Huskers Travel to Illinois Saturday Afternoon
Game 29: at Illinois
Game Date: March 2, 2013
Tipoff Time: 4:15 p.m. (CT)
Venue: Assembly Hall
2012-13 Record: 13-15, 4-11 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 13-15 (1st year)
Career Record: 296-235 (18th year)
Illinois Fighting Illini
2012-13 Record: 20-9, 7-8 Big Ten
Head coach: John Groce
Record at Illinois: 20-9 (1st year)
Career Record: 105-65 (5th 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: Tim Doyle
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: Jeff Culhane
Internet Radio/Stats: Free on Huskers.com
Satellite Radio (WIS feed): Sirius Ch. 92, XM Ch. 199
Huskers to Face off with Illini
Nebraska looks for its second Big Ten road win of the season Saturday afternoon, as the Huskers travel to Illinois for a Big Ten matchup. Tip-off from the Assembly Hall is set for 4:15 p.m. and the game will be televised nationally on BTN with Wayne Larrivee and Tim Doyle on the call. Saturday's matchup with Illinois 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 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.
Nebraska ran into a hot-shooting Wisconsin team Tuesday night, as the No. 17 Badgers hit eight of their first 10 3-pointers and finished the night shooting 51 percent from the floor in a 77-46 setback. Entering the Wisconsin game, one of the Huskers' biggest strengths in Big Ten play was their defense against the 3-pointer, as Nebraska ranked second in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal defense, allowing only 30 percent from long range in conference play. Last year, NU was eighth in the conference in 3-point field goal defense, allowing 36 percent in Big Ten play.
One of the few highlights for the Huskers against the Badgers was the play of senior point guard Dylan Talley, who led all scorers with 21 points and matched his season best with eight rebounds. The 6-foot-5 senior has been playing some of the best basketball of his career over the last three weeks. Talley is averaging 19.8 ppg over the last five games, a stretch which includes the top three teams in the Big Ten standings (Indiana, Michigan State and Wisconsin).
For the second straight game, the Huskers will face a rested foe, as Illinois (20-9, 7-8 Big Ten) has been off since a 71-58 loss to No. 4 Michigan on Feb. 24.The Illini have been a streaky team in Big Ten play, dropping six of seven games at one point before rolling off five straight wins, including a win over No. 1 Indiana on Feb. 7. The Huskers look to avenge a 71-51 loss to Illinois in Lincoln on Jan. 22.
By the Numbers
1- Tuesday's effort against Wisconsin was the first time Dylan Talley has led Nebraska in points (21), rebounds (8) and assists (3) in the same game during his two-year Husker career. The only other Husker to accomplish the feat in 2012-13 was Brandon Ubel against Jacksonville State on Dec. 18.
6 - Number of 20-point games for senior Dylan Talley this season. Prior to this season, Talley had only three - all of which came during the 2009-10 season at Binghamton University.
9 - No. 17 Wisconsin was the ninth ranked opponent Nebraska has faced this season, which is the Huskers' highest total since the 1996-97 season. Nine of Nebraska's 15 losses are to ranked teams.
Illinois is 20-9 mark on the season and looks to crack the .500 mark in Big Ten play with a 7-8 record. The Fighting Illini have been off since a 71-58 loss at No. 4 Michigan last Sunday, and have had both of their byes in Big Ten play prior to playing Nebraska.
John Groce is in his first year at Illinois after guiding the Ohio Bobcats to a 29-8 record and a berth in the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2012. Before taking the OU job, Groce was an assistant at Ohio State, Xavier and North Carolina State.
The Fighting Illini were one of the Big Ten's biggest surprises in non-conference play, going a perfect 12-0 and were ranked in the top-10 in the national polls. The non-conference slate was highlighted by winning the Maui Invitational, including a 78-61 win over Butler in the title game, and an 85-74 win at Gonzaga on Dec. 4.
In Big Ten action, Illinois has been streaky, losing six of seven games at one point before putting together a five-game win streak, including a 74-72 win over No. 1 Indiana on Feb. 7. Saturday's game is Illinois' last home Big Ten game, as they will finish the regular season with road games at Iowa and Ohio next week.
Illinois is one of the most experienced teams in the Big Ten, returning four starters and nine letterwinners from a squad that was ranked for much of the year before fading down the stretch. The Illini have been very good at forcing turnovers, leading the Big Ten in conference play at 13.5 per game and pacing the conference in turnover margin (+2.3 per game). The Illini have been solid defensively in recent games, holding four of their last five opponents under 60 points dating back to a 57-53 win at Minnesota on Feb. 10.
