Game 27: Iowa Hawkeyes
Game Date: Feb. 23, 2013
Tipoff Time: 1:05 p.m. (CT)
Venue: Bob Devaney Sports Center
2012-13 Record: 12-14, 3-10 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 12-14 (1st year)
Career Record: 295-234 (18th year)
2012-13 Record: 17-9, 6-7 Big Ten
Head coach:: Fran McCaffery
Record at Iowa: 46-46 (3rd year)
Career Record: 297-223 (17th year)
Huskers on TV/Radio/Internet
Radio: Across the state on the IMG Husker Sports Radio Network, including KLIN (1400 AM/94.5 FM) in Lincoln, KFAB (1110 AM) in Omaha and KRVN (880 AM) in Lexington.
Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka
Analyst: Matt Davison
Internet Radio/Stats: Free on Huskers.com
Huskers Host Hawkeyes on Saturday
The Nebraska basketball team looks to snap a two-game losing streak Saturday afternoon, as the Huskers take on the Iowa Hawkeyes at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
The game was originally scheduled for Thursday night at 8 p.m., but the winter storm in the upper Midwest pushed the contest back until Saturday, Feb, 23, at 1:05 p.m. Tickets are available for $10 and $15 by visiting Huskers.com, calling 800-8-BIGRED or at the Devaney Center ticket office beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Saturday's game will be carried across the state on the 29-station Husker Sports Network, including flagship stations KLIN (1400 AM/94.5 FM) in Lincoln, KFAB (1110 AM) in Omaha and KRVN (880 AM) in Lexington, with Kent Pavelka and Matt Davison calling all of the action. The game can be heard for free at Huskers.com and is also available on the Huskers' app on iOS or android devices.
The Huskers (12-14, 3-10 Big Ten) played well against No. 8 Michigan State before falling 73-64 on Saturday night. Dylan Talley led all scorers with a career-high 28 points. The 6-foot-5 senior guard hit 8-of-16 shots from the field, including four 3-pointers, while going a perfect 8-of-8 from the foul line. It marked his fifth 20-point game of the season. In addition to Talley, the Huskers also received another strong performance from freshman forward Shavon Shields, who added 19 points and a career-high 13 rebounds for his first double-double.
The Huskers have faced a difficult schedule over the past two weeks, as four of NU's last five games have been against ranked opponents, including both Big Ten co-leaders last week. Thursday's contest with Iowa is the first of two meetings over the next three weeks, as they will square off again in Iowa City on Saturday, March 9.
Iowa (17-9, 6-7 Big Ten) comes into Saturday riding a three-game winning streak following a 72-51 rout of Minnesota on Sunday. In that game, Roy Devyn Marble led Iowa with 15 points and is averaging nearly 20 ppg during the Hawkeyes' win streak. Iowa put five players in double figures while shutting down the Minnesota offense. The Hawkeyes forced 17 Gopher turnovers and held UM to 36.2 percent shooting from the floor.
By the Numbers
0 - Number of shots Brandon Ubel missed in two games against Iowa last year. He went 2-for-2 in Iowa City and scored a season-high 17 points on 7-of-7 shooting in Lincoln.
2 - Number of times Nebraska and Iowa have faced off in the Devaney Center, as Iowa was the Huskers' first-ever opponent in the building back on Nov. 27, 1976.
5 - Dylan Talley's five 20-point games this year are a team high, and he is coming off a 28-point performance against Michigan State on Saturday. That effort matched the most points a player has scored against MSU this season (Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State).
7 - Number of turnovers Nebraska had against Michigan State, the third time in the last four games NU has had less than 10 turnovers. NU will be tested against an Iowa defense which is fifth in the Big Ten in steals per game (7.0).
81.4 - Nebraska's free throw percentage over the last four games (57-of-70, including a 12-for-13 effort against Michigan State last Saturday).
The Iowa Hawkeyes come to Lincoln playing some of their best basketball of the season in the last two weeks. Iowa is 17-9 on the season and 6-7 in Big Ten play, but has won three straight games, including a 72-51 win over Minnesota on Sunday.
The Hawkeyes were one of the Big Ten's most experienced teams coming into the season, bringing back four starters from a team that went 18-17 and reached the second round of the NIT. Head Coach Fran McCaffery is in his third season at Iowa after serving stints at Lehigh, UNC Greensboro and Siena.
