Nebraska basketball vs. UC Riverside, 11.5

Nebraska’s Jervay Green (23) drives inside against UC Riverside on Tuesday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Remember the scene in the movie "Major League" when Pedro Cerrano wants to sacrifice a chicken in the locker room to try and break out of his hitting slump?

It might be time for something like that over at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Tuesday's 66-47 loss to UC Riverside continued a trend that has befallen the Huskers for just about all of 2019. Since Jan. 10, when Nebraska played its first game of the new year against Penn State, the Huskers are shooting a lower percentage from the field at home than they are on the road.

To be clear, the Huskers haven't exactly lit it up anywhere they've played. But in 11 home games in 2019, NU is shooting 38.1% from the field and 31% from three-point range. In 13 games away from Lincoln, the Huskers are shooting 41.5% from the floor and 30.9% from three.

Is there some mystical force that places lids on the PBA rims just before Nebraska tips off? Is there some greater being in the universe hell-bent on making sure NU misses shots in every conceivable manner?

Of course not. And coach Fred Hoiberg probably isn't planning on bringing any live fowl into Nebraska's locker room anytime soon.

But it's still a bizarre statistic involving a program that has had its share of bizarre over the past several years.

"Confidence is a funny thing in this game. When you have it, that rim seems like the ocean. When not, that thing seems like a little thimble up there," Hoiberg said Tuesday night. "We went 1-for-2 I think our first five or six trips to the stripe, then we missed some good open looks, then that carried over the restricted area. Again, I’m confident we’ll get those things going, we’ll adjust, we’ll get back to work."

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Tuesday's game encapsulated Nebraska's struggles. The Huskers hit six of their first seven shots against the Highlanders. Then they missed 38 of their last 48. NU made just six field goals in the second half, and shot 29% for the game.

Before that Penn State game in January, Nebraska had won 19 straight games in PBA. NU squeaked out a win over the Nittany Lions to get to 20, while shooting 49% from the floor.

Since that night, Nebraska is 4-6 at home and has scored fewer than 50 points (twice) almost as many times as it's scored 70 or more (three times). Two of those wins could be classified as miracle finishes: a 62-61 win over Minnesota in which James Palmer made two free throws with 1.1 seconds left, and the 93-91 overtime win over Iowa in which the Huskers rallied from a nine-point deficit with 47 seconds to go in regulation.

The Huskers have shot 30% or less at home just as often as they've shot 50% or better (three times each). NU has had three home games in 2019 in which it's made fewer than 20 field goals, including Tuesday night. On the road, the Huskers have made at least 21 field goals in all 13 of their games, and made at least 23 in 11 of the 13.

Of course, more made field goals hasn't equated to more road success. Nebraska has been outscored by an average of 3.8 points per game in its 2019 home games. In the 13 road games, that number jumps to about 7.1 points per game and Nebraska's record is 3-10.

Is there a greater meaning behind all those numbers? Probably not, other than how they provide a look into what Hoiberg was hired to fix. 

Nebraska is broken offensively. And turning the Huskers into a well-oiled machine won't happen overnight.

"You have to try and take it one possession at a time. I know that’s a cliché in all sports, but that’s the reality of the situation when you dig yourself a hole like we did," Hoiberg said Tuesday. "You have to go one possession at a time, you can’t go out there and press, and you have to go out there and trust what you’ve been doing, and what we’ve been doing as far as building those habits up, and then hopefully it’s second nature."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or cbasnett@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.


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