Game 31: at Iowa
Game Date: March 9, 2013
Tipoff Time: 1:21 p.m. (CT)
Venue: Carver-Hawkeye Arena
2012-13 Record: 14-16, 5-12 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 14-16 (1st year)
Career Record: 297-236 (18th year)
2012-13 Record: 19-11, 8-9 Big Ten
Head coach:: Fran McCaffery
Record at Iowa: 48-48 (3rd year)
Career Record: 299-225 (17th year)
Huskers on TV/Radio/Internet
Television: BTN and BTN2Go
(Ch. 610 on DirecTV; Chs. 439, 9500 on DISH; Chs. 24 and 333-SD, 1333-HD on Time Warner Cable; Chs. 80 SD, 1080-HD on Cox Cable)
Play-by-play: Wayne Larrivee
Analyst: Shon Morris
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
Satellite Radio: Sirius Ch. 94, XM 191
Huskers Close Regular Season at Iowa
The Nebraska men's basketball team ends the regular season Saturday afternoon, as the Huskers travel to Iowa City to take on the Hawkeyes. Tip-off is slated for 1:21 p.m. with Wayne Larrivee and Shon Morris on the call. Wednesday's matchup is also available on BTN2GO on iOS or android devices.
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 Jeff Culhane 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.
Following Wednesday's 53-51 win over Minnesota and Penn State's win over Northwestern Thursday night, the Huskers have locked up the No. 10 seed in next week's Big Ten Tournament. With one weekend of action remaining, Nebraska could potentially face one of four teams in Thursday's first round (Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue).
Nebraska (14-16, 5-12 Big Ten) put together one of its best defensive performances of the season in Wednesday's 53-51 win over Minnesota. The Huskers held Minnesota to 38 percent shooting, including 23 percent from 3-point range after the Gophers scored 84 points in the first meeting in Minneapolis in January.
The Huskers received strong performances from its senior class, as Dylan Talley, Andre Almeida and Brandon Ubel combined for 31 points and 14 rebounds against the Golden Gophers. Ubel scored the Huskers' final 10 points to give the Huskers a victory in its final regular-season home game at the Devaney Center. Talley joined Ubel in double figures with 12 points and three assists, while Almeida anchored the Husker defense with five rebounds and three blocked shots in 18 minutes of action.
The Huskers will see a motivated Iowa team on Saturday which is looking to finish Big Ten play with a .500 mark. The Hawkeyes (19-11, 8-9 Big Ten) are coming off a 63-55 win over Illinois on Tuesday, as Roy Devyn Marble led all players with 21 points, six rebounds and four assists. NU and Iowa played less than two weeks ago, as Nebraska overcame a 19-point deficit in a 64-60 win on Feb. 23.
By the Numbers
5 - Number of times Brandon Ubel has led the Huskers in scoring this season following Wednesday's 15-point effort. Ubel has led NU in scoring 10 times in his career.
8 - Number of times that Andre Almeida has had three or more blocks in a game this season. His three blocks tied his personal best in Big Ten play (also vs. OSU, PSU).
23 - Consecutive free throws by Dylan Talley dating back to Jan. 29. Talley has raised his free throw percentage from 67 percent to 74 percent in the last eight contests.
91.6 - Brandon Ubel's free throw percentage in true road games over the past three years (32 games). This season, he is 19-of-19 on the road from the foul line.
123 - Career appearance for Brandon Ubel when he takes the court against Iowa. The total ties for the ninth-highest total in school history.
6,117,181 - Attendance at the Devaney Center for men's basketball over the last 37 years.
Iowa has closed the regular season with a flourish, winning five of its last seven games to have a chance to finish Big Ten play at .500. The Hawkeyes are 19-11 on the season following a 63-55 win over Illinois on Tuesday night.
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 five wins in their last seven contests, losing only at Nebraska in the first meeting of the year on Feb. 23, and then No. 1 Indiana.
Iowa is one of the most balanced teams in the league, as the Hawkeyes play 10 players and only one player averages more than 30 minutes per game. Junior guard Roy Devyn Marble leads the Hawkeyes in scoring at 14.4 ppg and is second on the team with 81 assists. Marble, who has played point guard since Mike Gesell was sidelined two weeks ago, has sparked the late-season surge by averaging 19.3 points per contest. Sophomore forward Aaron White joins Marble in double figures by averaging 13.4 points and a team-high 6.2 points per game.
