LINCOLN — In Nebraska’s most recent men’s basketball game against Wake Forest, center Andre Almeida posted career highs in scoring (20) and rebounds (11).
But the 6-foot-11, 330-pound senior faces a tall task to hit those numbers again Monday night against USC (3-3).
The Trojans’ starting center is 7-foot, 255-pound junior Dewayne Dedmon. His raw athleticism is the reason six NBA scouts are scheduled to visit the Devaney Center at 7 p.m.
Dedmon, who didn’t play basketball until his senior year of high school per his family’s religious beliefs, averages 6.7 points and 7.7 rebounds. The website nbadraft.net projects him as a second-round pick in its 2013 NBA mock draft.
The backup is 7-2, 270-pound Omar Oraby, a transfer who played 34 games at Rice. And if more inside help is needed, the next center off the bench is 7-1, 260-pound James Blasczyk.
That makes USC the only other team in Division I besides Florida State to have three 7-footers.
“They are very strong in post defense, and that kind of worries me,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “We’ve been able to go in there on people. When we can establish that inside thing and then throw in a few outside shots, we’ve been all right.”
Points will be hard to come by if recent results from this series hold up.
Nebraska (5-1) has beaten USC three straight seasons by a total of eight points with no team scoring more than 64. The scores: 51-48 in 2009; 60-58 in 2010; and 64-61 in double overtime in 2011.
Trojans coach Kevin O’Neill is a defensive stickler, as current Nebraska assistant Ben Johnson can attest. Johnson played for O’Neill at Northwestern. In a 1999 game between Nebraska and Northwestern, Johnson had 18 points and five rebounds but the Huskers won 61-52.
USC this season has an overtime win against Texas and losses to Illinois, Marquette and No. 25 San Diego State.
“They expect a big year, but I don’t think they like where they are at,” Miles said. “They have struggled offensively. They are defensively strong.”
Nebraska has an injury concern with freshman point guard Benny Parker. Miles said Sunday that the 5-9 freshman got “knocked in the head’’ in practice, but likely will play. The Huskers will get freshman wing Shavon Shields (elbow) back Monday.
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