Huskers Aim For Cipriano Classic Crown
2012-13 Record: 4-0, 0-0 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 4-0 (1st year)
Career Record: 287-220 (18th year)
Kent State Golden Flashes
2012-13 Record: 3-2, 0-0 MAC
Head coach: Rob Senderoff
Record at Kent State: 24-14 (2nd year)
Career Record: Same
Huskers on TV/Radio/Internet
Television: BTN and BTN2Go
(Ch. 610 on DirecTV; Chs. 439, 9500 on DISH; Chs. 24 and 333-SH, 1333-HD on Time Warner Cable; Chs. 80 SD, 1080-HD on Cox Cable)
Play-by-play: Brian Anderson
Color: Jim Jackson
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
Color: Matt Davison
Internet Radio/Stats: Free on Huskers.com
Satellite Radio: None
Huskers Aim For Cipriano Classic Crown
The Nebraska men's basketball team looks for its first in-season tournament title since the 2005-06 season Saturday night, as the Huskers play host to Kent State on the final evening of the Joe Cipriano Nebraska Classic.
Tipoff from the Devaney Center is slated for 8 p.m. and tickets are on sale for as little as $5 by visiting Huskers.com, by calling 1-800-8-BIGRED or by visiting the Devaney Center Ticket Office 90 minutes prior to tipoff.
Saturday's game will be carried across the state on the 29-station Husker Sports Network, including primary 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 on Huskers.com and is also available on the Huskers' app on iOS or android devices.
The Nebraska-Kent State game will be televised nationally on BTN with Brian Anderson and Jim Jackson on the call. Saturday's game will also be available on BTN2Go on both Apple and Android devices.
The Huskers come into Saturday's matchup with a 4-0 record following a 61-57 win over Tulane Wednesday night. Dylan Talley and Ray Gallegos topped the Huskers against the Green Wave with 14 points apiece, while Andre Almeida had nine of his 10 points in the second half to help the Huskers remain unbeaten. Nebraska held Tulane to just 39 percent shooting in holding the Green Wave to its lowest offensive output of the year.
With a win Saturday night, the Huskers can win their first tournament title since winning the John Thompson Foundation Basketball Challenge in 2005-06 and only the second tournament crown since 2000.
Standing in the way is a Kent State squad which has traditionally been one of the best teams in the Mid-American Conference. The Golden Flashes, who have won 20 or more games in 13 of the past 14 seasons, have been tested early on, knocking off Colonial Athletic Association favorite Drexel in the season opener and taking Horizon League favorite Valparaiso to overtime before losing. Kent State, which is 3-2 on the season, comes off a 69-68 win over Bethune-Cookman on Tuesday, as Randal Holt's jumper with 1.2 seconds left in regulation providing the margin.
By The Numbers
2008 - The last time Nebraska started a season 5-0, as the Huskers opened the year with six straight wins en route to an 18-13 record.
1.4 - Blocks per game in Andre Almeida's two-year career at Nebraska. The 6-foot-11 senior has 46 career blocks in 34 contests following his four-block effort on Wednesday against Tulane.
7 - Assists by Benny Parker in Wednesday's win over Tulane, which was the most by a Husker guard since Cookie Miller had eight assists at Kansas State on Feb. 6, 2008. Prior to Wednesday's game, Parker had five assists in NU's first three games
13-6-3 - Senior guard Dylan Talley is the only player in the Big Ten who is averaging at least 13 points, six rebounds and three assists per game entering this weekend's action. Talley is currently at 13.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg and 3.0 apg.
Joe Cipriano Nebraska Classic Info
The Joe Cipriano Classic features seven teams - Nebraska, Kent State, Valparaiso, Tulane, Nebraska-Omaha, Bethune-Cookman and Chicago State - playing four games apiece from Nov. 13 to Nov. 24. The Devaney Center will serve as one of the four host sites, and the Huskers have already faced Valparaiso, Nebraska-Omaha and Tulane before hosting Kent State on Saturday.
