LINCOLN — And you thought the Nebraska men’s basketball team was offensively challenged.
Penn State, NU’s opponent Saturday night at the Devaney Center, has posted some hide-your-eyes numbers of its own. Out of 347 schools nationally, the Nittany Lions (8-14, 0-10) rank:
Ľ308th in scoring offense (60.7 points).
Ľ333rd in field-goal shooting (38.5 percent).
Ľ341st in 3-point shooting (26.8 percent).
Once in 22 games has PSU made more shots than it missed. That came Dec. 8 against Army (29 makes, 28 misses for 50.9 percent). The Nittany Lions are coming off a 58-49 home loss to Purdue in which they shot 30.6 percent from the field, including 10 percent on 3s (2 for 20).
Nebraska (11-12, 2-8) hardly has bragging rights in offensive productivity.
The Huskers are 334th in scoring (58.7), 258th in field-goal shooting (41.5) and 300th in 3-point shooting (30.1 percent).
At least NU has an upward trend line.
In the past three games, the Huskers have shot 44.6 percent from the field and 36.2 percent from 3-point range — a fact that coach Tim Miles wasn’t sure Friday he could explain.
“Maybe it was inevitable,” he said.
Miles said the offense has been “tweaked” lately to create situations in which Nebraska drives to the basket, which he terms “getting downhill.”
The lineup changes that the Huskers made about a month ago — Dylan Talley from off guard to point guard, with Shavon Shields and David Rivers on the wings — also are paying off.
“The guys are meshing better than ever,” Miles said. “We still can get inconsistent performance, which you do anytime you are injecting guys who are new to that role.”
Senior forward Brandon Ubel said the offensive adjustments that lead to slashing to the basket fit the reconfigured lineup, noting: “We’re finally starting to click as a unit.”
Nebraska already has defeated Penn State 68-64, a game in which the Nittany Lions missed five consecutive free throws in the final 25 seconds at home.
“It was really a fight the first time,” Rivers said. “We’ll have to fight even harder this time.”
Especially since Penn State might see this as one of its few remaining chances to avoid an 0-fer in Big Ten play. Miles once went 0-16 in the Mountain West Conference at Colorado State, so he knows what PSU coach Patrick Chambers is going through.
“It’s a long, disheartening process,” Miles said. “But Pat’s got a great attitude and his team has got a great attitude. They have been highly competitive, in my eyes.
“They are young. And their best player (All-Big Ten guard Tim Frazier) is injured. So they are in a tough spot, but they are going to look at this and say, ‘Hey, we owe these guys one.’”
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