North Texas Eagles (1-0 SU) at Nebraska Cornhuskers (1-0 SU, 0-1 ATS, 0-1 O/U)
The Grant McCasland era started off strong after a 122-65 win over a non-Division I team in Eureka on Friday. McCasland, a former Arkansas State coach, will rely on sophomores and transfers to improve a team that went 8-22 last season. Nebraska struggled in their opening to get by Eastern Illinois, 72-68 at home. The Cornhuskers also have several key players they must replace with transfers.
Smart sparks Mean Green in opener
There’s not much you can take by beating a Division III team in your opener. But when you’re North Texas, you can use this game to see if your team is ready to play. They certainly were, especially juco transfer Roosevelt Smart, who scored 21 points to lead the Mean Green on 8-of-10 shooting (3-4 3pt). Smart is a 6-3 sophomore guard who averaged 18.8 points per game at New Mexico Junior College last season. Freshman guard Umoja Gibson also was known as a shooter in high school and provided 19 points on 4-9 three-point shooting in the opener.
The Mean Green went with three guards in the opener including a returning starter in Ryan Wooldridge, who scored 19 points, grabbed seven boards and dished out four assists against Eureka. He averaged 9.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists last season as a freshman.
Watson leads Huskers to comeback win over Panthers
Junior guard Glynn Watson Jr. is one of just two starters returning from a 12-19 team. Watson basically willed his team to a win over a pesky Eastern Illinois team that led Nebraska at home, 54-48 with just under 10:00 left in the game. But the Panthers went cold and Watson picked up his team, scoring two baskets in the final two minutes and four free throws with under 12 seconds left to win the game for the Cornhuskers.
This would have been a frustrating loss for Nebraska had Watson not stepped up with 21 points. Nebraska shot just 38.6 percent from the field and 19 of 35 free throws. The Huskers did hold Eastern Illinois to 39.7 percent shooting and forced 15 turnovers. Sophomore forward Isaiah Roby (6-8, 215) played well off the bench, scoring 11 points, grabbing 13 boards and blocking six shots in 26 minutes.
North Texas is:
- 1-4 ATS last 5 as a favorite.
- 0-6 ATS last 6 overall.
- 0-4 ATS last 4 after an ATS loss.
Nebraska should be the better team but they barely got by Eastern Illinois in the opener. That’s not a good sign and it could be another long year in the Big Ten for Tim Miles. I’ll take North Texas to cover the big number on the road.