The event honors the many contributions of Joe Cipriano to the Nebraska basketball program. He served as the Huskers' head coach from 1963 until 1980, when he died of cancer just four days short of the start of his 18th season. His teams at Nebraska posted a 253-197 record and made three postseason appearances. He was a three-time Big Eight Coach of the Year (1967, 1978 and 1980) and his 253 wins at the time of his death were 167 more than any previous basketball head coach at Nebraska. Cipriano coached the Huskers to a 20-5 record and a No. 11 national ranking in 1965-66, the Huskers' first winning season in 15 years and the most wins at Nebraska since 1920. The team is considered by many to be the best basketball team in the program's 117-year history. The following season, he guided NU to its first postseason appearance, becoming the first Big Eight program to play in the NIT and his 1967-68 squad won the Big Eight Holiday Tournament, Nebraska's only title in the event's history. In the 1970s, his teams finished below the .500 mark only once, while his most successful Husker team of the decade was in 1977-78, which tied the school record for wins at the time with a 22-8 mark and reached the quarterfinals of the NIT.
Members of the Cipriano family will be recognized during Saturday's halftime ceremony, including Randy CIpriano, who served an assistant coach from the 1981-82 through the 1985-86 seasons.
Scouting Kent State
The Golden Flashes come to Lincoln for the first time since 1992 to square off with the Big Red. Rob Senderoff is in his second season at Kent State after serving two stints as an assistant coach at KSU (2002-06, 2008-11) sandwiched in between two years at Indiana. Senderoff guided the Golden Flashes to 21-12 mark in 2011-12 highlighted by a win at West Virginia. The Golden Flashes, who were picked to finish third in the MAC Eastern Division, have reached postseason play in 13 of the last 14 years, highlighted by an NCAA Elite Eight appearance in 2001-02.
The 2012-13 Golden Flashes are led by senior Randal Holt, the squad's only returning starter. Holt averages 13.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. Senior forward Chris Evans, who was the team's sixth man in 2011-12, leads the Golden Flashes in both scoring (16.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.4 rpg) while shooting 55 percent from the floor. Kent State averages 75.2 points per game and attacks the offensive glass, averaging over 15 offensive rebounds per game.
Nebraska-Kent State Series History
Saturday's game is the third all-time meeting between the Huskers and Golden Flashes and the first since the 2000 San Juan Shootout semifinals.
Nebraska overcame a six-point deficit in the final 5:44, winning 69-68 on Kevin Augustine's jumper with 24.2 seconds remaining. Augustine, who a had 13 points, hit a jumper to beat the shot clock and give NU a one-point lead. Kent State had a chance to win, but the Huskers forced a bad shot, and Augustine got the rebound as time expired. Kimani Ffriend led NU with 19 points, 10 rebounds and six blocked shots as the Huskers shot 61.9 percent from the field.
The first matchup between the two programs was a 85-61 win over the Golden Flashes in the championship game of the 1992 Ameritas Classic. In that game, Eric Piatkowski had 23 points and 16 rebounds to earn tournament MVP honors, while Derrick Chandler added 17 points and seven rebounds.
Kent State will be the first of two MAC schools on the 2012-13 schedule, as Nebraska will face Central Michigan in the opening round of the Sun Bowl Invitational next month in El Paso. The Huskers are 17-5 all-time against schools from the Mid-American Conference, but have faced just four MAC schools since the 2000-01 season.
Last Time Out
Nebraska made the stops down the stretch when it had to, as the Huskers pulled out a 61-57 win over Tulane. Nebraska didn't allow a field goal during the final seven minutes to overcome a three-point deficit and remain unbeaten.
Trailing 55-52, the Huskers held Tulane scoreless for nearly five minutes, as seniors Dylan Talley and Andre Almeida supplied the offense. Talley's runner in the lane with 5:43 left pulled NU within one before Almeida, who did not attempt a field goal for the first 35 minutes, gave the Huskers 56-55 lead on a mid-range jumper that kissed off the glass with 4:55 left. Almeida and Talley then combined on NU's biggest offensive play down the stretch, as Talley found Almeida wide open for a dunk to put Nebraska up 59-57 with 1:45 left.
On Tulane's next possession, the Green Wave got an offensive rebound and regained possession with 1:07 left. On the inbounds play, Jordan Callahan was fouled attempting a 3-pointer. Callahan, a career 73 percent shooter from the line, missed all three attempts. Tulane had two chances to tie or take the lead in the final minute, as Josh Davis, who led all players with 19 points and 12 rebounds, could not hit a jumper to tie the game with 21 seconds left before Callahan, who finished with 16 points including a trio of 3-pointers, missed another jumper with five seconds remaining. Ray Gallegos then clinched the win, hitting a pair of free throws with three seconds left to give NU a four-point lead.
