Huskers Host Gophers in Devaney Finale
Game 30: vs. Minnesota
Game Date: March 6, 2013
Tipoff Time: 8:06 p.m. (CT)
Venue: Devaney Center
2012-13 Record: 13-16, 4-12 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 13-16 (1st year)
Career Record: 296-236 (18th year)
Minnesota Golden Gophers
2012-13 Record: 20-9, 8-8 Big Ten
Head coach: Tubby Smith
Record at Minnesota: 123-77 (6th year)
Career Record: 510-222 (22nd 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: Kevin Kugler
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: Matt Davison
Internet Radio/Stats: Free on Huskers.com
Satellite Radio: Sirius Ch. 104
Devaney Legends Poster (First 10,000 fans)
Huskers will wear 1976-77 throwback jerseys
$1 24-ounce Pepsi products and $1 Popcorn (limit 2 per purchase)
Free Legends Autograph Session (7-7:45 p.m.)
Senior Night (7:45)
Devaney Center Tribute/All-Devaney Team
Huskers Host Gophers in Devaney Finale
The Nebraska men's basketball team wraps up a 37-year run in the Bob Devaney Sports Center Wednesday evening, as the Huskers play host to the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Senior Night.
Tip-off is slated for 8:06 p.m. and tickets are on sale for $10 and $15 for the final home game of the season by visiting Huskers.com, calling the Devaney Center Ticket Office at 1-800-8-BIGRED or at the Devaney Center at 6:30 p.m. Fans will be able to purchase $1 Pepsi products and popcorn throughout the evening and Husker legends Dave Hoppen, Eric Piatkowski and Erick Strickland will be signing autographs for fans in the main concourse from 7 p.m. until 7:45. In addition, the first 10,000 fans will receive a special poster honoring the All-Devaney team.
The Huskers game with Minnesota will be televised nationally on BTN with Kevin Kugler and Tim Doyle on the call. Wednesday's matchup is also available on BTN2GO on iOS or android devices.
Wednesday'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 will honor its three seniors - Andre Almeida, Dylan Talley and Brandon Ubel - during pregame ceremonies slated to start at 7:45 p.m. All three have played major roles in helping Nebraska improve its win total from last year despite losing four starters from last year's team. The trio combines for over 30 points and 15 rebounds per game, including the team's leading scorer (Talley, 14.4 ppg), rebounder (Ubel, 6.7 rpg) and shot blocker (Almeida, 1.1 bpg).
Nebraska gave Illinois all they wanted before falling 72-65 Saturday evening. The Huskers (13-16, 4-12 Big Ten) got strong efforts from Dylan Talley, who had 20 points, five rebounds and five assists, and Ray Gallegos, who led all scorers with 23 points, including six 3-pointers. Nebraska led 57-55 with six minutes remaining, but could not hold off the Illini down the stretch.
By the Numbers
$13.8 - The original cost in millions of the Bob Devaney Sports Center when it opened in the spring of 1976. The building was originally funded by a five-cent tax on cigarettes.
24 - Number of overtime games in the Devaney Center, as the Huskers are 19-5 all-time in OT games. The last overtime home game was 55 games ago, an 83-79 double overtime win over Texas Tech on Feb. 27, 2010.
33 - Number of ranked opponents Nebraska has defeated in the Devaney Center over the years.
37 - Consecutive winning seasons at the Devaney Center, as Nebraska has an all-time home record of 446-148 (.751 winning percentage).
6,103,987 - Attendance at the Devaney Center for men's basketball over the last 37 years.
Under Tubby Smith, Minnesota comes into Wednesday's game with a 20-9 record, including a two-game win streak. Smith is in his sixth season at Minnesota following stints at Kentucky, Georgia and Tulsa. His teams won 20 straight games in his first three years at UM before dipping to 17-14 in 2010-11. Last year, Minnesota went 23-15, as the Gophers lost to Stanford in the NIT championship game. Minnesota returned four starters from that team and regained the services of sixth-year senior Trevor Mbakwe, who was forced to redshirt after suffering a torn ACL.