This season, Iowa went 11-2 in non-conference action, losing only to Wichita State and Virginia Tech, while its best wins were against the teams from its own state, earning triumphs over Iowa State and Northern Iowa.
The Hawkeyes struggled against the meat of their Big Ten slate, going 2-5 to begin conference play, including losses to Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. Iowa then lost a couple of heartbreakers, including a double OT loss at Wisconsin. Since then, the Hawkeyes have rebounded with wins over Northwestern, Penn State and Minnesota. Against the Gophers, Iowa trailed 21-5 before out-scoring UM, 67-30 the rest of the way.
Iowa is one of the most balanced teams in the league, as the Hawkeyes play 10 players and no player averages more than 30 minutes per game. Junior guard Roy Devyn Marble leads the Hawkeyes in scoring at 13.6 ppg and is second on the team with 71 assists. Marble was in a scoring slump for most of Big Ten play, but has rebounded with three straight solid efforts. Sophomore forward Aaron White joins Marble in double figures by averaging 13.4 points and a team-high 5.8 points per game. Iowa starts a pair of freshmen in point guard Mike Gesell (9.1 ppg; 2.8 apg) and center Adam Woodbury (5.0 ppg; 5.2 rpg).
Nebraska-Iowa Series History
The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series, 13-8 in a series that dates back to 1907, but the two teams had not met prior to Nebraska joining the Big Ten since the 1976-77 season. Nebraska snapped Iowa's three-game win streak in the series with the win in January in Iowa City while Iowa returned the favor in the rematch last February. The Huskers have won six of the 10 meetings in Lincoln, but Iowa is 2-0 in the Devaney Center, winning the first-ever game in the building with a 71-57 victory on Nov. 27, 1976.
The Huskers were within 55-54 with 2:36 left after a Ray Gallegos basket. NU had a chance to take the lead on the next possession after Benny Parker's steal, but Talley missed the mid-range jumper and Gary Harris came down on the next possession and drained a 3-pointer from the wing with 1:49 remaining giving Michigan State a four-point lead at 58-54. Harris was 0-of-10 from the field before his 3-pointer sparked MSU to a strong finish.
Last Time Out
Despite strong performances from Shavon Shields and Dylan Talley, the Nebraska basketball team was unable to topple No. 8 Michigan State, falling to the Spartans, 73-64, Saturday evening at the Devaney Center.
Shields posted his first career double-double, scoring 19 points and grabbing a career-high 13 rebounds, while Talley scored a game-high 28 points, but Michigan State's balance was too much on this evening.
Four Spartans reached double figures, including double-doubles by both Adreian Payne (15 points, 14 rebounds) and Derrick Nix (13 points, 11 rebounds).
MSU, which improved to 22-4 and 11-2 in the Big Ten, held Nebraska to just 35.5 percent shooting and out-rebounded Nebraska, 42-24. Keith Appling led MSU with 13 points and four assists while Gary Harris added 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting, while Payne keyed the decisive second-half run to break open a one-point game.
Nebraska (12-14, 3-10 Big Ten) trailed 29-24 at the break, but rallied behind Shields, who scored 12 of the Huskers first 16 second-half points to cut the lead to 41-40 with 14:17 left. Payne, who had just two points in the first half, scored six of his 15 points in a 16-4 Spartan run to put Michigan State up 57-44 with 6:25 left.
The Huskers were down 65-51 with 1:34 left, but Talley and Shields led Nebraska on a 10-3 surge to pull within 68-61 with 57 seconds left. MSU held the Huskers off at the foul line, going 18-of-24 from the line in the final 20 minutes, while NU got to the line just 13 times on the night.
Shields became the first Husker freshman since Aleks Maric in 2005 to record a double-double, while Talley's 28 points topped his previous career best of 27 set against Kent State on Nov. 24. The senior went 8-of-16 from the floor, including four 3-pointers. The Huskers were just 8-of-24 from 3-point range, as MSU held Ray Gallegos without a 3-pointer. Gallegos entered the night leading the Big Ten with 2.5 3-pointers per game.