Nebraska-Iowa Series History
The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series, 13-9 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 has won just twice in 11 trips to Iowa City, posting wins in 1941 and in 2012. In that game, Brandon Richardson had a career-high 25 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the field, including six 3-pointers. It is Nebraska's third-oldest series against a Big Ten team, trailing only Minnesota and Wisconsin. Nebraska is 2-1 against Iowa since joining the Big Ten prior to the 2011-12 season.
Last Meeting with Iowa
Dylan Talley's 3-pointer with 9.2 seconds left broke a 60-all tie, lifting Nebraska to a 64-60 win over Iowa on Feb. 23
With the score tied at 60, Nebraska got the ball with 44 seconds left after Brandon Ubel drew a charge on Roy Devyn Marble. Nebraska took a timeout with 20 seconds left to set up its final possession. Talley, a 6-foot-5 senior guard, took several seconds before he stopped and pulled up for a long 3-pointer over Mike Gesell to put the Huskers ahead. Iowa came down quickly after Talley's basket and got off a shot to tie, but Gesell missed a game-tying shot. Iowa then fouled Ray Gallegos, who split a pair of free throws, to give NU a four-point lead.
Talley finished with a game-high 18 points, including 7-of-11 shooting in the second half to lead the Huskers back from a 19-point first half deficit. He was one of four Huskers in double figures, as Shavon Shields had 17 points and seven rebounds, while Brandon Ubel and Ray Gallegos added 12 and 11 points, respectively. Nebraska played some of its best basketball of the season in the second half, shooting 63 percent from the field in out-scoring the Hawkeyes, 39-19 after Iowa built a 41-25 halftime advantage.
Last Time Out
It was a closing night to remember, as Brandon Ubel scored all 15 points in the second half to lead Nebraska to a 53-51 win over Minnesota Wednesday evening at the Devaney Center.
Ubel willed the Huskers (14-16, 5-12 Big Ten) down the stretch, scoring the Huskers final 10 points to keep Minnesota at bay. His 3-point play with 2:02 left broke a 46-all deadlock and gave NU the lead for good while he salted away the final game in the Devaney Center by hitting four straight free throws in the final 11 seconds to preserve a hard-fought win.
Dylan Talley joined Ubel in double figures with 12 points, as Nebraska went 16-of-20 from the line including 13-of-14 in the second half. NU's third senior, Andre Almeida, played a major role in limiting a Golden Gopher attack that scored 84 in the first matchup in Minneapolis. Almeida gave the Huskers 18 minutes off the bench, grabbing five rebounds and blocking three shots while he added a pair of baskets.
The final game after 37 years in the Devaney Center featured plenty of drama, as Minnesota (20-10, 8-9 Big Ten) had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds. With eight seconds left, a five-second call on the Huskers gave the ball to the Golden Gophers under the Husker basket. Minnesota got the ball to Maverick Ahanmisi for a game-tying attempt, but his 3-pointer was off the mark, and Ubel grabbed the rebound and dribbled to the front court where he was fouled with 0.9 seconds left. Ubel sank both free throws to give NU a five-point lead before Andre Hollins' 3-pointer at the buzzer provided the final margin.
Quick Notes From the Minnesota Game
- Nebraska's final wins at both the NU Coliseum (vs. Iowa State, 1976) and Devaney Center (vs. Minnesota, 2013) took place on March 6.
- Nebraska's first two games in the Devaney Center in 1976-77 were losses to Iowa and Minnesota, while the Huskers' final two games in the Devaney Center were victories over Iowa and Minnesota.
- Nebraska finishes with an 11-7 home record this season and posted an all-time record of 447-148 in 37 years in the Devaney Center.
- Brandon Ubel led Nebraska with 15 points, his highest total in Big Ten play. Ubel scored all 15 points in the second half, including the Huskers final 10 points. Ubel also had a season-high four assists in the win.
- Nebraska held Minnesota to 51 points tonight. The Golden Gophers scored 84 in the win on Jan. 29, the most Nebraska has given up this season.
- Andre Almeida had three blocks, the eighth time this season he has had three or more blocks in a game.
- Nebraska matched Minnesota on the boards tonight after losing the battle of the boards by 17 (36-19) in the first meeting.
