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Nebraska prepares for South Carolina State with Rienk Mast still out

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Nebraska has been building momentum heading toward January, and the Cornhuskers have a good chance to continue that trend Friday night in Lincoln, Neb.

The visiting team will be South Carolina State, which serves as Nebraska’s final nonconference opponent of the season.

Nebraska (10-2) holds a three-game winning streak by defeating Michigan State, Kansas State and North Dakota. It matches the team’s best 12-game record in five years.

“We’re in a pretty solid place right now,” Nebraska guard Jamarques Lawrence said. “I think we can get better defensively with our principles and stuff like that.”

Nebraska will play its second game since 6-foot-10 forward Rienk Mast had knee surgery that’s expected to keep him out until January.

“It definitely changes things,” Cornhuskers coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You got guys playing different positions than they have been playing. Rienk obviously has been as good as anybody we have on the floor for us, especially in those two wins against Michigan State and Kansas State.”

The Cornhuskers are aware that they’ll need widespread contributions to make up for Mast’s absence. He has averaged 13 points and a team-high 9.9 rebounds per game.

“I think it’s just next-man-up mentality,” guard C.J. Wilcher said. “It’s the game of basketball, people get hurt, people may have rough nights. Everybody is going to get an opportunity at some point and time, you just have to be ready to take advantage of those opportunities when they present themselves.”

South Carolina State (4-10) has gone through an array of challenging road games, including losses to Pitt and UNC Asheville. Most recently, the Bulldogs defeated visiting NAIA member Brewton-Parker 101-84 with Davion Everett scoring 21 points off the bench. Half of the team’s victories are against non-Division I competition.

The Bulldogs, who are coached by Erik Martin, will be facing two power-conference opponents in three days. South Carolina State concludes its rugged road swing Sunday at Oklahoma State. After that, the Bulldogs will enter Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play.

In half of Nebraska’s games, the Cornhuskers have connected on 10 or more 3-point shots. South Carolina State has made just 27.9 percent of its 3-point attempts, checking in with fewer than five successful 3-pointers per game.

–Field Level Media

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