In the first half, MSU used a 13-3 run to take control, building its largest lead of the half at 23-12 after a Gary Harris steal and dunk forced NU to take a timeout. Nebraska fought right back with a 7-0 run, including 3-pointers from Brandon Ubel and Talley to cut the lead to four. Nebraska, which shot just 32 percent in the first half and was out-rebounded 24-10, forced 10 Spartan turnovers in the first half and that led to 12 Husker points.
Quick Notes From the Michigan State Game
- Dylan Talley's 28 points was a career high, bettering the 27 points he had against Kent State on Nov. 24. It is his team-high fifth 20-point game this season and second in Big Ten play (also vs. Northwestern).
- Nebraska falls to 0-8 against ranked teams and eight of the Huskers 14 losses have been vs. ranked foes.
- Shavon Shields posted his first career double-double with 19 points - all in the second half - and a career-high 13 rebounds. His previous career high was nine rebounds at Ohio State on Jan. 2, 2013. Prior to the MSU game, the last double-double by a Husker freshman was Aleks Maric (13 points, 12 rebounds) at Iowa State on Feb. 27, 2005.
- Ray Gallegos went without a 3-pointer for only the third time in 26 games and for the first time since Jan. 6, against Wisconsin.
- Michigan State's 12 blocked shots was one shy of the Devaney Center record by an opponent (13, Kansas State, 2/15/97).
Huskers Look to top 2011-12 Win Total
The Huskers will look to eclipse last year's win total Saturday afternoon, as the Huskers host Iowa. Nebraska picked up its 12th win of the season on Feb. 9 against Penn State, and is ranked 16th in the RPI entering the week.
Despite losing five of the team's top six scorers from last year, Nebraska has equaled last year's win total against one of the nation's toughest schedules. NU's strength of schedule is 19th nationally following Saturday's loss vs. Michigan State. In all, 11 of the Huskers' 14 losses are against teams currently in the top 50 of the RPI. Nebraska's schedule will not get any easier in the final month, as the Huskers five remaining regular-season games are all against top 100 RPI teams, including three currently in the top 30 nationally in RPI.
Value the Basketball
Under Tim Miles, one thing the Huskers have done well is cut down on the number of turnovers. Despite losing its top three point guards from last year and losing its backup point guard to a season-ending injury, Nebraska is fourth in the Big Ten and in the 14th nationally with 10.9 turnovers per game - two fewer per game than last season - and has committed 10 turnovers or less 11 times this season.
The Huskers are keeping heady company as two of the teams - Wisconsin and Michigan - are second and third nationally in fewest turnovers per game. The Huskers had a school-record two turnovers against Purdue on Jan. 16, breaking the mark of three set on three previous occasions. The Huskers struggled with turnovers at Indiana with 15 turnovers, including 10 in the first half.
Creep, Crawl, Walk, Run
With four new starters from last season and an eight-player rotation which includes only three players who saw action last season, there have been some bumps along the way, as the Huskers install a new offensive system and the headline has been a common mantra of Coach Miles during his first season on the job.
Last year, his Colorado State team led the Mountain West Conference in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and free throw percentage, ranking in the top-10 nationally in both free throw and 3-point percentage. The 2012-13 Huskers come into Saturday's game with Iowa ranked 11th (.407), 11th (.300) and seventh (.695), in those respective categories.
When Nebraska has put up points, they have enjoyed success, going 10-3 when scoring at least 60 points, following Saturday's loss to Michigan State.
One adjustment the Huskers have made recently is going to a bigger lineup and moving senior Dylan Talley to the point guard spot prior to the first matchup with Michigan State. Over the last 10 games, Talley and the Huskers have responded well, averaging 13.0 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game, while Nebraska has averaged nearly 15 more points per game since then.
Learning to win the Close Ones
After getting blown out in its Big Ten opener at No. 8 Ohio State, Nebraska has had opportunities in nearly every other Big Ten game.
Six times in the last 12 games, Nebraska has been within two possessions in the final seven minutes of a game, including four times against ranked teams. While NU was not able to pull out wins in the first four games, the Huskers found a way down the stretch against Penn State for its first Big Ten win on Jan. 19. In the final seven minutes at Penn State, the Huskers hit 60 percent of their field goals and went 9-for-9 from the foul line to earn a four-point win. Against No. 11 Ohio State on Feb. 2, the Huskers were within five points and had the ball with 2:00 left, but were unable to trim the deficit. Even in Saturday's loss to Michigan State, it was a three-point game with 10:30 left before MSU went on a 16-4 run to take control.
