Huskers Search for 1st Big Ten Win at PSU
Game 19: at Penn State
Game Date: Jan. 19, 2013
Tipoff Time: 12:05 p.m. (CT)
Venue: Bryce Jordan Center
2012-13 Record: 9-9, 0-5 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 9-9 (1st year)
Career Record: 292-229 (18th year)
Penn State Nittany Lions
2012-13 Record: 8-9, 0-5 Big Ten
Head coach: Patrick Chambers
Record at Penn State: 20-29 (2nd year)
Career Record: 62-57 (4th year)
Huskers on TV/Radio/Internet
Television: ESPNU and also on WatchESPN
Television: ESPNU (DirecTV Ch. 208, Dish Ch. 141, Ch. 235 on Time Warner Cable; Ch. 220 on Cox Cable) Play-by-play: Mike Crispino
Color: Bob Valvano
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: Sirius Ch. 128
Huskers Search for 1st Big Ten Win at PSU
The Nebraska men's basketball team looks for its first Big Ten win of the season on Saturday afternoon, as the Huskers travel to Penn State to take on the Nittany Lions.
Tip-off from the Bryce Jordan Center is set for 12:05 p.m. (central) and the game will be televised nationally on ESPNU with Mike Crispino and Bob Valvano on the call. The game will also be available on the WatchESPN app for 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 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 (9-9, 0-5 B1G) look to snap a five-game losing streak following a 65-56 loss to Purdue Wednesday evening. The Huskers dug too deep of a hole, falling behind by 20 points early in the second half before a spirted run cut the Boilermaker lead to five six minutes remaining, but could get no closer.
Freshman Shavon Shields turned in a strong performance in a losing effort with game-highs in both points (18) and rebounds (eight), as the freshman set a career best in scoring. Shields, who moved into the starting lineup after Andre Almeida's ankle sprain four games ago, has given the Huskers another offensive threat, as he is averaging 9.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in that span.
The injuries to Brandon Ubel, who has missed the last two games, and Mike Peltz, who will miss the remainder of the season, has provided sophomore Jordan Tyrance an opportunity to see the most extensive playing time of his career. The walk-on has taken advantage, as he scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds in Wednesday's loss. Tyrance, who had played just 13 minutes in NU's first 16 games, has played double-figure minutes the last two games.
Penn State (8-9, 0-5 B1G) is also hungry for its first Big Ten win and comes off an 81-72 loss to No. 18 Michigan State on Wednesday. Jermaine Marshall paced all scorers with 29 points and 10 rebounds, while D.J. Newbill added 27 points and six assists in a losing effort.
By the Numbers
2 - Number of turnovers Nebraska had against Purdue, setting a school record in the process. The previous mark was three, set on three occasions, most recently against Baylor on Feb. 10, 2010.
6-to-1 - Assist to turnover ratio for Dylan Talley over Nebraska's last three games, as he has moved to the point guard spot to provide Nebraska with more offense.
40% - Nebraska is 8-0 on the season when they shoot at least 40 percent from the floor and 1-9 in games where they don't meet that mark.
7th - Strength of schedule for the Huskers in 2012-13 by RealtimeRPI as of Tuesday's games. The strength of schedule ranks second to Minnesota among Big Ten teams. In all, five Big Ten teams - Minnesota (4), Nebraska (7), Illinois (8), Indiana (19) and Michigan (21) - are among the top 25 in strength of schedule.
Scouting Penn State
Penn State comes into Saturday's game looking to snap their own five-game losing streak, as the Nittany Lions are 8-9 on the season. PSU, under second-year coach Pat Chambers, was dealt with one of the biggest injuries during non-conference play, as senior guard Tim Frazier suffered a season-ending achillies injury in November. Frazier was a first-team All-Big Ten pick by the media, leading Penn State in scoring, rebounding and assists in 2011-12. PSU split its first eight games of the season before closing non-conference play with four straight wins, scoring 70 or more points in all four contests. In Big Ten play, Penn State has struggled offensively like Nebraska, being held to 55 points in its first four games until Wednesday's loss to Michigan State.
