned from an ankle injury on Monday and Juwan Gary (9.6 ppg, 6.5 pg) made his 2023-24 debut on Wednesday vs. Stony Brook. Tominaga missed NU's first two games, while Gary, who had off-season shoulder surgery had not played since suffering the injury on Jan. 10, 2023.
Finding BalanceNebraska relied on its depth and balance early in the season. While the Huskers have four players averaging double figures, five others are at between 5.0 and 8.5 ppg after four games.
- Nebraska has had eight different players reach double figures in the first three contests and have had a different leading scorer in each of the first four games.
- The Huskers have had a different player lead the team in assists in each of the first four games, while Rienk Mast is the only play to top NU in rebounds more than once.
- No Husker averages more than 27 minutes per game, while 20 players are averaging at least double figures in minutes. Despite the number of different lineups NU has been forced to use, the Huskers have had at least eight players play double-figure minutes in each of the first four games.
- NU has gotten at least one double-figure effort from its bench in each of the first four contests. The Huskers have gotten nearly 36 percent of their scoring from the bench over the first four contests.
- Seven of the 12 players who played in the season opener were making their Husker debut. In fact, junior C.J. Wilcher was the only player who appeared in both the 2022-23 and 2023-24 openers.
Mast's Massive NightRienk Mast put together a strong performance in Nebraska's win against Florida A&M on Nov. 9. The 6-foot-10 forward had game highs of 20 points and 16 rebounds for his first double-double as a Husker.
- He became the first Husker in the Big Ten era (2011-12 to present) to have a game with at least 20 points and 15 rebounds, and the first Husker to do so since All-Big 12 performer Aleks Maric in 2008.
- Since 1990, only six Huskers have had games with at least 20 points and 15 rebounds. That list includes Aleks Maric, Kimani Ffriend, Venson Hamilton, Mikki Moore and Eric Piatkowski.
- Mast’s 16 rebounds were the most by a Husker since Yvan Ouedraogo had 19 rebounds against Northwestern on March 1, 2020, and the second-highest rebound total in Hoiberg’s four-plus seasons at Nebraska.
- Mast is averaging 14.8 ppg while topping the Huskers in both rebounding (10.8 rpg) and assists (3.0 apg).
New Faces, New RolesNebraska made a big splash in the transfer portal, adding five players to the roster, and their impact is already being felt during the early portion of the season. The group of Josiah Allick (New Mexico), Jarron Coleman (Bradley), Rienk Mast (Bradley), Ahron Ulis (Iowa) and Brice Williams (Charlotte) combined for more than 4,300 points, 2,100 rebounds and 800 assists entering this year.
- Mast is averaging 14.8 points per game while leading the Huskers in both rebounds (10.8 rpg) and assists (3.0 apg). He is one of three power conference players as of Nov. 16 averaging at least 10.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Mast currently ranks second in the Big Ten in rebounding and 18th in scoring. The 6-foot-10 forward has been in double figures in all four contests - the only Husker to do so - including a 20-point, 16-rebound effort against Florida A&M.
- Allick has been a force inside, averaging 6.5 points per game on 50 percent shooting and 6.5 rebounds per game. He is second on the team and 15th in the Big Ten in rebounds and is a big reason why the Huskers lead the conference in rebound margin. He is fourth in the Big Ten in offensive rebounds (3.25) as of Nov. 16. Allick has two double-figure efforts in the first three games, including 11 points and eight boards against Lindenwood.
- Williams has started all four contests and is third on the team in scoring (13.0 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (6.0 rpg) while shooting 34 percent from 3-point range. The 6-foot-7 guard has been in double figures three times this season, highlighted by a 17-point, nine-rebound, four-assist effort against Stony Brook on Nov. 15.
- Coleman has come off the bench in all four contests and is second on the team with 2.8 assists per game while also adding 4.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per outing. He has nearly a 1.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Improved Board WorkOne of the areas where Nebraska has made significant improvement is on the boards. The additions of Rienk Mast, Josiah Allick and Brice Williams along with the return of Juwan Gary have made the Huskers formidable on the glass.
- Nebraska has a +13.5 rebound margin through four games to lead the Big Ten. Last season the Huskers were 11th in rebounding margin (-1.0)
- NU had a positive rebound margin (+3.1) prior to Juwan Gary's season-ending injury last January. Gary was second on the team in rebounding (6.5 rpg) and 15th in the Big Ten in that category on Jan. 10. Over the final 16 games of the 2022-23 season, NU was outrebounded by 5.1 rebounds per game.
- Mast (MVC) and Allick (Mountain West) both ranked second in their respective conferences in 2022-23 in rebounding, while Williams was 15th in Conference USA. In addition, Mast led the MVC in rebounding during the 2021-22 season.
- The last time NU has out-rebounded four straight opponents by at least 10 boards was the first four games of the 2004-05 season.
Tominaga Named Preseason All-Big TenNebraska senior guard Keisei Tominaga was honored as one of 10 players selected to the preseason All-Big Ten team. The 10-member team included four unanimous selections: Terrence Shannon (Illinois), Jahmir Young (Maryland), Boo Buie (Northwestern) and Zach Edey (Purdue). Edey, the reigning national player of the year, was tabbed as the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year.
Tominaga became just the third Husker to be named preseason All-Big Ten since Nebraska joined the conference in 2011-12, joining James Palmer Jr. (2018) and Terran Petteway (2014). Last season, he averaged 13.1 points per game on 53 percent shooting, including 40 percent from 3-point range, while appearing in all 32 contests. Tominaga led the Huskers in 3-pointers with 66 and was one of only six players nationally to average double figures and shoot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 85 percent from the foul line.
During Big Ten play, he led NU in scoring at 14.2 ppg to rank 15th in the conference while also ranking among Big Ten leaders in field goal percentage (.512, seventh) and 3-pointers per game (2.3, sixth) as he shot 41 percent from beyond the arc. He had seven of his nine 20-point games during Big Ten contests, including a career-high 30-point effort against Penn State, and added 23 points in NU’s loss to Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament.
Tominaga returned on Monday against Rider and had nine points, including back-to-back 3-pointers after Rider pulled to within a point. His two 3-pointers started a 17-0 spurt that put the game away. He followed up with a 16-point effort in Wednesday's win over Stony Brook.