Nebraska is 4-0 on the season in games decided by five points or less after going 4-3 in games decided by five points or less last season.
Huskers Look for Balanced Scoring
One of the biggest keys to success for the Huskers has been finding multiple scoring options. Nebraska has three players averaging in double figures on the season, while six players (Brandon Ubel, Dylan Talley, Ray Gallegos, Andre Almeida, David Rivers and Shavon Shields) have all scored at least 20 points at least once this season.
Nebraska has three players averaging at least 11.4 points per game, which would mark the first time that the Huskers have had three players average double figures in a season since 2005-06.
When Nebraska has three or more players in double figures, the Huskers are 10-4, but are just 2-10 when not putting at least three players in double figures, including Saturday's loss to No. 8 Michigan State.
Husker Defense Has been Solid
While NU's offense has been in transition, the Huskers have done a good job slowing tempo and controlling things on the defensive end.
- Nebraska is eighth in the Big Ten and 86th nationally in scoring defense, allowing 62.8 points per game.
- NU has held 20 of its 26 foes under their 2012-13 scoring averages. Only seven teams have scored 70 against the Huskers this season, as Minnesota's 84 points on Jan. 29 were a season high against the Huskers.
- The Huskers have held 23 of 26 teams to under 50 percent shooting from the field, including 11 teams to under 40 percent. Nebraska held Penn State to 29.3 percent shooting, the Huskers' best defensive effort in a conference game since holding Kansas State to 23.4 percent on Jan. 11, 2006.
Developing Talent; Looking for Depth
While having to replace four starters and seven of the top nine scorers from last year, Tim Miles has had the challenge of putting players in new roles this year. The Huskers had five returning scholarship players in 2012-13, and all five are integral members of NU's rotation.
Four of the five returnees have seen significant jumps in their averages from their last season of competition and are all enjoying personal bests in both scoring and rebounding. Prior to this season, the Huskers had only one player on the roster with a 20-point game as a Husker (Andre Almeida in 2010-11) and no returning player had averaged more than nine points per game.
One of the problems has been a lack of depth, as Coach Miles signed four players after arriving in late March (the three redshirts and freshman Sergej Vucetic) while NU's other two scholarship freshman (Shavon Shields and Benny Parker) have been mainstays in the rotation. NU's depth will be improved next year, as Miles signed three players in the fall and has two scholarships available for the spring signing period.
A Double-Double for Shields
Shavon Shields posted his first career double-double against Michigan State on Feb. 16, with 19 points and 13 rebounds, becoming the first Husker freshman since 2005 to record a double-double. Over the last decade, he is only the third player to post a double-double as a freshman, joining Aleks Maric and Joe McCray.
Ubel Proving Offense, Leadership
Senior Brandon Ubel came into the 2012-13 season as the Huskers' most known quantity and NU's most experienced player - by a wide margin. Ubel entered the season with 59 career starts at Nebraska, while the remaining seven returnees on the roster had combined for seven career starts at NU.
While most known for his rebounding, Ubel has picked up some of the scoring slack, averaging 11.4 points and a team-high 6.8 rebounds per game, as he ranks among the Big Ten leaders in both categories. He has been in double figures in 17 games this year after reaching double figures just 18 times in his first three seasons. In addition, his rebounding average is on pace to be the highest for a Husker since Aleks Maric in 2007-08. Ubel has shown his toughness, returning after two games after suffering an elbow injury against Michigan on Jan. 9. Ubel battled strep throat last week, which limited him to 11 points and 12 rebounds in two games last week. Prior to that, he had reached double figures in the previous five contests. He had 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the loss to No. 23 Minnesota on Jan. 29, and dominated on the interior against Northwestern with 14 points and 12 rebounds, including seven on the offensive glass.
