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Nebraska basketball has a bright future

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska’s loss to Ohio State on Wednesday was gut wrenching, the kind of loss that stings a program for weeks to come.

But it also exhibited, once again, the potential this particular Cornhuskers team has for the future.

The 67-66 defeat at the hands of a struggling Ohio State Buckeyes team was disappointing. It was a winnable contest at home. And it ended in heartbreak.

But for Tim Miles and the fans in the state of Nebraska, there is hope in Lincoln. In the first half of the loss to the Buckeyes the Huskers looked as good as any team in the Big Ten. And it’s that kind of performance that should allow everyone involved in the program to breathe a sigh of relief as they set their eyes on the future.

The Huskers looked formidable in the first half, scoring 40 points in the first half and leading by as much as 12 at one point. Tai Webster led the team with 18 points on the night while Michael Jacobson and Evan had 11 points apiece. With Glynn Watson Jr. adding 10 points of his own the offense was balanced and effective. And it’s an offense that is entertaining if not consistently dominant.

Fans in Lincoln may feel wary at the moment. With three straight losses and Ed Morrow’s nagging foot injury casting a shadow over the season it would be easy to be dismayed. But the roster that Tim Miles put together is built to win later. It’s certainly not built to win now.

Seven players on the roster were ranked in the Top 150. But this young team needs to learn how to close out games. At 9-9 on the season and 3-3 in the Big Ten the Huskers need to make a strong late season push to make any kind of postseason tournament.

The Huskers have a number of tantalizing players coming in next season. Isaac Copeland is a 6-9 transfer from Georgetown who is the first player in Nebraska basketball history to have been ranked a five star recruit in high school.

Copeland will be eligible next season, as will Miami transfer James Palmer. Add in Nana Akenten, an athletic shooting guard who has led his Bolingbrook (IL) High School team to a 15-0 start to their season and will be a freshman next season, and Huskers fans should feel excited about the 2017-18 campaign.

The Huskers aren’t very good this season. They’re the epitome of mediocrity, able to stay on the court with most Big Ten teams but unable to consistently close out tight affairs. But the knocks and scrapes of heartbreaking losses will only strengthen a team set to take off in the coming years with a plethora of exciting incoming talent.