Minnesota hosts Nebraska tonight at 5 p.m. at Williams Arena. Listen live on 1500-a.m. or watch on Big Ten Network.
Five things to watch as the Gophers face the Huskers for the second time in four games:
Please, better basketball. Unfortunately, it hasn't been long enough since the last bout with Nebraska -- just over a week ago, in Lincoln -- for that memory to fade. That 52-49 loss featured 41 fouls, 31 turnovers and each team went through a stretch in which it didn't hit a basket from the field for seven minutes or more. You can call it good defense if you like (and Minnesota coach Richard Pitino did), but the truth is it was sloppy, with many of the turnovers unforced and as generally snooze-inducing as such a close game can be. The loyal Barn attendees don't deserve that.
Help for Andre. In the last four games, senior guard Andre Hollins, is averaging 24.3 points and 5.3 rebounds a game while shooting 55.9 percent from the field and 58.8 percent from three-point range. Meanwhile, in the last three games, the rest of the starting five -- Carlos Morris, DeAndre Mathieu, Mo Walker and Joey King -- are combining to shoot just 34.5 percent. That's not going to work -- as evidence by the two losses in that span. And if the Gophers want to push past Nebraska this time? They'll need more.
End-of-game attitude. Minnesota, for all the times its flubbed last-minute scenarios -- from missing free throws, to careless turning over the ball and fouling to simply missing shots -- is running out of ways to explain the mishaps. For the most part this year, the questions have been met by shrugs, not because the coaches and players aren't being forthcoming but because they seem genuinely flummoxed. On Friday, Pitino threw out another idea: his guys are playing scared and aren't looking for the ball at the end of games. Not so hard to believe considering the Gophers have now lost six of their seven conference games by one or two possessions. But if they keep playing like that, it probably solidifies the trend continuing.
Minnesota zone. Nebraska is coming off 58-44 loss at Michigan in which it looked clueless against the Wolverines' 2-3 and 1-3-1 zones. In general, the Huskers have struggled against zone defenses, including vs. the Gophers in Lincoln -- but Minnesota played some man-to-man in that game as well. The Gophers' zone improvement is really the mildly bright spot for a defense that has been slightly better than last year, but still lackluster. Minnesota would be served well to use it to its advantage.
Petteway and Shields. The dynamic duo is coming off a down night in Ann Arbor. Leading scorer Terran Petteway went just 1-for-11 in that one while Shavon Shields (second leading scorer) managed 14 points, but went 4-for-12. Will the pair rebound in Minneapolis? In their home matchup vs. the Gophers, Petteway put up 11 and Sheilds led with 15, but they combined to shoot just 36.3 percent from the field.