Published Tuesday, December 3, 2013 at 8:22 pm / Updated at 8:50 pm
BASKETBALL
Huskers counting on Pitchford's post presence against Miami
Miami (Fla.) at Nebraska
When: 8:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln
TV: ESPNU
Radio: 1110 AM KFAB

Starters

NEBRASKA (5-2)
F Walter Pitchford, 6-10, So., 8.4
F David Rivers, 6-7, Jr., 3.1
F Shavon Shields, 6-7, So., 12.4
G Terran Petteway, 6-6, So., 16.0
G Tai Webster, 6-4, Fr., 9.0

MIAMI (5-3)
F Donnavan Kirk, 6-9, Sr., 10.3
F James Kelly, 6-7, Jr., 9.9
G Garrius Adams, 6-6, Sr., 11.8
G Rion Brown, 6-6, Sr., 12.4
G Davon Reed, 6-6, Fr., 9.4

Notes

Ľ Miami, which arrived in Lincoln from Los Angeles on Monday afternoon, is wrapping up a 10-day road trip of nearly 5,000 miles.
Ľ The Hurricanes have played three overtime games, and three others decided by five points or less.
Ľ Miami's Jim Larranaga was the consensus national coach of the year last season.
Ľ Some tickets are available for the game at $7 and $15.

LINCOLN — One year of basketball at the University of Florida wasn't enough for Walter Pitchford to embrace that school's rivalry with Miami.

But there are other reasons for the sophomore transfer to get charged up Wednesday night playing for Nebraska (5-2) against the Hurricanes (5-3).

First, the game is part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on ESPNU.

“Every game, you've got to go out and be motivated,” Pitchford said. “Even if there is a little crowd, you have to go out with high intensity. But it's always fun to play on ESPN. Hopefully there are more of those.”

Another reason to play hard is to wipe away the residue from Saturday's lackluster 63-58 home win over Northern Illinois.

“It's always good to get the 'W,' ” he said. “At the same time, we were learning from our mistakes right after that game.”

Wednesday night, look for the spotlight to find Pitchford.

Against a Miami lineup in which the shortest starter is 6-foot-6, the 6-10 forward will key the Huskers' interior defense, which struggled as NU gave up 96 points to Massachusetts and 87 to UAB.

“We're getting better,” Pitchford said. “The coaches are making sure we're getting after it and correcting things.”

Miami, the defending ACC champion, has no returning starters from its 29-7 Sweet 16 team. There are eight scholarship newcomers. Nebraska has seven.

The Hurricanes opened the season with an overtime loss to St. Francis of Brooklyn and an overtime win over Georgia Southern. But they are coming off a 2-1 showing in the Wooden Legacy with wins over Arizona State and Cal-State Fullerton.

“They've struggled scoring a little bit, but they've fine-tuned what they are doing,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “They have more of an identity and are going inside a lot more.”

And the Huskers?

“We're weak inside,” Miles said. “We're at least one big guy short. We knew this going in. It just depends on how you solve the problem.”

That brings us back to Pitchford, who despite his height has played more on the perimeter in his career than inside.

“Walt is trying,” Miles said. “It's not a mindset for him. We're playing him out of position, but we need him to take one for the team.”

Pitchford hasn't squawked.

“If it's helping the team, I'm going to do it,” he said. “Me playing the 5 creates mismatches. I'm working on being more physical. I'm starting to get more rebounds and making sure I'm an overall guy, not just one-dimensional.”

Pitchford and 6-8 Leslee Smith could play more together, Miles said, as he plans to juggle lineup combinations for a better blend of offense and defense.

Contact the writer: Lee Barfknecht

lee.barfknecht@owh.com    |   402-444-1024    |  

Lee Barfknecht has won nine national writing awards from four separate organizations, and is a 12-time winner of the Nebraska sportswriter of the year award. He covers Big Ten football and basketball, Nebraska basketball and other college financial issues for The World-Herald.

PHOTO GALLERY AND VIDEO »

 

< >
SPOTLIGHT »
2013 college football preview
View our 2013 college football preview, a 26-page, three-part section filled with coverage of the Huskers, Big Ten conference and more.
Big Red Bowl Retrospective
See complete historical results, game recaps and photo coverage from the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football bowl game appearances, from the 1941 Rose Bowl up to today.
Big Ten football recruits
The World-Herald's Big Ten recruiting database contains every football recruit that signed with a Big Ten school from 2002 to 2011, complete with color-coded interactive map representations, player information, high-concentrations recruiting clusters and more.
Devaney Center timeline
Check out a World-Herald timeline to see the evolution of memorable moments at the Devaney Center, complete with photos, videos, memorable quotes and more.
Follow OWHbigred on Twitter
Looking for the latest Husker sports news from The Omaha World-Herald and Omaha.com? Follow us on Twitter!
Husker scholarship distribution chart
Want to see how many scholarships NU has invested at each position? Wondering how the Huskers have appropriated their offers by class? Check out our handy chart to look further into how Bo Pelini has built his team.
Husker Signing Day 2013
The World-Herald's top-notch coverage of the Nebraska football's class of 2013, complete with videos, photos, articles, live recruit interviews, interactive components and more.
Husker turnovers: A slippery slope
Bo Pelini has coached 68 games at Nebraska. When NUís turnover margin is positive or even, the Huskers are 35-2. When they lose the turnover battle, theyíre 13-18. Why hasnít Nebraska joined the nationís elite? More than anything, itís turnovers.
Interactive: Bo Pelini's contract
View an interactive PDF of Pelini's revised contract signed by the NU football coach, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Darin Erstad's contract (2012)
View an interactive PDF of NU baseball coach Darin Erstad's contract released in August 2012, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Tim Miles' contract
View an interactive PDF of Tim Miles' contract signed by the Nebraska men's basketball coach on May 4, 2012, complete with brief legal explanations, comparisons to other Big Ten coaches and more.
Omaha.com's Big Ten coverage
Delivering the best news coverage and analysis of the Big Ten Conference, from Omaha.com and other top news outlets from around country.
Husker Recruiting: Changes shrink NU's sphere of influence
For decades, the Great Plains represented fertile recruiting ground for Tom Osborne's football program. Restoring that lost tradition won't be easy.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Tokyo Sushi
$5 for $10 or $10 for $20 toward All-You-Can-Eat Sushi Purchase
Buy Now
BRT ON TWITTER »
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT »
< >