Entering the season, he had one double-double, but already has four this season (21 points & 12 rebounds vs. Southern, 17 points & 13 rebounds vs. Kent State, 15 points & 10 rebounds vs. Jacksonville State and 14 points and 12 rebounds vs. Northwestern). Ubel nearly had another double-double against Wisconsin on Jan. 6 with 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and eight rebounds, along with a career-high three blocked shots. Ubel also had a team-high 10 rebounds at No. 2 Michigan on Jan. 9, before suffering the elbow injury in the final minutes of action.
He began the season with a career-high 21 points in the win over Southern, before pacing Nebraska with 17 points in a 50-48 win over Horizon League favorite Valparaiso. Ubel had 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the loss to Kent State and also had 18 points, including 10-of-11 shooting from the foul line, against Nicholls State.
The 6-foot-10 forward is the Huskers' top returning rebounder (5.3 rpg) and second-leading scorer (6.7 ppg) while being one of the Huskers' most consistent performers at the free throw line. Ubel is fourth on Nebraska's career free throw percentage list at 80.1 percent. Last year, Ubel shot 82.5 percent from the foul line. Ubel is shooting 85 percent (53-of-62) from the foul line dating back to Dec. 15.
Off the court, Ubel is a broadcasting major who will graduate in May. He has done some women's basketball play-by-by for the campus radio station and interned at a local ABC affiliate over the summer.
Talley Takes Offensive Role
Senior Dylan Talley came into the 2012-13 season as the Huskers' most proven scorer and has shouldered a significant role in NU's offense. The 6-foot-5 senior enters the Iowa game averaging 13.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. He is 11th in the league in scoring and fourth in minutes played with 35.2 per game.
Talley has been in double figures in a team-high 20 contests and has topped the Huskers in scoring 12 times this season, including a career-high 28 point performance against No. 8 Michigan State last Saturday. It marked his fifth 20-point effort of the season, as he hit 8-of-16 shots, including four 3-pointers. His first 20-point effort in Big Ten play came against Northwestern on Jan. 26, when he also had 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds.
He put on a display against Kent State on Nov. 24, scoring a career-high 27 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out three assists. Talley also had 22 points against Nebraska-Omaha on Nov. 18 and 21 points, including a career-best six 3-pointers, against Central Michigan on Dec. 22.
Talley's role has changed in recent games, serving as one of the Huskers' primary point guards and helping to run the offense. Over the last nine games, he is averaging 14.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists per game while helping the Huskers average 15 points per game more than in the first three Big Ten contests.
He handled much of the point guard duties at No. 2 Michigan as Benny Parker battled foul trouble, and finished with 12 points and a then-career-high five assists. Talley started at point guard against No. 22 Michigan State on Jan. 13 and had 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 38 minutes. Against Purdue on Jan. 16, he had just six points, but led the Huskers in rebounds (eight), steals (four) and assists (three). He dished out a season-high six assists and added eight points and four rebounds in the win at Penn State on Jan. 19.
In his first season at Nebraska, Talley tied for the Big Ten lead in scoring by a reserve, averaging 8.9 points per game, as he was in double figures 11 times. Talley has been a prolific scorer throughout his collegiate career, earning America East Conference Rookie-of-the-Year honors in 2009-10, averaging 11.8 points per game at Binghamton University. At Blinn (Texas) College, he was sixth nationally in scoring at 23.0 points per game.
Gallegos Provides Ray of Light for Offense
One of the biggest surprises for the Huskers has been the emergence of Ray Gallegos. The fourth-year junior from Salt Lake City redshirted last year and spent the year adding strength and improving his shooting range. The work has paid off for Gallegos, who may be one of the Big Ten's biggest surprises in 2012-13.
Gallegos, who averaged 2.6 points per game in 2010-11, is second on the team in scoring at 12.6 ppg and tops all Big Ten players with 63 3-pointers, which is tied for 10th on the Huskers' single-season list. Gallegos has been in double figures 18 times this season after accomplishing the feat just three times in his first two seasons at Nebraska.
Gallegos has led the Huskers in scoring four times in conference play, highlighted by a 30-point effort at Minnesota on Jan. 29. In that game, he tied or set career bests in 3-pointers (six) and field goals (12) while becoming the first Husker since 2008 to have a 30-point game. His previous Big Ten high was a 19-point night at No. 2 Michigan on Jan. 9, which was part of a seven-game stretch where he was in double figures. Gallegos had 11 points in the Huskers' win over Penn State last Saturday, and keyed Nebraska's win over Northwestern on Jan. 26 with 11 second-half points, including a trio of 3-pointers in an 11-2 run to put the game away.