Gallegos and Dylan Talley led Nebraska with 14 points apiece.
Worth Noting from the Tulane Game
Nebraska improved to 4-0 for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
Nebraska went 10-of-19 from 3-point range which was a season high. The Huskers had just 11 3-pointers in their first three games.
Freshman Benny Parker dished out a career-high seven assists and had just one turnover in 31 minutes. The Huskers also dished out a season-best 15 assists.
Andre Almeida finished with 10 points, marking his second straight game in double figures. Almeida, who had nine of his 10 points in the second half, also blocked a season-best four shots. It marked the seventh time in his career he has blocked three or more shots in a game. Almeida also played a career-high 25 minutes for NU.
The Huskers shot 50 percent for the second time in four games, going 20-of-40 from the field.
Nebraska was 2-of-7 from the line in the first half, but went 9-fo-12 after halftime.
Shavon Shields made his Husker debut after missing Nebraska's first four games with an elbow injury.
Mike Peltz's 3-pointer in the first half marked his first career points as a Husker.
Ray Gallegos tied his career high with four 3-pointers, which he also had against Valparaiso on Nov. 15.
Tulane's 57 points was a season low, as its previous low was 61 against Georgia Tech on Nov. 9.
A Good Milestone for Tim
Tim Miles has gotten off to a fast start in his first season in charge of the Husker basketball program. Of the 27 head coaches in Nebraska basketball's 117-year history, Miles is only the sixth coach to start his Husker career with a 4-0 mark and just the second since 1920 to accomplish the feat.
Creep, Walk, Crawl, Run
With four new starters and a 10-player rotation which includes three current or former walk-ons, it has taken some time to implement a new offensive system and the headline has been a common mantra of Coach Miles during his first season on the job. NU shot just 40 percent in its lone exhibition game, but as improved to 46.3 percent through the first four games. Nebraska is also averaging just 11.5 turnovers per game despite having to replace its top three ball-handlers from last season. Last year, the Huskers averaged 16.0 turnovers in their first four contests. NU ranks fifth in turnovers per game in the Big Ten entering this weekend's action.
Ubel Looks to Expand Game
The veteran of the Husker lineup, senior Brandon Ubel has become a focal point to Nebraska's attack this season. The senior from Overland Park, Kan., leads the Huskers in both scoring (15.3 ppg) and rebounding (6.8 rpg), ranking eighth in the Big Ten in scoring and sixth in rebounding.
He is one of four players in the top 10 in the Big Ten in scoring and rebounding entering the weekend, joining preseason All-Americans Cody Zeller (Indiana) and Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State) and Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr.
Ubel began his senior year in style, posting his second career double-double with career highs of 21 points and 12 rebounds against Southern. It was the first of four consecutive double-figure efforts, as Ubel led NU in scoring with 17 points and added five rebounds against Valparaiso and added 11 points and seven rebounds in the win over UNO. He also chipped in 12 points in the win over Tulane.
The 6-foot-10 forward is the Huskers' top returning rebounder (5.3 rpg) and second-leading scorer (6.7 ppg) and has the skills that could flourish in Tim Miles' new offensive system. Throughout his career, Ubel has been one of NU's top shooters, as he is a career 80.3 percent shooter from the foul line, including 82.5 percent during his junior year. He is now just two free throw attempts from qualifying for Nebraska's career list in free throw percentage, where he would rank fourth on the Husker career list. Ubel has the shooting range that reaches out to the 3-point line, including his freshman year when he went 11-of-21 from 3-point range.
Ubel closed out his junior season by playing some of the best basketball of his career, averaging 9.3 points on 68 percent shooting, 5.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game in the Huskers' final six contests. He reached double figures in scoring seven times in 2011-12, including a season-high 17 points against Iowa on Feb. 28, on a perfect 7-of-7 shooting from the floor.
Return of the Redshirts
While Nebraska had six returning letterwinners back from the 2011-12 team, it is a pair of returning redshirts who have taken the slack from a lineup which lost four starters from last year. Senior center Andre Almeida and junior guard Ray Gallegos have played major roles early on.
