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A transfer shines and Huskers win comfortably, but opening exhibition highlights work left to be done

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Nebraska won and the Huskers look like they have something in Alonzo Verge.

Other than that, well, NU has some work to do with an exhibition game against Colorado on Sunday and the regular-season opener less than two weeks away.

NU led by eight at halftime before pulling away for the game’s final 10 minutes for a 97-58 exhibition win over Peru State on Wednesday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

"We could have been a little better," senior forward Derrick Walker said. "At times I think we weren't on the same page, but it's our first game. So now we can see where we made mistakes, and now we can correct those mistakes."

In the end, Nebraska won comfortably. But for much of the game, it was the NAIA Bobcats who were winning the rebounding battle and exposing the Huskers' perimeter defense, at one point sitting at 11-for-21 from beyond the three-point arc before missing six of their final seven attempts.

Nebraska outscored Peru State 33-8 over the game's final 10:30 to make the result look prettier than it actually was. A late push from Eduardo Andre helped the Huskers win on the glass, 33-32, but Peru State had 12 offensive rebounds to Nebraska's four, and outscored NU 14-4 in second-chance points.

NU coach Fred Hoiberg used the word "exposed" several times when talking about Peru State's advantages on the glass and at the three-point line.

"That's going to be my theme all year long, is physicality," Hoiberg said. "As the length and athleticism continue to go up, starting on Sunday (against Colorado), we're going to have to grow in that area if we want to have a great season."

Verge, who was the first player off the bench Wednesday, finished with 20 points, four rebounds, eight assists and three steals, scoring 14 points in nine second-half minutes. 

The Arizona State transfer's first three possessions of the game ended in assists to Derrick Walker, as he set the tone right away. He scored 10 points in the first 3:18 of the second half to help the Huskers extend the lead.

"When he went in there, the game completely changed with our pace," Hoiberg said. "I thought he made simple plays. … He just has great command, and he has a great presence out there; can get into the paint. I thought he made good, smart, simple decisions once he got in there."

Verge watched from the bench for the game's final 11 minutes as both teams began to substitute more liberally. Peru State, which opens its regular season Thursday, played 17 of the 20 players on its roster.

Nebraska, meanwhile, brought in players such as Kobe Webster, Eduardo Andre and Trevor Lakes to close things out and extend the lead. That's two players who started games for NU last season, and another in Andre who saw his playing time increase as the season went on.

NU's nine-man rotation up that point included Verge, Trey and Bryce McGowens, Walker, Lat Mayen, C.J. Wilcher, Keisei Tominaga, Keon Edwards and Wilhelm Breidenbach.

"One thing about tonight, we've got 12 or 13 that certainly you can make an argument to get on the floor and get minutes and be in the rotation," Hoiberg said. "And those guys that played the last 10 minutes were phenomenal. They were great on the bench, they were positive, and when they got their chance and their name was called, they went in there and made an impact."

Nebraska's rotation remains in flux, Hoiberg said, with one more exhibition game Sunday against Colorado and nearly two weeks until the regular-season opener against Western Illinois.

"We had conversations with everybody on our roster going into this game, just about roles and how important it is to accept it," Hoiberg said. "Always be ready when your name is called. It's going to be. This thing is a marathon, it's not a sprint.

"So our guys need to be ready. Those guys will play big roles on this team, there's no doubt about that.

Walker and Keon Edwards each scored 12 points for the Huskers, while Andre finished with 10 points and tied the team lead with six rebounds in a little more than eight minutes of playing time.

Nebraska made 22 of 29 shots in the second half, including 7 of 9 three-point attempts.

Contact the writer at cbasnett@journalstar.com or 402-473-7436. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.

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Assistant sports editor/high schools

A Ravenna native, Chris Basnett joined the Journal Star in 2016 and has more than 20 years of experience covering prep, college, and professional sports.

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