Despite the loss of Frazier, Penn State still features two of the Big Ten's top scoring guards in junior Jermaine Marshall and sophomore D.J. Newbill. Marshall is seventh in the conference in scoring and eighth in steals (1.6 spg), while Newbill, who transferred from Southern Miss, is sixth in scoring and eighth in assists (3.9 apg).
Nebraska-Penn State Series History
Saturday's game is only the sixth meeting between the Huskers and Nittany Lions - the two most recent members of the Big Ten. Prior to the Huskers' joining the Big Ten, the teams played a home-and-home series in the early 1980s with Nebraska winning 75-50 at the Devaney Center on Dec. 9, 1980, before the Nittany Lions won 60-58 in State College in Dec. 21, 1981. The other meeting before last season came in the second round of the 1995 NIT at the Devaney Center in a 65-59 PSU win.
Last year, the teams held serve at home with Nebraska posting its first-ever Big Ten win with a 70-58 victory in Lincoln on Jan. 11 before Penn State earned the split with a 16-point win in State College on Feb. 11. In the first meeting, Bo Spencer's 19 points led four Nebraska players in double figures, as the Huskers shot 55 percent and got to the free throw line a season-high 29 times. Spencer was 10-of-12 from the charity stripe and 4-of-8 from the field while also dishing out a game-high five assists to pace the Big Red. Seniors Toney McCray (13 points) and Caleb Walker (12 points) joined Spencer in double figures, while junior Dylan Talley came off the bench to score 12 points and grab five rebounds.
In the rematch, Dylan Talley's 12 points led a pair of Huskers in double figures, but Tim Frazier's double-double led Penn State to a 67-51 victory. Frazier fell one assist shy of a triple double, finishing with 23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as Penn State snapped a five-game losing streak. Cammeron Woodyard had 11 of his 14 points in the first half, while Jermaine Marshall added 12 points as the Nittany Lions shot 52 percent from the floor. Talley led the Huskers with 12 points, including a trio of 3-pointers, while Caleb Walker added 10 points as Nebraska was held to 40 percent shooting from the floor.
Last Time Out
A career night from freshman Shavon Shields and a school record for fewest turnovers weren't enough to complete a valiant comeback attempt for the Nebraska basketball team on Wednesday, as the Huskers fell to Purdue 65-56 at the Devaney Center.
Nebraska trailed by 20 at 43-23 with 16:21 but the Huskers rallied, using a 17-3 run to cut the lead to 46-40 with 9:06 remaining. NU trimmed the lead to five with 6:03 to play, but D.J. Byrd knocked down two of his four second-half 3-pointers over the next minute and a half to help Purdue lead by at least seven the remainder of the game. The comeback effort was fueled by Shields and sophomore Jordan Tyrance. Shields scored a career-high 18 points and added a game-high-tying eight rebounds, one shy of his career high. Tyrance added 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds. Entering the night, Tyrance was 0-for-3 from the field in his career and had totaled one career point and five career rebounds.
Ray Gallegos added nine points for Nebraska, which committed only two turnovers, the fewest in school history. Previously, the Husker record was three turnovers on three different occasions. With the loss, Nebraska fell to 9-9 on the season and 0-5 in Big Ten Conference play.
Purdue put four players in double figures, led by Terone Johnson's 18 points. A.J Hammons finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, while D.J. Byrd and Ronnie Johnson added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Quick Notes From the Purdue Game
- Nebraska committed a school-record two turnovers, bettering the mark of three set on three previous occasions (vs. Baylor, Feb. 10, 2010; vs. Maryland Eastern Shore, Jan. 3, 2009; vs. Iowa State, Feb. 16, 2002)
- Nebraska fell to 0-5 in conference play for the second time in the last four seasons (also 2009-10).
- Shavon Shields had a career-high 18 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. It bettered his previous best of 14 against Jacksonville State on Dec. 18. Shields also tied for game-high honors with eight rebounds while playing a career-high 37 minutes.