Almeida missed all of last season following a knee injury after playing 30 games in 2010-11, but has been healthy and playing solid basketball early on. He is averaging 8.8 points on 54 percent shooting, 5.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, ranking sixth in the Big Ten in blocked shots. After a slow offensive start, Almeida enjoyed one of his best games of his career against UNO on Nov. 18. Almeida totaled 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting, and matched his career best with seven rebounds. Against Tulane, the 6-foot-11 center keyed Nebraska's second half effort with 10 points, six rebounds and four blocks, scoring nine of his 10 points in the second half. He also played well defensively in NU's 50-48 win over Valparaiso with five rebounds and three blocked shots
In 2010-11, he averaged 5.2 points on 56 percent shooting, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game. 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 third-ranked Texas. Almeida was a force on the defensive end, ranking sixth in the Big 12 in blocked shots.
Gallegos used his redshirt year to get stronger and worked on improving his all-around game and the signs have been evident early in the season. Gallegos is 16th in the Big Ten in scoring at 13.8 ppg while shooting 41 percent from 3-point range. He has been in double figures in all four contests after reaching double figures just three times in his first two seasons. Gallegos is third in 3-pointers per game (3.0) and ninth in the Big Ten in minutes per game (33.5) after never playing more than 30 minutes in his first two seasons. Gallegos racked up a career-high 16 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, in the opener against Southern and had 14 points, including a career high four 3-pointers, in wins over Valparaiso and Tulane.
As a sophomore, he 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 in 22 minutes of action. Gallegos is one of NU's most experienced players, as he ranks second among Husker returnees in both games played (56) and starts (5).
Talley Takes Offensive Role
Senior Dylan Talley came into the 2012-13 season as the Huskers' most proven scorer and has shown versatility early in the season. The 6-foot-5 senior enters Wednesday's game averaging 13.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game - the only player in the Big Ten averaging at least 13 points, six rebounds and three assists per game entering this weekend's action. He is among the top 20 in the Big Ten in all three categories and comes off a 14-point, seven-rebound, three-assist performance in the Huskers' 61-57 win over Tulane. Talley put together one of his best efforts of his career against UNO, scoring 22 points and added five rebounds and four assists in the Huskers' 75-62 win. He also had 17 points 7-of-12 shooting and seven rebounds against Southern and showed he was more than just an offensive threat in NU's two-point win over Valparaiso. Talley was held to one point, but topped NU in rebounds (six) and assists (four) and held Horizon League Player of the Year Ryan Broekhoff to just 2-of-11 shooting.
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. In 51 career games at the Division I level, Talley has been in double figures 28 times.
Parker Makes A Point
The lone freshman in the Husker starting lineup, Benny Parker became only the 10th freshman to start a season opener since 1995. Parker has been steady early on, averaging 6.5 points on 57 percent shooting and 3.0 assists per game. Parker is among the Big Ten leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio and has had one turnover or less in three of the Huskers' four game. Parker dished out a career-high seven assists in Nebraska's win over Tulane. Against UNO, he had eight points - all coming in the second half - after sitting most of the first half because of foul trouble. Parker had seven points, three rebounds and three assists against 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.
Of Nebraska's three active point guards playing this season, two are Division I newcomers, as junior college transfer Mike Peltz joined the team in October. Sophomore Trevor Menke is the Huskers' other primary point guard, as junior college transfer Deverell Biggs will redshirt this season.
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. Rivers' improvement has been evident early on, as he has averaged 4.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game as the Huskers' sixth man entering Saturday's game with Kent State. Rivers had seven points and five rebounds against Valparaiso and established personal bests in minutes (27), rebounds (six) and assists (three) in the opener against Southern. That followed on the heels of an exhibition game where he had nine points and five rebounds in 19 minutes off the bench.
Shields Returns to Add Depth
For the first three games, Nebraska relied on eight scholarship players, as Shavon Shields was sidelined by an elbow injury. He made his debut against Tulane and played 14 minutes after being cleared for practice on Tuesday. His return helps the Huskers depth, as NU has only nine scholarship players available for this year and one of them is former walk-on Trevor Menke. For the first three games, Nebraska only had six players crack the scoring column before Mike Peltz hit a 3-pointer in Wednesday's win over Tulane. Of NU's nine scholarship players, only four (Dylan Talley, Brandon Ubel, David Rivers and Menke) saw action during the 2011-12 season.