Huskers Look to Finish Strong
While Nebraska knows when it will play in next Thursday's Big Ten Tournament opener, the Huskers still have plenty to play for on Saturday against Iowa.
- With a win, the Huskers would finish conference play with six wins in their final 13 conference games after opening Big Ten play with five straight losses.
- The Huskers are bidding for their first conference win streak since winning three straight games (Oklahoma State, at Oklahoma, Texas) during the 2010-11 campaign.
- With a win, Nebraska would pick up its second conference road win of the season, the first time since 2009 that has occurred for the Huskers.
- Nebraska will go for its second conference sweep of the season, as the Huskers won both meetings with Penn State. The last time Nebraska swept two regular-season series with conference foes was in 1998-99 (Kansas and Colorado).
- A win would mark the first time Nebraska has posted consecutive road wins over a conference foe since wins at Missouri during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.
Huskers Top 2011-12 Win Total
Entering the final weekend of the season, the Huskers have already eclipsed last year's totals in wins and conference wins despite playing one of the nation's toughest schedules.
In the preseason poll of Big Ten beat writers, the Huskers were nearly a consensus choice to finish 12th by 23 of the 24 beat writers around the league. That was based on the fact that Nebraska returned one starter and one of its top six scorers from last year.
No matter what happens this weekend, the Huskers will finish 10th in the final conference standings. Nebraska has the tiebreaker on Northwestern, based on a 64-49 win on Jan. 26.
NU's strength of schedule is ninth nationally entering this weekend's action, and 13 of the Huskers' 16 losses in 2012-13 are against teams currently in the top 50 of the RPI. With 13 wins in his first season at Nebraska, Tim Miles compares favorably with the other first-year win totals of Big Ten coaches.
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 10th nationally with 10.8 turnovers per game - two fewer per game than last season - and has committed 10 turnovers or less 13 times this season, including four of the past five games. Five of the top 11 teams in the country reside in the Big Ten, including Wisconsin, which leads the country with the fewest turnovers per game. Earlier this season, Nebraska set a school record with two turnovers against Purdue on Jan. 16, breaking the mark of three set on three previous occasions.
Creep, Crawl, Walk, Run
With four new starters from last season and a seven-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 10th (.406), 10th (.309) and eighth (.692) in those respective categories. When Nebraska has put up points, they have enjoyed success, going 11-4 when scoring at least 60 points.
During the second half of Big Ten play, Dylan Talley has emerged as one of the Big Ten's top offensive threats. The 6-foot-5 point guard is averaging 17.9 ppg over the last seven games, including three 20-point games in the last five contests.
Learning to Win the Close Ones
Despite a 5-12 Big Ten record, the Huskers have been in many of its conference games until the final minutes. In six of NU's 12 losses, the Huskers have been within two possessions in the final seven minutes of the contest, including three times against ranked foes.
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. Against Iowa on Feb. 23, the Huskers trailed by five with six minutes left, but closed the game on a 14-5 run to pick up the win. Nebraska had a golden chance in the final minutes at Illinois last Saturday, as the Huskers were down 64-62 with three minutes remaining, but could not pull off the upset. On Wednesday, the Huskers held off Minnesota down the stretch, as Nebraska's largest lead in the final 10 minutes was five points.
Nebraska is now 6-0 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.
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 eight-man 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 much improved next year, as Miles signed three players in the fall and still has two scholarships available for the spring signing period.
Talley Peaks Down the Stretch
Senior Dylan Talley has been playing the best basketball of his career over the last month. The senior is averaging 18.7 ppg over Nebraska's last seven games, including a trio of 20-point efforts. Last week, Talley averaged 20.5 ppg in road games at Wisconsin and at Illinois. Against Wisconsin, he led the Huskers in scoring, rebounding and assists for the first time in his career while he had 20 points, five rebounds and five assists at Illinois. Over the last four games, the only time he didn't score 20 points was in the win over Iowa when he had 18 points, including a game-winning 3-pointer with nine seconds left.
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. The three players in double figures would be the first time its happened for the Huskers since the 2005-06 season.
When Nebraska has three or more players in double figures, the Huskers are 11-4, but are just 3-12 when not putting at least three players in double figures following the win over Minnesota.
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, as the Huskers are ninth in the Big Ten in scoring defense at 63.6 points per game.