Minnesota went 12-1 in non-conference play with the only loss coming to Duke in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. Minnesota has been up and down in Big Ten play, losing four of five games in one stretch before its current win streak. Minnesota comes off its best week of the season, knocking off No. 1 Indiana, 77-73, on Tuesday before routing Penn State, 74-44, Saturday afternoon. Minnesota is 8-8 in Big Ten play, but has won just once on the road in Big Ten play, an 84-67 victory at Illinois on Jan. 9. UM has dropped six straight on the road and close conference play with two road games.
Minnesota is a balanced squad with four players averaging double figures and a fifth at 9.1 points per game while featuring a rotation that goes 10-deep. Sophomore Andre Hollins leads UM in scoring at 13.6 ppg, including a 41-point effort against Memphis which is the highest scoring effort in the Big Ten this season. Rodney Williams is averaging 10.8 points per game, while Austin Hollins and Trevor Mbakwe are at 10.7 ppg and 10.0 ppg, respectively. Mbakwe leads the Big Ten in rebounding at 8.8 per game and is among the conference leaders in field goal percentage (.579). Minnesota's strength is its ability to attack the glass, as the Gophers out-rebound opponents by 8.8 caroms per game. Minnesota leads the nation in offensive rebounding, grabbing over 15 offensive boards per game.
Nebraska-Minnesota Series History
Nebraska and Minnesota will meet for the 67th time on Wednesday, which is the most between the Huskers and any other Big Ten member. To put it in perspective, Nebraska had faced the other 10 teams in the league just 96 times prior to joining the Big Ten in 2011.
It is also NU's longest-running series in the Big Ten, as it dates back to February of 1902. The Gophers lead the all-time series, 51-15, including a win in the first meeting in January. Prior to joining the Big Ten, NU and Minnesota met in non-conference action every year from 1995 until 2004 after not playing for 16 years Nebraska's last win in the series came in an 80-60 win over No. 20 Minnesota on Dec. 8, 2010.
Worth Noting: Nebraska assistant coach Ben Johnson is a Minneapolis, Minn., native and played his final two years with the Gophers after transferring from Northwestern. Johnson averaged 11.5 ppg for the Gophers in 2003-04. Minnesota backup center Elliott Eliason is from Chadron, Neb., and averages 2.0 ppg and 3.6 rpg.
Last Meeting vs. Minnesota
Despite a career-high 30 points from Ray Gallegos, the Nebraska men's basketball team fell to No. 23 Minnesota, 84-65. Gallegos became the first Husker since 2008 to score 30 points in a game, topping his previous high of 22 set at UTEP on Dec. 22, as the junior guard recorded his fourth 20-point game of the season. Gallegos went 12-of-17 from the field, including six 3-pointers to match his career high. Unfortunately for the Huskers, Minnesota put three players in double figures, led by 23 from Rodney Williams and shot 54.2 percent from the floor, becoming only the second Husker opponent in 2012-13 to shoot above 50 percent. Williams hit 8-of-13 shots from the floor, while the Gophers, who improved to 16-5 and snapped a four-game losing streak, converted 16 offensive rebounds in 20 points.
Last Time Out
Dylan Talley and Ray Gallegos combined for 43 points, but Illinois pulled away in the final five minutes to earn a 72-65 victory over Nebraska. Gallegos led all players with 23 points, matching his career high with six 3-pointers to pace the Huskers while Talley turned in another strong performance with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in a losing effort.
Nebraska led the back-and-forth contest 57-55 after a Shavon Shields basket with 6:07 left, but the Illini took control with a 7-0 spurt to regain the lead for good in a matchup which saw 10 ties and 13 lead changes. Brandon Paul hit a jumper to knot the game at 57 before D.J. Richardson drilled a corner three with 4:58 left to put the Illini ahead for good. Nebraska kept hanging around and was within 64-62 after Gallegos' sixth 3-pointer of the game, but Paul's driving basket started a game-ending 9-3 surge. The Illini went 6-for-6 from the line in the final minute to hold off the Huskers' comeback bid, capping a 15-of-18 effort from the charity stripe on the day.
