BY BILL HORD
Special to The Advocate
November 25, 2012
LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska’s 6-feet-11 senior Brandon Ubel took charge early in the second half Sunday to help Nebraska pull away to a 66-55 men’s college basketball victory over Southern University.
After trailing by only six at halftime, the Jaguars began to wear down under the Huskers’ height advantage. Ubel scored nine of Nebraska’s first 11 points of the half as the Jaguars’ Javan Mitchell collected his second, third and fourth fouls.
It was after the 6-9 Mitchell went to the bench that Nebraska began to extend its lead. A three-point play by Ubel with about 10 minutes to go gave Nebraska a 16-point lead, its largest of the night.
The Jaguars did not whither, but they never got closer than eight points.
“We couldn’t get over the hump,” second-year Southern coach Roman Banks said. “We didn’t play bad, and we didn’t play great.”
It was the second of six road games for the Jaguars. They will stay on the road for a three-day tournament in Laramie, Wyo., starting Wednesday.
The road trip and games against Big 12 and Big Ten teams are designed to get his team ready for success, Banks said.
“We want to learn to be one of the better teams in our league,” Banks said. “We want to learn to win these games.”
By playing good teams, Banks said, the speed of the game will begin to settle in with his team. He said expects Mitchell to improve playing against taller, experienced players like Ubel.
“He’ll get better,” Banks said. Same is true of leading scorer Derick Beltran, who had 17 points on the heels of his 26-point game in last week’s loss to Iowa State.
“We’re just learning how to go out and fight,” Beltran said. “Individually we’re fine, but we have to come further as a team.”
The Jaguars started their second game the way they left off in the opening loss to Iowa State, lagging badly in rebounding and going cold in streaks.
Nebraska took a 9-0 lead before Mitchell hit two free throws. The Huskers led by 10 at 12-2 before senior Jameel Grace hit Southern’s first field goal, a 3-pointer with more than five minutes gone.
But the Jaguars scrapped to stay within six, 31-25, at halftime. Mitchell, a 6-9 junior, battled NU’s two 6-11 post men, collecting two baskets in the paint to narrow the Husker lead to eight with 2:30 left in the half.
Then 6-6 Malcolm Miller snagged one of only two first-half offensive rebounds for the Jaguars with 1:50 remaining, putting the ball back for an easy two-pointer and getting Southern to within six for the first time in seven minutes.
Mitchell led first-half scoring with eight and then did not score in the second half after sitting for nearly 12 minutes with foul trouble. In the first half, Ubel’s scoring was limited to four points.
Nebraska’s other 6-11 starter, 320-pound Andre Almeida, scored only two points and had only two rebounds in 19 minutes. Beltran scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half. Banks said the 6-4 senior is growing in has role as a scorer.
“In junior college, he only averaged about six points a game,” Banks said. “He was a role player.”
The Jaguars hope to find out Monday whether the NCAA will grant another year of eligibility to fifth-year senior Brandon Moore. Southern needs Moore’s size to provide another big body to battle for the Jaguars under the basket, Banks said.
The Jaguars wear down as the game progresses against teams with more depth among taller players. The Huskers got 33 minutes from 6-11 Ubel, 19 minutes for 6-11 Almeida, and one minute from 7-1 Sergej Vucetic.
In the end, Nebraska scored 32 points in the paint compared with 20 for Southern.
The game was the first for the Huskers under new coach Tim Miles, who had previously coached at Colorado State. Nebraska was picked to finish last in the Big 10 in a preseason poll.