(Photo credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports)
A pair of power-conference teams projected to finish near the bottom of their respective leagues bring perfect records to Sioux Falls, S.D., on Saturday afternoon as Nebraska faces Oregon State.
Nebraska (4-0) is off to its best start in five years after winning four home games by an average of 23.5 points. The most recent win, 84-63 over Stony Brook on Wednesday, saw the Cornhuskers move closer to full strength with the return of forward Juwan Gary from suspension.
"He just brings so much," Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said of Gary, who tied a career high with 19 points. "He has every intangible you can bring to a team when he goes on the floor."
The Cornhuskers also recently got back guard Keisei Tominaga from an ankle injury but are still missing multiple players expected to be in the rotation.
Oregon State is 3-0 for the second straight year after winning only three games in 2021-22, but it hasn't been easy. The Beavers' past two games have gone to overtime, and they beat Appalachian State 81-71 on Tuesday after outlasting Troy in two OTs on Nov. 10.
"We've got our culture back and when we have our kind of culture and we're healthy we do good things," OSU coach Wayne Tinkle said after the Appalachian State win.
Guard Jordan Pope is leading the Beavers in scoring at 19 points per game, including a career-high 25 last time out, while forward Tyler Bilodeau is nearly averaging a double-double at 15 points and 9.3 rebounds.
Nebraska does have a player averaging double-double in forward Rienk Mast, who is at 14.8 points and 10.8 rebounds.
Defense should play a big role in this matchup as Nebraska is limiting foes to 32.8 percent shooting (eighth in Division I) and Oregon State is holding opponents to 34.8 percent shooting (23rd in Division I).
A win for Oregon State would make it 4-0 for the first time since 2015-16, while Nebraska is looking for its first 5-0 start since 2008-09.
Oregon State is 6-4 all-time against Nebraska, though the teams haven't met since the 2009-10 season.
--Field Level Media