- NU has held 22 of its 30 foes under their 2012-13 scoring averages. Only nine teams have scored 70 against the Huskers this season, as Minnesota's 84 points on Jan. 29 were a season high against the Huskers. NU held the Gophers to 51 points in the rematch on March 5.
- The Huskers have held 26 of 30 teams to under 50 percent shooting from the field, including 13 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.
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, setting career bests in both scoring (11.3 ppg) and rebounding (6.7 rpg). His rebounding average is on pace to be the highest for a Husker since Aleks Maric averaged 10.2 rebounds per game in 2007-08.
He has been in double figures in 10 games this year, which exceeds his double-figure games over the first three years at Nebraska. Ubel also has a team-high four double-doubles in 2012-13 (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 led the Huskers to a win over Minnesota with 15 points, six rebounds and four assists. He scored all 15 points in the second half, including the Huskers' final 10 points to earn their first win over a top-50 RPI team this season. In NU's win over Iowa on Feb. 23 , he scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds, marking the fourth time in a five-game stretch where he had at least eight caroms. He has shown toughness this season, suffering an elbow injury at Michigan on Jan. 9 and missed two games - the first time he has missed time since his freshman year. His best game in conference play was against Northwestern when he scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, including five offensive boards.
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 and is at a 79.6 percent clip this season.
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 is averaging a team-high 14.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He is ninth in the conference in scoring and third in minutes played with 35.3 per game.
Talley has been in double figures in a team-high 23 contests and has topped the Huskers in scoring 14 times this season, including a career-high 28 point performance against No. 8 Michigan State on Feb. 16. Over the last five games, Talley is averaging 19.8 points per game, including a 21-point, eight-rebound effort at Wisconsin and 20 points, five rebounds and five assists at Illinois. He also scored 18 points in a win over Iowa in NU's comeback win on Feb. 23. Against the Hawkeyes, he scored 16 of his points in the second half, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 9.2 seconds left.
In the loss against Michigan State, Talley hit 8-of-16 shots, including four 3-pointers en route to the most points by a Spartan opponent this season. 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 has become more of the Huskers' point guard after Nebraska averaged just 44 points in its first three Big Ten games, and that has sparked the attack. He is averaging 15.4 ppg since then while Nebraska is averaging 58.7 points per game over the last 14 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 development 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 in 2012-13.
Gallegos, who averaged 2.6 points per game in 2010-11, is second on the team in scoring at 12.5 ppg and leads the Big Ten with 74 3-pointers, a total which is fifth on NU's single-season list. He has reached double figures 20 times this season after accomplishing the feat just three times in his first two seasons at Nebraska.
Gallegos has led the Huskers in scoring five 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. At Illinois on March 4, he led NU with 23 points, including six 3-pointers - the third time this season he totaled six 3-pointers in a game.
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 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 10th nationally with 37.5 minutes per game. He played in every minute of NU's first five Big Ten games and has sat just 20 minutes in conference play entering Saturday's game at Iowa. His minutes per game are the most since Dave Hoppen averaged 38.5 minutes per game in 1984-85.
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 8.0 points and 5.2 rebounds per game while averaging 27.9 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 9.4 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 five times in Big Ten play, most recently a 17-point performance in the win over Iowa on Feb. 23, earning Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Week honors for the second time this season. Shields collected his first career double-double with a 19-point, 13-rebound effort against No. 8 Michigan State on Feb. 16.
Shields set career highs in consecutive games in January, 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 freshman 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.
In Big Ten play, Shields is second among Big Ten freshman in rebounding and has grabbed at least six rebounds 11 times in conference games, including 13 rebounds against No. 8 Michigan State on Feb. 16 and nine rebounds at No. 8 Ohio State on Jan. 2.
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 6.0 points and 3.5 rebounds per game while playing in all 30 contests. He has become a consistent performer for the Huskers, averaging 7.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per game over the last eight games after averaging 5.6 points and 3.1 rebounds, respectively, per game entering February. Rivers had seven points and a game-high six rebounds in Wednesday's win over Minnesota.
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 on Feb. 9, Rivers had nine points, six rebounds and a career-best five assists and had seven points and two rebounds in the loss to No. 8 Michigan State on Feb. 16. Rivers had seven points and a season-high five rebounds at Illinois on Saturday.
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.