Rapid Recap: Northwestern 78, Nebraska 63


Daily file photo Esther Lim

Junior guard Ty Berry and senior guard Boo Buie head to the locker room. Berry was a standout in the Wildcats’ win over Nebraska Wednesday, finishing with a career-high in points with 26.

Lawrence Price, Senior Staffer

After a back-and-forth, rugged victory Monday night against Wisconsin, what team wouldn’t love a smoother sailing in the next contest — a win with less difficulty. This is especially true for Northwestern, coming off eight straight days without games due to COVID-19, and its top two scorers, senior guard Boo Buie and redshirt senior guard Chase Audige playing 37 and 39 minutes, respectively, less than two days ago.

Yet, Nebraska had other plans, making it difficult for the Wildcats to see the light at the end of the tunnel — keeping it a three possession game for nearly the entire first half. However, NU decided not to recreate Monday night’s down to the wire plot in the second half, leaving the Cornhuskers in the dust, and securing their fifth conference win of the season, 78-63.

Although the Cats went on a ten point run to close out the first half, the two squads were battling for the first 15 minutes. With five minutes remaining, the two groups were neck-in-neck, mainly because of the teams’ third scoring options — junior guard Ty Berry and Nebraska guard Keisi Tominaga. 

The two went bucket-for-bucket from the jump, as Berry tallied NU’s first three of four baskets, compared to Tominaga’s first five for Nebraska. Tominaga’s impact was a pivotal jump starter for the Cornhuskers offense, scoring inside and outside the arc, eventually leading to a 9-0 run and three-point lead for Nebraska with eight minutes left in the half. Out of his 22 points, 15 came in the first 20 minutes.

Berry’s motor was also at 110 percent in the first half, going five-for-five from deep and pick-and-roll alley-oop to junior center Matt Nicholson that shut down the Cornhuskers 9-0 run. Berry didn’t need to play the entire 20 minutes to drop 21 points, the most in a half since former forward Pete Nance did in 2021.

And if anything changed after the break, it was the Cats turning the volume up on offense. While Nebraska continued to search for their groove again on offense, NU expanded their lead up to 23 points with a little less than 13 minutes to go. The Cornhuskers attempted a comeback as the game continued, cutting the deficit to 12 at one point, but due to the trio of Buie, Audige, and Berry, who combined for 29 in the last 20 minutes, 58 for the game, that was the closest they could go. 


  • Northwestern capitalizes on its height advantage in Lincoln

Unlike most matchups where NU is the smaller team height-wise, the Cornhuskers gave the Cats an opportunity to take advantage of their size, as their tallest starter was 6’9 in Derrick Walker. 

With a 7’0 Nicholson and 6’9 senior forward Robbie Beran in their starting lineup, coach Collins made use of the physical upper hand. In result, Nebraska had a tough time scoring at or near the rim, whereas the Cats outrebounded them 35-23 by the final buzzer, and Nicholson having the time of his life in the paint finishing multiple alley oops. Walker, on the other hand, tied his second lowest points total of the season with seven points, and five turnovers.

NU has consistently proven to have a strong defensive unit using their small ball lineup, where Beran is the tallest out of the five. But, this matchup allowed them to hone this untapped skill that will be needed as the season continues.

  • Sometimes…what’s on the outside (perimeter shooting) is more important than what’s the inside…right?

No, this isn’t about beauty, it’s about three-point shooting. Without much scoring in the paint throughout the first half, Nebraska was only able to stay in the contest because of two things — Keisi Tominaga and three-point shooting. Alongside Tominaga’s 15 points in the first, there was a point where the Cornhuskers were five-for-five from deep, leading coach Collins and NU’s much needed timeout with a little over eight minutes to go until the break.

However, as Nebraska’s hot hand cooled off coming out the break, the Cats were beginning to catch fire. Jogging into the locker rooms, not only was NU sitting pretty, but their last seven buckets were from deep — an 8 for 15 clip. By the end of the blowout contest, the deep shot proved to be pivotal, as NU shot 11 for 30 from deep, including a season-high of 51.8 percent from the field. Although this wasn’t a back and forth game, with much conference play still to go, deep shot-making could be a difference maker.

  • Two words. Ty Berry. 

After sophomore guard Julian Roper II’s injury in the first half against Wisconsin, the depth at the third-guard position got slimmer. And after Berry’s injury in the second, it looked even worse. Luckily for the Cats, Berry returned to and finished the game later in the half — a major sigh of relief for the program and Cats’ fans worldwide.

And what’s better than that? His performance less than two days later. The Kansas sniper shot the lights out of Pinnacle Bank Arena, racking up 21 points in the first half, 26 by the final horn. This was a major positive for the Wildcats, combating the Cornhuskers hot shooting out the gate, and chance for NU’s top scorers in Buie and Audige to take a breather on the offensive end. After Berry combined five points in the last two contests prior to Wednesday, his bounce back performance couldn’t have come at a better time. Safe to say that his ankle is all good to go.

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