Huskers Open Big Ten Tourney vs. Purdue
Game 32: vs. Purdue
Game Date: March 14, 2013
Tipoff Time: 5:30 p.m. (CT)
Venue: United Center
2012-13 Record: 14-17, 5-13 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 14-17 (1st year)
Career Record: 297-237 (18th year)
2012-13 Record: 15-16, 8-10 Big Ten
Head coach: Matt Painter
Record at Purdue: 175-93 (8th year)
Career Record: 200-98 (9th year)
Huskers on TV/Radio/Internet
Television: ESPN2 (Ch. 35 on Time Warner Cable, Ch. 30 on Cox Cable; Ch. 209 on DirecTV; Ch. 144 on Dish Network)
Internet: WatchESPN App
Play-by-play: Mike Tirico
Expert Analysis: Dan Dakich
Sideline: Samantha Ponder
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
National Radio: Compass Media Networks
Play-by-play: Matt Smith
Analyst: Rick Mahorn
Huskers Open Big Ten Tourney vs. Purdue
For the second straight year, Nebraska will open Big Ten Tournament action against Purdue, as the two teams will square off Thursday afternoon at the United Center in Chicago. The game will kickoff Thursday's night session with a tip-off time at 5:30 p.m. and will be carried nationally on ESPN2 with Mike Tirico, Dan Dakich and Samantha Ponder on the call.
Thursday's Big Ten Tournament opener will be carried across the state of Nebraska 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 come to Chicago with a 14-17 record and the No. 10 seed following a 74-60 loss at Iowa last Saturday. Ray Gallegos led Nebraska with 22 points, including a career-high seven 3-pointers, but a 17-0 Iowa spurt in the second half broke open a two-point game with 14 minutes left. Gallegos' seven 3-pointers at Iowa were one off Nebraska's single-game mark and moved him into second place on the Huskers' single-season 3-point mark with 81 on the season. In his first two seasons at Nebraska, the 6-foot-2 senior made just 21.
Nebraska has relied on its backcourt of Gallegos and senior Dylan Talley down the stretch, as the pair has combined to average over 30 points per game in NU's last five contests. Both players also rank among the Big Ten's leaders in minutes per game, including a league-high 37.4 mpg by Galleogs.
Nebraska runs into a vastly improved Purdue squad that won three of its final regular-season games to claim the No. 7 seed. The Boilermakers, who start three freshmen, are 15-16 on the season following an 89-73 win over Minnesota on Saturday. In that win, Purdue shot 54 percent and placed five players in double figures, led by 18 points from Rapheal David and D.J. Byrd.
The two teams met in Lincoln on Jan. 16 with Purdue taking a 65-56 win. Terone Johnson's 18 points lead four Boilermakers in double figures, while Shavon Shields had 18 points and eight rebounds to pace the Huskers.
Thursday's winner faces Ohio State Friday at 5:30 p.m.
By the Numbers
5 - Number of times Nebraska has opened conference tournament play with the same opponent in consecutive years dating back to the first Big Eight Tournament in 1977.
Oklahoma 1990-1991 and 1991-1992
Kansas State 1987-1988
16.8 - Ray Gallegos' team-high scoring average away from Lincoln this season. Five of his six 20-point games have been on the road, including a career-high 30 points at Minnesota on Jan. 29.
26 - Consecutive free throws by Dylan Talley dating back to Jan. 29. Talley has raised his free throw percentage from 67 percent to 74 percent in the last nine contests.
30 - Points that Dylan Talley needs to reach 1,000 for his Division I career. He had 307 points as a freshman at Binghamton and 663 in two seasons at Nebraska.
Purdue comes into Thursday's contest with a 15-16 record and claimed the No. 7 seed in this week's Big Ten Tournament based on a three-way tiebreaker with Illinois and Minnesota. The Boilermakers have played some of their best basketball in the final week of the season, posting wins at Wisconsin and Minnesota and nearly upsetting No. 7 Michigan.