- With 18 points, Shields became the sixth Husker to lead Nebraska in scoring this season and is the first freshman to pace NU in scoring since Jorge Brian Diaz had a team-high 15 points against Colorado on March 3, 2010 - a total of 73 games ago.
- Jordan Tyrance set career highs in points (10), rebounds (7) and minutes (21) against Purdue. Tyrance had just one point (coming in the 2011-12 season) and five career rebounds before his effort against the Boilermakers.
- Ray Gallegos was held to nine points, the first time in eight games he was not in double figures. The seven straight games in double figures marked the longest stretch of his career.
- Dylan Talley had a career-high four steals and matched his season high with eight rebounds. Talley also had three assists and has a 6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio over the last three games.
- Nebraska shot just 33 percent and has shot 40 percent or less in all nine losses this season.
Big Ten Loaded in RPI
The Big Ten has a reputation for being one of the best conferences in college basketball and 2012-13 is no exception. Six teams are ranked in this week's national polls and nine of the 12 teams are in the top 100 of the NCAA's RPI released on Monday, including the Huskers, who are 61st this week.
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 third in the Big Ten and 25th nationally with 10.8 turnovers per game - nearly two fewer per game than last season - and has committed 10 turnovers or less eight times this season. The Huskers had a school-record two turnovers against Purdue on Wednesday, breaking the mark of three set on the three previous occasions. In Big Ten action, the Huskers are second in the conference with 8.4 turnovers per game, trailing only Wisconsin, which has led the country in fewest turnovers in recent seasons.
Creep, Crawl, Walk, Run
With four new starters from last season and an eight-player rotation which includes only two 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 at Penn State ranked 11th (.411), 11th (.296) and ninth (.668), in those respective categories.
Nebraska scored a season-high 89 points - its highest offensive output in four seasons - before being held to 52 points in the loss to UTEP.
Offensively, NU has played better in the last week since moving Dylan Talley to more of a point guard role. In NU's first three games, the Huskers averaged just 44.0 ppg, but have averaged 56 ppg in the last two games.
Learning to win the Close Ones
While Nebraska is winless in five games, the Huskers have been in nearly every Big Ten game since the opener at then No. 8 Ohio State on Jan. 2. NU has made it a two-possession game in the last seven minutes of each of the last four games, including a chance to tie or take the lead against Big Ten leader Wisconsin and No. 22 Michigan State. Unfortunately for Nebraska, the Huskers have not been able to hang on in the waning minutes of those games.
NU was tested in close contests during non-conference action, going 3-0 in games decided by five points or less after going 4-3 in games decided by five points or less.
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 five players (Brandon Ubel, Dylan Talley, Ray Gallegos, Andre Almeida and David Rivers) have all scored at least 20 points at least once this season.
Nebraska has three players averaging at least 12.0 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 7-2, but are just 2-7 when not putting at least three players in double figures. Against Purdue, NU had two double-figure scorers (Shavon Shields and Jordan Tyrance).
Nebraska played just six scholarship players in Wednesday's loss to Purdue.
Husker Defense Has been Solid
While Nebraska's offense has been in transition, the Huskers have done a good job slowing tempo and controlling things on the defensive end.
- The Huskers are sixth in the Big Ten in scoring defense, allowing just 61.2 points per game.
- NU has held 15 of its first 18 foes under their 2012-13 scoring averages, while four teams have been held to season lows.
- The Huskers have held 17 of 18 teams to under 50 percent shooting from the field.
- Nebraska is fourth in Big Ten games in scoring defense, allowing 62.0 points per game. Nebraska held Wisconsin nearly 25 points below its season average on Jan. 6, and limited Michigan to 62 points after the Wolverines averaged 94.5 points per game in their first two Big Ten games.
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.
All five players 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 who had 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 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.
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 for the Scarlet and Cream.
While most known for his rebounding, Ubel has picked up some of the scoring slack, averaging 12.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, as he ranks among the Big Ten leaders in both categories. Ubel has missed the last two games with an elbow injury, snapping streaks of 47 consecutive starts and 96 consecutive appearances. His status for Saturday's game against Penn State has not been determined.