Tracy Abrams led five Illini in double figures with 16 points, including 6-of-6 from the line, while Paul and Richardson added 14 and 13 points, respectively for the winners. Nebraska shot 46 percent from the field, including 9-of-18 from 3-point range, and held Illinois to 44 percent, including 9-of-26 from long range.
Quick Notes From the Illinois Game
- Dylan Talley put together his seventh 20-point game of the season and third in the last four contests, as he scored 20 points, dished out five assists and grabbed five rebounds against Illinois. Over the last four contests, Talley is averaging 21.8 points per game on 46 percent shooting from the floor, including 45 percent from 3-point range.
- Talley's five assists were one off his career high of six set at Penn State on Jan. 19, while he played a career-high 40 minutes.
- Ray Gallegos posted his fifth 20-point effort of the season with a game-high 23 points. The effort was his second-highest output of his career, trailing only the 30-point night at Minnesota on Jan. 29.
- Gallegos became the first Husker other than Dylan Talley to lead NU in scoring since Feb. 2 against Ohio State.
- Gallegos matched his career high with six 3-pointers against Illinois. He also had six 3-pointers against USC (Dec. 3) and at Minnesota (Jan. 29). He has had seven games this season with at least four 3-pointers.
- With his six 3-pointers, he upped his season total to 72 and moved into fifth place on Nebraska's single-season list. Gallegos passed Jaron Boone, who had 70 3-pointers in 1994-95, with his effort today. Among Husker juniors, only Cary Cochran (78, 2000-01) and Tyronn Lue (78, 1997-98) have hit more 3-pointers in a season.
- The Illinois loss marked only the second time this season that Nebraska out-shot an opponent and lost (also at Minnesota on Jan. 29).
Closing Time at the Devaney
Wednesday's game will mark the final Husker basketball game in the Devaney Center, as Nebraska basketball will move to the Pinnacle Bank Arena in the Haymarket District for the 2013-14 season. Nebraska has a 446-148 (.751) all-time record in the building since it opened in time for the 1976-77 season. The Huskers have won 10 or more home games 30 times in 37 seasons, including a 10-7 mark heading into Wednesday's game against Minnesota.
While most of the pregame will be dedicated to Senior Night, Wednesday's halftime celebration will highlight some of the memorable moments in the building as well as the unveiling of the All-Devaney Center team voted on by the fans in a Huskers.com poll last month. The Huskers will also wear their 1976-77 throwback jerseys they unveiled for the Michigan State game last month.
Construction has been underway throughout the season inside the Devaney Center and will begin in earnest later this month to convert the facility into the new home for Husker volleyball, wrestling and gymnastics this fall.
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 12th nationally entering this week'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 11th 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. 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 Wednesday's game with Minnesota ranked 10th (.408), 10th (.308) and eighth (.687), 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 18.7 ppg over the last seven games, including three 20-point games in the last four contests.
Learning to win the Close Ones
Despite a 4-12 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.
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.
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.
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 2-13 when not putting at least three players in double figures following Saturday's loss at Illinois.
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 21 of its 29 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.
- The Huskers have held 25 of 29 teams to under 50 percent shooting from the field, including 12 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 (11.1 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 and was held to six points in Saturday's loss at Illinois. 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 enters the Minnesota game averaging a team-high 14.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.5 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 Feb. 23, 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 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 12.7 ppg and leads the Big Ten with 72 3-pointers, a total which is fifth on NU's single-seaon list. He has reached double figures 20 times this season after accomplishing the feat just three times in his first two seasons at Nebraska.
With six 3-pointers at Illinois last Saturday, Gallegos became only the sixth Husker to connect on at least 70 3-pointers in a season.
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 12th nationally with 37.4 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 Wednesday's game against Minnesota.
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.
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 27.7 minutes per game. In Big Ten play, he has continued to make strides, raising his scoring and rebounding numbers from his non-conference totals, averaging 9.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per outing. He is making a bid to become the first Husker freshman since the 2005-06 season to average double figures in conference games.
Shields has reached double figures 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 in 10 of the Huskers' 16 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.