Under the direction of eighth-year coach Matt Painter (174-93 at Purdue; 200-98 overall), the Boilermakers will likely need a tournament title this week to extend their string of NCAA appearances to seven. Last year, they won 22 games before losing to eventual runner-up Kansas in the third round in Omaha.
With only two starters back in 2012-13 and three freshman in the lineup, Purdue went 7-6 in non-conference action, winning its final three games to finish above .500. Purdue's first meeting with Nebraska was part of the Boilermakers' best stretch of the season when Purdue won six of eight, including a nine-point win in Lincoln. Purdue hit a rough patch in February, dropping five of six, including a loss to Northwestern. In the final three weeks, Purdue rebounded and won three of its final five games, including a 13-point win at Wisconsin on March 3, becoming just the third unranked Big Ten team to knock off the Badgers in Bo Ryan's tenure in Madison.
Junior guard Terone Johnson leads the Boilermakers with 13.5 points per game, highlighted by a 32-point night against Michigan on March 6, which was the highest single-game scoring effort in conference action. Senior D.J. Byrd is a prolific outside shooter and averages 10.0 points per game with a team-high 73 3-pointers. He has over half of Purdue's 3-point baskets this season. The Boilermakers also feature one of the Big Ten's best young centers in A.J. Hammons, who averages 10.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots per game, a total which is second in the Big Ten. Freshman Ronnie Johnson also averages 9.6 ppg and is among the Big Ten leaders with 4.0 assists per contest. Purdue holds opponents to 40 percent shooting and has a +5.3 rebounding margin.
Nebraska-Purdue Series History
Thursday's tournament opener between the Huskers and Purdue will be the 12th all-time meeting between the two programs in a series that dates back to 1947. Purdue holds a 9-2 lead in the all-time series and has won the last five matchups dating back to 1978. The Boilermakers are 3-0 against Nebraska since the Huskers joined the Big Ten prior to the 2011-12 season. Nebraska's last win in the series was a 96-85 win in Lincoln on Dec. 5, 1964.
Purdue 65, Nebraska 56 - Jan. 16
A career night from Shavon Shields and a school record for fewest turnovers weren't enough to complete a valiant comeback attempt for the Nebraska basketball team, as the Huskers fell to Purdue, 65-56.
Nebraska trailed by 20 at 43-23 with 16:21 left, 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 walk-on Jordan Tyrance. Shields scored a career-high 18 points and added a game-high-tying eight rebounds. Tyrance added 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds.
Nebraska committed only two turnovers against the Boilermakers, breaking the previous school mark of three, set most recently during the 2009-10 season.
Purdue put four players in double figures, led by Terone Johnson's 18 points. A.J Hammons finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and six blocked shots, while D.J. Byrd and Ronnie Johnson added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
2012 Big Ten Tournament vs. Purdue
A big surge by Purdue midway through the first half proved to be too much to overcome for Nebraska in a 79-61 loss at its first-ever game in the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament. Bo Spencer paced three Huskers with 22 points, while Toney McCray and Dylan Talley also reached double figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively.. Nebraska got off to a strong start, jumping to a 12-8 lead at the 14:40 mark of the first half, but the Huskers then went through a scoring drought of nearly eight minutes. Purdue went on a 17-0 run in the same time span to take a 13-point advantage with just less than seven minutes remaining before halftime. Purdue never trailed after that point in the contest, but Nebraska continued to battle the Boilermakers throughout, moving as close as four points early in the second half. The Huskers trailed by 12 points at 37-25 with 1:12 left in the first half, but scored six of the final eight points before intermission to slice the halftime margin to 39-31. NU scored the first four points after halftime to move within four at 39-35, and remained within six points with 15 minutes remaining. However, the Huskers could get no closer as Purdue put the contest out of reach with a 10-0 run.