Earlier this season, Gallegos put on a show in El Paso, as he earned a spot on the Sun Bowl Invitational All-Tournament team. He averaged 20.5 ppg, including a career-high 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting in Nebraska's loss to UTEP. In the semifinals against Central Michigan, he scored 11 of Nebraska's first 16 points to help the Huskers get out to an early lead and finished with 19 points.
Gallegos put together the best two-game stretch of his career, posting consecutive 20-point efforts at Wake Forest and USC, a stretch where he shot 56 percent from 3-point range. Against USC on Dec. 3, Gallegos had a career-high six 3-pointers and scored the Huskers' final 11 points of the first half to break open a tie game. At Wake Forest on Nov. 27, he finished with a career-high 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting, as he made his first seven shots of the second half and totaled 17 of his 20 points after halftime.
Gallegos, who never played more than 27 minutes in any game during his first two seasons, leads the Big Ten and is 11th nationally with 37.3 minutes per game. He played every minute of the Huskers' first five Big Ten games and saw his streak of consecutive minutes end at 218:39 when he exited the game midway through the first half at Penn State on Jan. 19. He has sat just 11 minutes in the Huskers' first 12 Big Ten contests. His minutes per game are the most since Dave Hoppen averaged 38.5 minutes per game in 1984-85. In the last 25 years, Charles Richardson Jr. is the only Husker to average more than 35 minutes per game for a full season when he averaged 36.3 minutes per game in 2006-07.
As a sophomore, Gallegos played in 25 games, including a start in the season opener, and averaged 2.8 points and 1.0 rebound per game. The Salt Lake City native's best game of 2010-11 came against Grambling, when he came off the bench for 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
Shields Makes Name For Himself
After missing most of the first month of the season, Shavon Shields has become a mainstay in the Husker lineup.
On the season, Shields is averaging 7.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game while averaging 26.8 minutes per game. In Big Ten play, he has continued to make strides, raising his scoring and rebounding numbers from his non-conference totals, averaging 9.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per outing. He is making a bid to become the first Husker freshman since the 2005-06 season to average double figures in conference games. Shields has reached double figures four times in Big Ten play, most recently a 19-point, 13-rebound effort against No. 8 Michigan State on Feb. 16.
Shields set career highs in consecutive games last month, highlighted by a 29-point effort at Penn State on Jan. 19. Shields hit 10-of-11 shots from the field and went 8-of-8 from the line in posting the highest scoring effort by a Husker freshman since 2007 (Ryan Anderson at Hawaii). He also had team bests in both rebounds (six) and steals (three) to help NU to its first Big Ten win. On Jan. 16 against Purdue, Shields became the first Husker freshmen to lead the team in scoring in three years with 18 points and eight rebounds. Shields was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Jan. 21, the first time since 2009 that a Husker freshman was honored by the league.
Shields has also grabbed at least six rebounds in eight of the Huskers' 13 Big Ten games, including 13 rebounds against No. 8 Michigan State and nine rebounds at No. 8 Ohio State on Jan. 2. Shields is third among Big Ten freshman in rebounding in conference play.
At the Sun Bowl Invitational, he averaged 5.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, as he grabbed seven rebounds in each game. Against Jacksonville State on Dec. 18, Shields came off the bench to score a then-career-high 14 points, hitting 6-of-7 shots from the field.
Rivers Looks to Get into Offensive Flow
Throughout the summer and the preseason, one Husker returnee who was flying under the radar was sophomore David Rivers. The 6-foot-7 wing totaled only 20 points and 16 rebounds in 19 contests as a freshman, but has added nearly 20 pounds since last year and has made significant strides.
Rivers' improvement has been evident, as he is averaging 6.1 points and 3.3 rebounds per game while playing in all 25 contests. He has been at his best in the last 16 games, reaching double figures for the first four times of his career, as he averages 7.5 points per game on 50 percent shooting dating back to Dec. 22. He led the Huskers in scoring for the second time this season against No. 11 Ohio State on Feb. 2, with 13 points, as he hit five of seven shots from the floor and added six rebounds. Against Penn State last Saturday, Rivers had nine points, six rebounds and a career-best five assists and had seven points and two rebounds in Saturday's loss to No. 8 Michigan State.
