LINCOLN — Considering recent results, it looks like a difficult matchup for the Nebraska men’s basketball team Saturday at the Devaney Center against Northwestern.
The Huskers (10-10, 1-6) have lost three straight Big Ten games at home by 6, 9 and 20 points, respectively.
The Wildcats (12-8, 3-4) are 5-1 away from home, including a win at Baylor. The only loss was three weeks ago to then-No. 9 Minnesota, a setback they avenged Wednesday night to the now-No. 12 Gophers 55-48.
With Nebraska’s struggles at home yet strong efforts on the road, coach Tim Miles said Friday he considered housing his team at a hotel in Lincoln the night before games.
“But I’m not going to go down that path,” he said. “Then you start a precedent. Eventually, they’ve got to help themselves out.
“How long do you pamper them and hold their hand? Pretty soon, you’ve got to grow up and get yourself ready.”
Senior forward Brandon Ubel said that’s been the message since Tuesday’s 71-51 home loss to Illinois — a team Northwestern handled on the road by 14 points nine days ago.
“It’s something that individually we need to look at what we’re doing the night before, the day before, the morning of,” he said. “On the road, as coach told us, they can keep our schedule.
“At home, we can do our own thing. But that leaves the onus on us to get focused.”
Ubel is no party animal the night before a home game.
“I hang out at my apartment, watch a little bit of TV, make sure I go to sleep at a reasonable hour, drink a lot of water and watch what I’m eating,” he said. “I told other guys if you’re not doing something similar, we’ve got to change that.”
Miles said he hasn’t seen or heard of “anything devious or crazy” from his players before home games. He just wants them ready to function at a high level when the ball is tipped.
“You have to take pride in your program and plant your feet and let people know you actually stand for something,” Miles said. “I didn’t think we did any of that against Illinois.
“I know it’s a grind. I hear Minnesota talking about the same thing — no energy. You get kind of the blues in January. This isn’t mutually exclusive to Husker basketball.”
Northwestern has been giving opponents the blues lately with its Princeton-style offense and 1-3-1 zone defense. Both systems make preparation more difficult because they aren’t commonly seen.
“They prey on any weakness,” Miles said. “They prey on any lack of discipline. They’re going to prey on lack of effort because they are going to grind the entire shot clock.
“I love preparing for it because it’s like a testament of willpower. It will be a good test of where we stand in that regard.”
Contact the writer: