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Feb 24, 2024 2:22 pm

Minnesota, Nebraska out to polish tournament credentials

Keisei Tominaga Minnesota

A pair of Big Ten teams will try to improve their NCAA Tournament resumes when Minnesota tips off against Nebraska on Sunday evening in Lincoln, Neb.

Nebraska (19-8, 9-7) has won three games in a row, including a pair of home contests against Michigan and Penn State and a road game against Indiana. The Cornhuskers are one victory away from securing their first 20-win season since the 2017-18 campaign.

They will try to do so against Minnesota (17-9, 8-7), which also is enjoying a resurgent season. The Golden Gophers’ next win would double their total of nine from a season ago, and they are within range of their first 20-plus win season since 2018-19.

Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg praised his team for its work ethic after its latest win.

“This is the time of year you want to play your best,” Hoiberg said. “We’re coming off three really good performances right now. Two home games and found a way to get a huge road win.

“The struggles are obviously well-documented for our team. We got a great win against Kansas State in the (nonconference schedule) on the road, (and) then to get this one (against Indiana) was huge. It was big for our confidence to know we can do it.”

Minnesota is feeling similarly confident under coach Ben Johnson. The Golden Gophers are coming off back-to-back wins at home against Rutgers and Ohio State.

Elijah Hawkins scored a career-high 24 points in the latest win over Ohio State. Dawson Garcia added 22 points and nine rebounds, and Pharrel Payne chipped in 15 points.

“We understand what goes into winning,” Garcia said. “How it’s just all the little things, each and every day. Not taking any day and rep for granted. It all matters.”

Nebraska is led in scoring by Keisei Tominaga, who is averaging 14.4 points on 46.2 percent shooting from the field. Rienk Mast is second in scoring with 13.0 points per game, and he leads the team with an average of 7.9 rebounds.

This is the second and final meeting of the regular season between the programs. Minnesota stormed back from a 15-point halftime deficit to win the first matchup 76-65 on Dec. 6 in Minneapolis.

–Field Level Media

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