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Nebraska basketball hits reset button with hot start in conference play

Posted at 4:56 PM, Jan 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-04 17:58:17-05

The Nebraska basketball team didn't have quite the start it wanted to during its non-conference schedule. While the schedule featured a couple of back-to-back top ten games against in-state rival Creighton and Kansas, the Huskers also dropped a close one to Clemson and suffered a head-scratching home loss to Gardner-Webb.

Following the 70-62 loss to Gardner-Webb, the Huskers came away with just a five-point win over Southern at home. Nebraska Head Coach Tim Miles said he started to see the improvement in his team during that game.

"I'm not going to apologize for Southern," Miles said. "I thought we played pretty good, and when you're in a slump, it's not easy to get out of it...I felt like we had progress that day, and that fed into a good Christmas coming back."

The Huskers suffered yet another setback when junior guard Anton Gill went down with a season-ending knee injury during practice prior to it's conference play opener against Indiana. 

"That really shook the team," Miles said. "Going to Indiana, I think the guys were a little down almost because of Anton, because you could tell immediately that it was a severe injury, but at the same time we had good, hard practices."

Then, Nebraska hit the reset button on the road in one of the toughest environments to play in in the Big Ten. The Huskers scrapped out a tough 87-83 win over Indiana before heading to Maryland and taking down the Terrapins 87-85.

Miles said if you had told him the team was going to go 2-0 in those road games, he would not have believed it, but he knew his team needed to at least win one of them.

Now, the Huskers sit atop the Big Ten standings as one of the three unbeaten teams in the conference along with Michigan State and No. 13 Wisconsin. With the recent success, one thing Miles said he has to keep an eye on is an issue with overconfidence.

"I don't care who you are, with young people, you worry about losing too much, you worry about winning too much, you get paid to worry," Miles said. "They want to win, they want to do well, so I don't think they think they are anything other than what they are."

Sophomore forward Michael Jacobson said he understands that the team needs to take the rest of the season one game at a time. 

"We've got to be focused, we've got to be locked in, we can't be overconfident," Jacobson said. "Those were two good wins on the road obviously, but again, it's only two wins. We've got 16 games left in the conference. There's a lot ahead of us and a lot of work to still be done."

Nebraska will try to keep things rolling when the Iowa Hawkeyes come to Pinnacle Bank Arena Thursday night. The Hawkeyes are coming off an 86-83 win over conference opponent Michigan. With the recent success on the road, sophomore guard Glynn Watson Jr. said he fully understands the importance of taking care of business at home during Big Ten play.

"We got two big road wins, but we have got to come here and protect our home court," Watson said. "We've got two big games also against Iowa and Northwestern so we've got to take care of business here too."

Nebraska will take on Iowa in Pinnacle Bank Arena Thursday at 8:00 p.m. The game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network. Following the matchup with Iowa, Northwestern comes to Lincoln Sunday at 1:15 p.m.