Huskers brace for high-scoring Bruins
Nebraska coach Tim Miles is aware of what is ahead for the Cornhuskers when they face No. 14 UCLA on Friday night, saying, “You got to be ready to go out with guns a-blazing.”
UCLA has plenty of firepower, averaging 104.4 points a game through its 5-0 start. The Bruins face Nebraska in a semifinal game of the Wooden Legacy at Fullerton, Calif., on Friday at 11:59 p.m. ET (ESPN2). The winner advances to the championship game Sunday in Anaheim, Calif.
Nebraska, which beat Dayton 80-78 on Thursday night, allows only 57.8 points a game. The Cornhuskers had eight players play at least 11 minutes. Sophomore guard Glynn Watson Jr. led Nebraska with 20 points, while forward Ed Morrow contributed 19.
“We got just enough out of everybody to win,” Miles said after the game. “(And) nobody's hanging their head about minutes. That's what I really like about the young guys. They're happy for the team. And they'll be ready to go out (Friday) night and attack.”
Nebraska must utilize its bench against a potent UCLA team that should get stronger with the addition of freshman center Ike Anigbogu, who has missed all of the games so far with a knee injury that required surgery a month ago.
Anigobu is a needed component going against Nebraska's physical frontcourt that is allowing the Cornhuskers to outrebound their opponents by an average of 38.8 to 31.3 a game. Morrow, a 6-foot-7, 234-pound sophomore forward, leads Nebraska with an average of seven rebounds a game.
UCLA will combat Morrow and 6-8, 215-pound forward Jack McVeigh (5.8 rebounds a game) with two players who average more than nine rebounds a game. T.J. Leaf, a freshman forward, leads the Bruins with 9.8 rebounds a game, while junior center Thomas Welsh is at 9.4 a game.
The Bruins' ability to rebound fuels fastbreak situations on the other end. Six players scored in double figures in UCLA's 99-77 win over Portland on Thursday night at Fullerton. The Bruins tied a tournament record for points in a game while recording 29 assists and committing only 11 turnovers.
“As a coach, any time you make 36 baskets and get assists on 29 of them, you're happy with that,” said UCLA coach Steve Alford, whose team's wins have been by an average of almost 25 points per game. “These guys like to share the ball, and they don't care who gets the basket as long as we score. We can beat you inside or we can beat you outside.”
UCLA freshman point guard sensation Lonzo Ball finished with 18 points, including four 3-pointers, and 11 assists against Portland. Leaf had 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists, and Welsh added 16 points and 10 rebounds. The Bruins were 14 of 29 (48.3 percent) from 3-point range against the Pilots. They are shooting 46.2 percent from long distance through the first five games.
“It's definitely exciting to play on a team like this,” Welsh said. “We're getting to know each other better every game, and these guards really know how to distribute the ball.”