Ubel, who averaged only 5.7 points per game over his first three seasons at Nebraska, has become more offensive-minded as a senior, reaching double figures in 12 of the 16 games he has played.
Ubel, who had one double-double in his first three seasons at Nebraska, has three this season, a 21-point, 12-rebound effort against Southern on Nov. 11, a 17-point, 13-rebound outing in the loss to Kent State on Nov. 24, and a 15-point, 10-rebound effort against Jacksonville State on Dec. 18. He enters the week ranked third in the Big Ten in double-doubles. Ubel nearly had his fourth double-double of 2012-13 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 had a team-high 10 rebounds in Wednesday's loss to No. 2 Michigan, the fourth time this year he has grabbed double figures in rebounds, 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 at 80.1 percent. Last year, Ubel shot 82.5 percent from the foul line. Ubel is shooting 94 percent (25-of-27) from the line dating back to Dec. 15.
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.
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 Wednesday's game against Purdue averaging a team-high 13.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He is 15th in the league in scoring and third in minutes played with 35.3 per game.
Talley has been in double figures in 14 of Nebraska's first 18 contests and has topped the Huskers in scoring seven times this season. 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. It was one of three 20-point efforts for the senior, who did not score more than 18 points in any game during 2011-12. 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 three games, he has a 6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio and while scoring 11.7 points and grabbing 6.0 rebounds per game. 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 career-high five assists. Talley started at point guard against No. 22 Michigan State on Sunday and had 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 38 minutes of work. In Wednesday's loss to Purdue, he had just six points, but led the Huskers in rebounds (eight), steals (four) and assists (three).
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 squad in scoring at 13.1 points per game and ranks fifth in the Big Ten with 2.3 3-pointers per game. He has been in double figures 13 times this season after accomplishing the feat just three times in his first two years at Nebraska.
Gallegos has led the Huskers in scoring three times in conference play, including a 19-point night at No. 2 Michigan on Jan. 9. Gallegos had been in double figures in each of the last seven games, the longest stretch in his career before being held to nine points against Purdue.
Last month, 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, he scored 11 of Nebraska's first 16 points to help the Huskers get out to an early lead.
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 with 36.9 minutes per game and has logged every minute of conference play. He is the first Husker player since 2000 to play every minute of at least two conference games, and has played the last 209:56. 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.
Nebraska has enjoyed a pair of efforts with multiple 20-point games this season. Against Central Michigan, Dylan Talley (21) and David Rivers (20) both had at least 20 points in Nebraska's 89-74 win. Earlier this season, Andre Almeida and Ray Gallegos enjoyed 20-point efforts against Wake Forest on Nov. 27, marking the first time since March 5, 2007, that the Huskers had multiple players with 20-point nights. In that game, Marcus Perry (25); Aleks Maric (23) and Paul Velander (20) all eclipsed the 20-point mark.
With a short bench, the Huskers have relied on their starters often through the first half of the season. Ray Gallegos and Dylan Talley rank first and third, respectively, in the Big Ten in minutes per game while NU has three players (Gallegos, Talley and Brandon Ubel) averaging over 32 minutes per night.
With Ubel's absence, Rivers has played an average of 39.5 minutes in the three games, while Talley is at 37.5 minutes per night in that span. Gallegos has played every minute of Nebraska's last five contests.
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 6.3 points on 51 percent shooting, 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, ranking 11th in the Big Ten in blocked shots.
Almeida sprained his right ankle in the first half of the Big Ten opener at Ohio State and returned to action last week. He had two rebounds and a blocked shot in 10 minutes at No. 2 Michigan, but went scoreless in 24 minutes at Michigan State on Sunday. Almeida had eight points and four rebounds in 19 minutes during Wednesday's loss to Purdue.
Almeida 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. He made the most of his opportunities against Nicholls State with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting and six rebounds in his last game before the injury.
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.
Shields Makes Name For Himself
For nearly the first month of the year, Nebraska relied on a shortened bench, as Shavon Shields missed five of NU's first six games with an elbow injury. A layoff following the win at Wake Forest helped Shields get back into game action, and the freshman has provided a much-needed boost.
