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Rapid Reaction: Nebraska 53, Northwestern 49

1. About the offense...

Over the past few games, Northwestern's offense had shown signs of life. The Wildcats scored over one point per possession against Minnesota — the first time the team had been that efficient since December against Mississippi Valley State — and played pretty well in the win over Wisconsin. However, until the last few minutes, it was terrible against Nebraska.

It wasn't just the missed open shots that plagued NU. The spacing, in particular, was as bad as it has been all year. The players all bunched up on the perimeter, throwing bad passes and hoisting up threes. That's bad any day, but especially against a Nebraska team that has a terrible frontcourt. Why wasn't NU posting up Crawford? Why wasn't Olah posting up? The offensive strategy has to be better — you can't just rely on defense.

2. This is a really bad loss

Nebraska isn't that bad of a team. Tim Miles has the Huskers playing pretty well this year, and it's certainly an improvement over Nebraska's first two seasons in the Big Ten. However, the Huskers have been terrible on the road, especially in conference play, and picked up their first conference win in this game. You'd expect Nebraska to win when the teams meet in Lincoln, but if NU is to have any NIT hopes, "should-wins" can't be losses. There's also this, referencing Nebraska's offensive performance in the first half:

It's great to be a good defensive team, but that doesn't mean you can ignore your terrible offense. For NU to get better, the offense simply has to improve, and it definitely can't be this bad against a pedestrian defensive team like Nebraska.

3. Great environment

You could make a case that this was the best environment at a Northwestern basketball game since the 2011-12 season. The student section was packed for the first time since the Eastern Illinois game to open the season, and the rest of the crowd was really into it as well. Most packed houses at Welsh-Ryan have a lot of opposing fans, but this time, it was mostly purple. And for the few minutes when NU was actually competent on offense. It's cool to see what winning can do to the program, but after a deflating loss like this one, you have to wonder if an atmosphere like this one will return this season.