GAME NOTES: The Nebraska Cornhuskers will take the floor one last time at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Wednesday night, as they host the Minnesota Golden Gophers in Big Ten Conference play.
After 37 seasons at the Devaney Center, this is the final game at the venue for the Cornhuskers, who will move to Pinnacle Bank Arena for the 2013-14 season. They enter the game with losses in four of their last five outings, including a 72-65 setback at Illinois over the weekend. Nebraska will finish up the regular season at Iowa on Saturday.
Minnesota upset top-ranked Indiana last Tuesday and followed that up with a 73-44 rout over Penn State at Williams Arena on Saturday. But the Golden Gophers will now wrap up their schedule with two road games, and they have lost six straight Big Ten games on the road. Following this tilt, they'll meet up with Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana on Saturday.
Minnesota has dominated the series with Nebraska, 51-15, and that includes an 84-65 rout over the Huskers in January.
Minnesota held Penn State scoreless for the first 11 minutes of Saturday's matchup to effectively remove any suspense from the outcome. The Gophers built a 34-12 halftime lead and spent virtually all of the game playing frontrunner. Trevor Mbakwe piled up 13 points and 13 rebounds. Julian Welch tallied 10 points and seven assists, while Rodney Williams finished with 10 points and seven boards. All told, five Golden Gophers scored in double figures. UM also won the rebounding battle, 46-30, and that has been a season-long trend. The Gophers are the top offensive rebounding team in the nation with an average of 15 offensive boards per game. They are +8.8 on the glass for the season, and Mbakwe (10.8 ppg) tops the Big Ten with 8.8 caroms per contest. Andre Hollins leads the team with 13.6 points per game and stretches defenders along the perimeter, where he is a 39-percent shooter.
Unlike their counterpart, the Cornhuskers are -3.5 in rebounding margin. Dylan Talley leads the way with 14.4 ppg to go along with 5.1 rebounds, while Ray Gallegos (12.7 ppg) and Brandon Ubel (11.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg) are also averaging double figures. NU is a limited offensive squad that averages only 58.7 ppg and shoots 40.8 percent from the floor. The Huskers led Illinois by two with six minutes remaining in Saturday's matchup, but the Fighting Illini simply made more plays down the stretch. The loss spoiled the third 20-point game in the last four outings for Talley, who finished with 20 points. Gallegos led the way with 23 thanks to a career-high six 3-pointers. Both teams were successful from beyond the arc, but Illinois ultimately prevailed behind a 35-26 advantage on the boards and some clutch free-throw shooting in the final minutes.
The Cornhuskers would like nothing more than to close down the Devaney Center with a W. However, they are running into a Minnesota team that is currently playing at its highest level of the season.
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