He made his first career start at No. 22 Michigan State on Jan. 13, leading the Huskers with 18 points on a perfect 8-of-8 shooting from the field. His eight field goals without a miss was one off Nebraska's single-game record, and he also chipped in six rebounds while playing all 40 minutes.
Rivers put on a show in Nebraska's win over Central Michigan on Dec. 22, scoring a career-high 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting and matching his personal best with seven rebounds. His effort against CMU matched his entire season output as a freshman. Prior to that game, Rivers turned an ankle against Oregon on Dec. 15 and played just 11 minutes in NU's previous two contests.
Parker Makes A Point
Benny Parker has been a solid contributor in his first season in the Husker program. The 5-foot-9 guard became only the 10th freshman to start a season opener since 1995 and is one of four Huskers who has played in every game this season. Parker averages 3.0 points, 2.3 assists and 1.4 rebounds per game and has a team-high 1.4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He has committed one turnover or less in 13 of the Huskers 25 games this year.
Parker, who has come off the bench over the last month, has been a spark for the Huskers. He scored just two points in NU's first six Big Ten games, but has scored 20 points over the last seven contests, while also averaging 2.1 assists per game in that span. He dished out a team-high six assists and grabbed three rebounds in 30 minutes of work against Minnesota on Jan. 29, and had four points and an assist in nine minutes against No. 11 Ohio State on Feb. 2. Parker had four points and two assists without a turnover in 21 minutes against Penn State on Feb. 2 and made his only shot from the floor in the loss to No. 8 Michigan State on Saturday.
Parker had a career-high seven assists and had one turnover in Nebraska's 61-57 win over Tulane on Nov. 21, and totaled eight points, four assists and a career-high four steals at Wake Forest on Nov. 27. Against UNO on Nov. 18, he had eight points - all coming in the second half - after sitting most of the first half because of foul trouble. Parker also had seven points, three rebounds and three assists in a two-point win over Valparaiso on Nov. 15.
Parker was a four-year starter at Sumner Academy of Arts and Science, leading the school to an 85-15 mark and a pair of state titles during his high school career. As a senior, he averaged 24.8 points, 6.2 assists and 3.9 steals per game, winning the 2012 DiRenna Award, representing the top player in the Kansas City metro area.
Gallegos Goes for 30 vs. Gophers
Nebraska junior Ray Gallegos enjoyed the finest offensive performance of his career in the Huskers' loss at Minnesota on Jan. 29.
- His 30-point performance against the Gophers marked the 61st time a Husker had scored 30 points since Feb. 13, 2008, a span of 159 games. It also marked the first time a Husker guard had scored 30 points since Tyronn Lue did so during the 1997-98 season.
- Gallegos became the 24th player in school history to have a 30-point game at Nebraska. Of the 24 players, only 12 have multiple 30-point games in their Husker career.
- His 30 points tied the Big Ten high for a conference game, set two other times this year. In addition, he set Big Ten highs in conference play in field goals made (12) and 3-pointers (six), setting career bests in both categories.
Shields Erupts Against Penn State
Freshman Shavon Shields enjoyed one of the finest efforts by a Husker freshman with his 29-point effort at Penn State on Jan. 19.
- Shields 29-point effort tied for the second-highest scoring effort by a freshman in school history. Only Tyronn Lue, who had 30 points against Oregon in 1995, had more in a single game.
- His 10-of-11 shooting effort against the Nittany Lions is the third-best shooting night by a Big Ten player this season, trailing only David Rivers' 8-of-8 effort at Michigan State on Jan. 13 and Will Sheehey's 9-of-9 performance against Purdue on Feb. 16.
- Shields also went 8-of-8 from the foul line, which tied for the second-best effort from the foul line by a Big Ten player this season.
- The 29 points ties for the fourth-highest total in a Big Ten conference game this season.
- He also tied for team-high honors with six rebounds and added a career-high three steals while playing 38 minutes before fouling out.
- Shields earned Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Week honors on Jan. 23, after averaging 23.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game against Purdue and Penn State.