On the season, Shields is averaging 6.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game while averaging 25.2 minutes per game. In Big Ten play, he has continued to make strides, raising his scoring and rebounding numbers from his non-conference totals. The 6-foot-6 freshman has been a force on the glass in recent games, averaging a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game over Nebraska's last eight contests.
Shields has grabbed at least six rebounds in all five of Nebraska's Big Ten games, including a personal-best nine rebounds at No. 8 Ohio State on Jan. 2 and eight rebounds in his first career start against Wisconsin on Jan. 6. Shields had nine points and six rebounds in Sunday's loss to No. 22 Michigan State. He put together his best effort of the season in Wednesday's loss to Purdue with a career-high 18 points and eight rebounds, becoming the first freshman to lead the Huskers in scoring in four seasons.
Among Big Ten freshmen, he is second only to Purdue's A.J. Hammons in rebounds, pulling down 7.4 caroms per game in Big Ten action.
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 career-high 14 points, hitting 6-of-7 shots from the field and also added three rebounds and two steals to help NU snap a two-game losing streak.
His return helps the Huskers depth, as NU has only nine scholarship players available for the 2012-13 season, a total which includes former walk-on Trevor Menke. Of NU's nine scholarship players, only four (Dylan Talley, Brandon Ubel, David Rivers and Menke) saw action for the Huskers during the 2011-12 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 and has made significant strides.
Rivers' improvement has been evident, as he is averaging 5.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game while playing in all 18 contests. He has been at his best in recent games, averaging 8.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game over the Huskers' last eight games. Rivers is shooting 58 percent from the field in that stretch and has put together the first three double-figure efforts of his career.
He made his first career start in Sunday's loss at No. 22 Michigan State, 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 was held to five points in 39 minutes against Purdue on Wednesday.
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. Prior to that game, Rivers turned an ankle against Oregon and played just 11 minutes in NU's previous two contests.
Against Nicholls State on Dec. 29, Rivers cracked double figures for the second time in three games, totaling 12 points, six rebounds and a pair of steals in 28 minutes. He came off the bench to add seven points and four rebounds at No. 8 Ohio State on Jan. 2 after not scoring in Big Ten play as a freshman.
Parker Makes A Point
One of two freshmen who has started this year, Benny Parker became only the 10th freshman to start a season opener since 1995. Parker has been steady, averaging 3.2 points and 2.4 assists per game. Parker has a 1.5 assist-to-turnover ratio and has committed one turnover or less in nine of NU's first 18 games.
The Kansas City, Kan., native has shown his toughness over the last month, battling foot and knee injuries and not missed any game action. He originally suffered the knee sprain in practice on Dec. 10, but played 27 minutes in the Huskers' loss at Oregon five days later.
His best performance in Big Ten action was against Wisconsin on Jan. 6, when he had just one turnover in the Huskers' loss to the Badgers while playing a career-high 31 minutes. He came off the bench against Michigan State and had two assists and two steals in 20 minutes of work.
Parker dished out 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. Against No. 16 Creighton, Parker was held scoreless, but had five assists in the losing effort.
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 after walking on in October but will miss the remainder of the season following knee surgery. Sophomore Trevor Menke is the Huskers' other primary point guard, as junior college transfer Deverell Biggs is redshirting this season.
Huskers Have Relied on Walk-Ons this season
With the limited depth, Nebraska has relied on walk-ons Mike Peltz and Jordan Tyrance to play significant roles this season.
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 will have a patella tendon debridement on his left knee, and 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.
In recent games, Jordan Tyrance has become an important part of the rotation following the injury to Brandon Ubel. The 6-foot-4 guard has given the Huskers solid efforts off the bench, including career highs of 10 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes against Purdue on Wednesday night. Tyrance is a second-generation Husker, as both his father and mother were all-conference performers at NU. He also played 12 minutes at No. 22 Michigan State, totaling two blocked shots and two assists after playing just 13 minutes in NU's first 16 contests.