Senior guard Brandon Paul is one of the most explosive players in the Big Ten, as he is fourth in the conference in scoring at 16.2 ppg, including 62 3-pointers, while dishing out 82 assists. D.J. Richardson has been solid, averaging 12.8 ppg and has team highs in 3-pointers (68) and steals (42), while point guard Tracy Abrams averages 10.6 points and 3.4 assists per game.
Nebraska-Illinois Series History
Illinois leads the all-time series, 9-3, that dates back to 1921, and has won two of the three matchups since the Huskers joined the Big Ten last season. The two teams split the two meetings during the 2011-12 season. Illinois won the first matchup with a 59-54 victory, as Joseph Bertrand scored 17 of his 25 points in the second half and hit 11 of 12 shots from the floor. Nebraska gained revenge in the rematch in Lincoln with an 80-57 rout, as Bo Spencer's 29-point effort led four Huskers in double figures. Last year's matchups marked the first time Nebraska had faced Illinois on the road since 1976. Nebraska is just 1-6 all-time in Champaign and has not won since Jan. 1,1920, a 30-25 victory.
Last Meeting vs. Illinois
Behind a career-high 30 points from D.J. Richardson, Illinois posted a 71-51 win over Nebraska in a physical Big Ten contest at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Jan. 22. Richardson hit a career-high six three-pointers, while nearly doubling his previous season high of 16 points. The senior scored 20 of his 30 points in the second half, as Illinois snapped a three-game losing streak. Despite his hot shooting, Nebraska was in position to make it a game down the stretch, cutting a 12-point halftime deficit to 51-44 with 8:11 left, but Richardson's 3-pointer highlighted a 7-0 Illini run that pushed the lead to 14, and NU was unable to cut the deficit back into single digits. Nebraska was held without a field goal for the last eight minutes and shot just 31.8 percent from the field and just 2-of-14 from 3-point range. Dylan Talley led Nebraska with 16 points, while Brandon Ubel had 10 points and six rebounds in a losing effort.
Last Time Out
Wisconsin was red hot on a cold snowy night, as the No. 17 Badgers topped Nebraska 77-46 Tuesday evening at the Kohl Center. The Badgers shot 51 percent from the field and hit 12 3-pointers, a season best for a Husker opponent, en route to improving to 20-8 on the season and 11-4 in Big Ten action. Sam Dekker had 19 points off the bench, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, to lead three Badgers in double figures.
Wisconsin took control with a 24-2 run midway through the half, turning an early deficit into a 21-point lead and never looked back in completing the season sweep of the Huskers. Dylan Talley led Nebraska with 21 points - his sixth 20-point game of the season - and grabbed eight rebounds, while Brandon Ubel had 10 points and six rebounds before fouling out. The Huskers shot just 32.8 percent from the floor on the night and were never able to get untracked after Wisconsin's decisive run midway through the first half.
The Badgers shot the lights out in the first half, hitting 59 percent from the floor, including 8-of-13 from long range to build a 44-23 advantage.
Nebraska used an early 8-0 run to take a 10-8 lead after a Ubel basket and led 12-11 after a Talley bucket before the Badgers took control. UW ran off 10 straight points, including 3-pointers from George Marshall and Dekker, to take a nine point lead before a Ubel basket ended the run. Dekker, who had 13 points off the bench in the first half, keyed a 14-0 run with eight points in helping the Badgers extend their lead to 35-14, as Wisconsin hit seven of their first nine from 3-point range. Nebraska chipped away, as Talley, who had 12 first-half points, ran off seven straight points to pull Nebraska within 35-21, but could get no closer, as Wisconsin closed the half on a 9-2 spurt to take a 21-point lead into the locker room. Any hopes for an upset ended early in the second half, as the Huskers went ice cold, missing 17 of their first 18 shots in the second half as Wisconsin opened the half on a 20-3 run and led by as many as 38 in the second half.
Quick Notes From the Wisconsin Game
- Dylan Talley's 21 points marked the sixth time this season he has had at least 20 points, including three times in Big Ten play. Talley also became only the second Husker this year to lead NU in scoring, rebounds and assists in the same game (Ubel vs. Jacksonville State).
- Nebraska fell to 0-9 against ranked teams this season, as the nine ranked opponents ties for the third most in program history.
- Nebraska was held to 46 points, the fifth time Nebraska has been held to under 50 points in Big Ten play.