Almeida Looks to Provide Inside Presence
As Nebraska hits the grind of the schedule, the Huskers will need a strong interior presence and are hoping Andre Almeida can fill the role. The 6-foot-11 senior averages 5.1 points on 48 percent shooting, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.
He has been slowed by injuries at times in Big Ten play, missing two whole games and a half of another over the last month. The injury bug began against Ohio State in the Big Ten opener when he sprained his ankle. His best effort since his return to action was eight points and four rebounds against Purdue on Jan. 19. Almeida has provided strong efforts in the last two games, grabbing a team-high eight rebounds and blocking three shots in just 21 minutes of work against Ohio State on Feb. 2, and adding six points, three rebounds and three blocked shots in 12 minutes against Penn State on Feb. 9. He played just four minutes at Indiana because of foul trouble and was held scoreless in six minutes vs. Michigan State.
Earlier this season, he put together the best game of his career at Wake Forest on Nov. 27, when he had 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting and a career-high 11 rebounds to earn Big Ten Player-of-the-Week honors. His effort at Wake Forest marked the first time since 2009 that a Big Ten player had 20 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 90 percent from the field.
Almeida put together a dominant effort against UNO on Nov. 18, when he had 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting, and seven rebounds. Against Tulane on Nov. 21, the 6-foot-11 center keyed Nebraska's second-half effort with 10 points, six rebounds and four blocks, as he scored nine of his 10 points in the second half. Almeida had eight points and three blocked shots against USC and added six points, five rebounds and a season-high four blocked shots in the loss to Creighton.
In 2010-11, he averaged 5.2 points on 56 percent shooting, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game as the Huskers' top reserve in the post. Almeida reached double figures on five occasions, including a 20-point, seven-rebound effort in his debut against South Dakota. Two of Almeida's best efforts of 2010-11 came against a pair of top-five teams, as he had 10 points and seven rebounds at No. 3 Kansas and 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting and five rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench in Nebraska's win over No. 3 Texas. Almeida was a force on the defensive end, ranking sixth in the Big 12 in blocked shots.
Huskers Have Relied on Walk-Ons this season
With only eight recruited scholarship players available for this season, Nebraska has relied on its walk-ons to play crucial roles this season.
Mike Peltz saw action in 14 of NU's first 16 games as the first guard off the bench, averaging 2.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.1 points per game in over 15 minutes of action per contest before being sidelined with a knee injury. Peltz had a patella tendon debridement on his left knee and had surgery last week. The typical rehab schedule for the surgery is three to four months, allowing him to be at 100 percent for offseason workouts.
Peltz had one of his best games of 2012-13 at Oregon, totaling four points and four rebounds in 15 minutes of action. Peltz played a career-high 22 minutes against Kent State, where he grabbed six rebounds, including four on the offensive glass, and had three rebounds and two assists in the win over USC on Dec. 3. Peltz tied for team-high honors with four assists in 18 minutes off the bench against Central Michigan.
When Brandon Ubel missed two games with an elbow injury, Jordan Tyrance stepped into the rotation and provided two of the best performances of his career. After playing just 13 minutes in Nebraska's first 16 contests, Tyrance played a then-career high 12 minutes at No. 22 Michigan State on Jan. 13, totaling two blocked shots and two assists. He followed that outing by setting career bests in points (10), rebounds (seven) and minutes (21) against Purdue on Jan. 16. He has continued to see playing time since Ubel returned, averaging 7.1 minutes a game over the last eight games.
Trevor Menke is the third Husker who has played a significant role, as he has appeared in 12 games as a backup point guard. Menke was put on scholarship for the season and has five assists in 59 minutes of work.
The 2012-13 Huskers have a trio of players whose parents starred at either the collegiate or professional level. Freshman Shavon Shields is the son of former Husker and Kansas City Chiefs great Will Shields, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December of 2011 and was enshrined last summer. He is also a two-time finalist (2012-13) for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Sophomore Jordan Tyrance is the son of a pair of former Husker standouts, as his father, Pat Tyrance Jr., was a two-time All-Big Eight linebacker and also an NCAA Today's Top Six Award winner, while his mother, Renita Robinson was a former NCAA triple jump champion. In addition, sophomore David Rivers' father played collegiately at Arkansas Little Rock for four seasons.