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Nebraska men's hoops practice, 7.23

Nebraska freshman guard Charlie Easley shoots during warmups on July 23 at the Hendricks Training Complex.

The Nebraska men's basketball team will play five of its Big Ten home games on either Saturday or Sunday, according to the league's schedule released Friday morning.

The Huskers will host Indiana (Jan. 18), Penn State (Feb. 1) and Wisconsin (Feb. 15) on Saturdays during the upcoming season while Purdue (Dec. 15) and Northwestern (March 1) will visit on Sundays.

The Northwestern game is Nebraska's final home game of the season and the only regular-season home game the team will play in March.

NU will host Michigan Tuesday, Jan. 28 and Michigan State Thursday, Feb. 20. The conference season begins with two mid-December games; Nebraska travels to Indiana Dec. 13 before hosting Purdue Dec. 15.

Nebraska wraps up the regular season with road games at Michigan (March 5) and Minnesota (March 8). The Big Ten Tournament is March 11-15 in Indianapolis.

Here's the full Big Ten schedule, with home games in bold: Friday, Dec. 13 at Indiana; Sunday, Dec. 15 vs. Purdue; Friday, Jan. 3 vs. Rutgers; Tuesday, Jan. 7 vs. IowaSaturday, Jan. 11 at Northwestern; Tuesday Jan. 14 at Ohio State; Saturday, Jan. 18 vs. Indiana; Tuesday, Jan. 21 at Wisconsin; Saturday, Jan. 25 at Rutgers; Tuesday, Jan. 28 vs. Michigan; Saturday, Feb. 1 vs. Penn State; Saturday, Feb. 8 at Iowa; Tuesday, Feb. 11 at Maryland; Saturday, Feb. 15 vs. Wisconsin; Thursday, Feb. 20 vs. Michigan State; Monday, Feb. 24 at Illinois; Thursday, Feb. 27 vs. Ohio State; Sunday, March 1 vs. Northwestern; Thursday, March 5 at Michigan; Sunday, March 8 at Minnesota.

Season tickets sold out: Nebraska's new coaching staff and almost entirely new roster has certainly seemed to pique interest among the fan base. Nebraska announced Wednesday that the school had sold out its 2019-2020 season tickets a full 75 days before the regular-season opener against UC Riverside.

That's on top of strong demand for the Opening Night with Husker Hoops event on Sept. 27. While tickets to the event are free, they still must be reserved, and the lower bowl at Pinnacle Bank Arena is already sold out. That prompted the school to open up the 200 level with seats getting snatched up quickly, as well.

Easley impresses: Lincoln Pius X walk-on Charlie Easley was thrown into the fire early with Nebraska's limited roster, and the former Thunderbolt delivered. He was one of the first players off the bench in each of the Huskers' four games in Italy and capped his trip with a 15-point effort in NU's final game.

It would have been 18 points, Hoiberg said, had Easley not stepped out of bounds while making a three-pointer.

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"I was really pleased with Charlie. He does everything that’s asked of him. He’s a guy that can really shoot the ball, obviously, but showed more than that," Hoiberg said. "He moved his feet well defensively; he’s always in the right spot. I thought he played very well."

Cleaning the glass: It's no secret rebounding will be a challenge for an undersized Nebraska roster, especially when the Huskers hit the Big Ten gauntlet. Six-foot-9 freshman Yvan Ouedraogo will likely be counted on to help in that area, but the Huskers will need everyone to pull their weight.

Guards Haanif Cheatham and Jervay Green led Nebraska's guards on that front in Italy. That part of the game is still a work in progress, but the Huskers were able to see what they were capable of when they did come down with the ball.

"We had very good stretches of rebounding, and when we did rebound that really got us out on the break where we got a lot of fast-break baskets. But that is a concern, is being able to get in there," Hoiberg said. "Then when we did get out and run and push and throw ahead, generally good things happened."

Solid competition: It can be a little bit of a mystery when it comes to figuring out just how good the opponents will be when a college program heads overseas. That question was no different for Nebraska, which won three of its four games by double digits and led another by 24 points before hanging on to win by three.

Hoiberg characterized the competition as "pretty good." NU's first opponent, Stella Azzura, led Minnesota in the fourth quarter one day after the Huskers beat the Italian side by 31. Silute BC, the Lithuanian club Nebraska played twice, rallied in the second half to turn what looked like a Nebraska blowout into a tight NU victory.

"We had some pretty good competition over there. The first team we played was a team that played some other high-major teams as well and they were involved in some close games, and it’s a team we ended up pulling away from in the second half. It’s a team that had some high-level pro players over there," Hoiberg said. "The Lithuanian pro team that we played had a couple Americans on their team and had some guys that could really shoot it."

To be clear, Nebraska wasn't playing Michigan State across the pond. But at the very least, NU's opponents were able to provide enough quality competition for Nebraska to learn something about itself.

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

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Husker basketball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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