- Wisconsin's 12 3-pointers were the most against Nebraska all year. Prior to Tuesday, NU's season-high allowed was eight.
- Nebraska committed 10 turnovers, the fifth time in six games NU has had 10 turnovers or less.
- Wisconsin's 14-0 run in the first half was the largest run allowed by the Huskers this season.
- Nebraska tied Big Ten lows in both free throws made (three) and attempted (five), both coming against Wisconsin on the first matchup.
Huskers Top 2011-12 Win Total
The Huskers picked up their 13th win of the season against Iowa on Feb. 23, eclipsing NU's total for the 2011-12 season. Nebraska's win against the Hawkeyes was also its fourth Big Ten win, matching last year's season total.
In the preseason poll of the media, the Huskers were nearly a consensus choice to finish 12th by 23 of the 24 beat writers around the league. With three Big Ten games remaining, Nebraska can finish no lower than the No. 11 seed, based on holding tiebreakers with both Northwestern and Penn State.
Despite losing four starters and seven of the team's top nine scorers from last year, Nebraska has made strides, improving its win total while playing one of the nation's toughest schedules.
NU's strength of schedule is 16th nationally entering this weekend's action, and 12 of the Huskers' 15 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 in the 14th nationally with 10.9 turnovers per game - two fewer per game than last season - and has committed 10 turnovers or less 12 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.
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 Illinois ranked 10th (.406), 11th (.301) and eighth (.688), in those respective categories.
When Nebraska has put up points, they have enjoyed success, going 11-3 when scoring at least 60 points.
One adjustment the Huskers made in January is going to a bigger lineup and moving senior Dylan Talley to the point guard spot prior to the first matchup with Michigan State on Jan. 13. Over the last 13 games, Talley and the Huskers have responded well, averaging 15.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game, while Nebraska has averaged nearly 15 more points per game since then in their first three Big Ten contests.
Learning to Win the Close Ones
Despite a 4-11 Big Ten record, the Huskers have been in many of its conference games until the final mintues. In five of NU's 11 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 last Saturday, the Huskers trailed by five with six minutes left, but closed the game on a 14-5 run to pick up the win.
Nebraska is 5-0 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. 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 2-11 when not putting at least three players in double figures following Tuesday's loss at Wisconsin.
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 much improved next year, as Miles signed three players in the fall and still has two scholarships available for the spring signing period.
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 63.2 points per game.
- NU has held 21 of its 28 foes under their 2012-13 scoring averages. Only eight 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 24 of 28 teams to under 50 percent shooting from the field, including 12 teams to under 40 percent, including Iowa last Saturday.
- Nebraska held Penn State to 29.3 percent shooting on Feb. 9, 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 (6.8 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 19 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 had 10 points and six rebounds before fouling out at Wisconsin on Tuesday night. In the win over Iowa, 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 enters the Wisconsin game averaging a team-high 14.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. He is eighth 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 22 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 four games, Talley is averaging 19.8 points per game, following an 18-point effort against Iowa on Saturday. and a 21-point, eight rebound effort at No. 17 Wisconsin. 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 15.3 ppg since then while Nebraska is averaging 58.7 points per game over the last 12 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 unexpected 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 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 12.3 ppg and is third in the Big Ten with 66 3-pointers this season, which is seventh on Nebraska's single-season list. He needs only four 3-pointers to become the sixth Husker to connect on 70 3-pointers in a season. Gallegos has reached double figures 19 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 on Feb. 9, 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. He had struggled in his last two games before bouncing back with an 11-point effort in the win over Iowa on Saturday. Gallegos had six points, two assists and a pair of steals at No. 17 Wisconsin on Tuesday.
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 12th 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 20 minutes in Big Ten play entering Saturday's game at Wisconsin.
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 8.0 points and 5.2 rebounds per game while averaging 27.3 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 6.3 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 19-point, 13-rebound effort against No. 8 Michigan State on Feb. 16 and a 17-point performance in the win over Iowa on Feb. 23. Shields earned his second Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Week honor Monday, as he had 17 points and seven rebounds in the Huskers' win over Iowa.
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 in 10 of the Huskers' 15 Big Ten 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 5.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game while playing in all 28 contests. He has become a consistent performer for the Huskers, averaging 7.2 points and 4.0 rebounds per game this month after averaging 5.6 points and 3.1 rebounds, respectively, per game entering February. 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 was held to two points on 1-of-8 shooting in Tuesday's loss at No. 17 Wisconsin.
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.