For Bo Spencer, life in the Midwest initially lacked the antidote to his homesickness.
Spencer, who played for three years at LSU before transferring to Nebraska prior to the start of last season, spent his entire life in Louisiana. He’d never experienced cold weather or touched snow.
And most of his family lived in the South. His mother used to prepare a postgame dish of chicken, cornbread, rice and gravy when he played for the Tigers. So he’d lost his favorite meal, too.
“I tried to fix it myself, but it didn’t turn out the same,” Spencer said Wednesday.
But after a year away from the court, Nebraska’s senior guard says he feels comfortable with the program and the community. He seemed relaxed Monday, when Nebraska (2-0) topped USC 64-61 on the road in double overtime.
Spencer scored 22 points, grabbed seven rebounds and recorded three assists in that game.
He averaged 14.5 points for the Tigers in 2009-10 before sitting out the following season at Nebraska.
Ohio State is clearly the Big Ten’s king. And based on what it has back from last season’s NCAA tournament teams, Wisconsin and Michigan sit at No. 2 and No. 3 (not necessarily in that order).
But after that, the league is tough to assess right now. Spencer is an experienced guard on a veteran Cornhuskers' squad that kissed the bubble last season until a late slide ended all tourney talk.
Spencer has NCAA tournament experience. And he’s a perimeter playmaker in a conference that lost E’Twaun Moore, Kalin Lucas, Darius Morris, Demetri McCamey, Talor Battle, Juice Thompson and David Lighty to graduation or the NBA.
There are so many questions about the teams below the Big Ten’s top tier. Spencer could help the Cornhuskers climb the Big Ten standings if he builds on Monday’s performance.
“It looks to me like it’s a league that 8-12 is a lot better than they were a year ago so the bottom part of the league is going to be really strong,” said Huskers coach Doc Sadler.
That’s why adding a player such as Spencer could turn Nebraska’s fortunes.
Spencer’s time at Louisiana State ended when head coach Trent Johnson dismissed him for academic reasons. He eventually turned to Sadler, who told him that he didn’t have a scholarship for him. Spencer offered to walk-on.
“I think it was a heck of a commitment by his family because we didn’t have any scholarships,” Sadler said.
Spencer said he didn’t know much about the world outside of Louisiana. But the Nebraska community has supported him and helped him make the transition.
Fans often reminded him that they were excited for his debut when he sat out last year due to NCAA rules for transfers. They sent him Facebook messages and tried to make him feel at home, even though they couldn’t change the temperature.
“How they take pride in being Huskers, I really like it a lot,” Spencer said. “They’ve really embraced me.”
Spencer said he wants to return the love with an impressive 2011-12 season. With the experience on their roster, the Huskers have the potential to shake up the Big Ten, he said.
“We have all the little small pieces and the maturity on our team, we could be a sleeper team,” Spencer said. “We have some incredible big men. Our guard play is incredible, our coaches are incredible. I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”