Nebraska's Conference Tournament History
While this marks Nebraska's second Big Ten Tournament appearance, the Huskers are 16-35 all-time in conference tournaments dating back to the start of the Big Eight Conference tournament in 1977. NU's only conference tournament title came in 1994, when the Huskers beat Oklahoma, No. 3 Missouri and No. 23 Oklahoma State en route to the Big Eight title.
- Nebraska's last semifinal appearance came in the 2006 Big 12 Tournament when the Huskers defeated Missouri and Oklahoma before falling to eventual tournament winner Kansas.
- The Huskers' last first-round win came in 2011, when the 12th-seeded Huskers topped fifth-seeded Missouri, 75-60, at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
- As the No. 10 seed, the Huskers would look to buck the trend, as no seed higher than six has won the Big Ten Tournament since it began in 1998. In fact, only two double-digit seeds (Illinois, No. 11 in 1999 and No. 10 Illinois in 2008) have reached the title game. The No. 10 seed is 10-15 all-time in the Big Ten Tournament.
- This will mark the second straight year that Nebraska will open tournament play against the same opponent (complete list on page 2). In addition, Purdue and Nebraska have also squared off in both the 2011 and 2012 Big Ten women's tournament, including the 2012 title game and the 2013 semifinals.
- Tim Miles will look to become the first Husker coach to win a conference tournament game in his first season, as Moe Iba (1981), Danny Nee (1987), Barry Collier (2001) and Doc Sadler (2007) all dropped their first-ever conference tournament game.
Last Time Out
Despite a career-high seven 3-pointers from Ray Gallegos, Nebraska fell to Iowa, 74-60, in the regular-season finale. Gallegos led all players with 22 points, hitting 7-of-14 from long range en route to his sixth 20-point effort of the season, but it was not enough, as Iowa shot 57.1 percent and put four players in double figures to lock up the No. 6 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
The Huskers used an 11-3 run to whittle a 10-point deficit to 46-44 after a Dylan Talley basket with 14:21 left, but went ice cold from the floor, going nearly eight and half minutes without a bucket, as the Hawkeyes went on a decisive 17-0 run to take a 63-44 lead.
Aaron White led the Hawkeyes with 19 points, while Woodbury added 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting, as Iowa shot 72.7 percent in the final 20 minutes. Dylan Talley joined Gallegos in double figures with 11 points, while Brandon Ubel added nine points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Quick Notes From the Iowa Game
- Ray Gallegos set a career-high with seven 3-pointers, which is one shy of the school mark held by Cary Cochran (8, at Baylor, 2/2/02). It also marks the fourth time this year that Gallegos hit at least six 3-pointers in a game. It also marked his sixth 20-point game this season.
- With seven 3-pointers, Gallegos raised his total this season to 81, which moved him into sole possession of second place on NU's single-season chart.
- Gallegos became NU's single-season record holder in minutes played, as he has now played 1,158 minutes this season. He broke the record of 1,155 by Dave Hoppen in 1984-85.
- Iowa's 57.1 shooting percentage matched an opponent team-high against Nebraska this season (also Kent State). Iowa became only the fifth opponent to shoot 50 percent against the Huskers this season.
Huskers Top 2011-12 Win Total
Entering the Big Ten Tournament, the Huskers have already eclipsed last year's totals in wins and conference wins despite playing one of the nation's toughest schedules.
In the preseason poll of Big Ten beat writers, the Huskers were nearly a consensus choice to finish 12th by 23 of the 24 beat writers around the league. That was based on the fact that Nebraska returned one starter (senior forward Brandon Ubel) and two of its top nine scorers from last year. Nebraska was one of only two Big Ten teams - along with Purdue - that did not return a player who averaged double figures in 2011-12.
The Huskers finished the regular season in 10th place in the finals standings while the 14 wins and five Big Ten wins both surpassed last year's total. With 14 wins in his first season at Nebraska, Tim Miles compares favorably with the other first-year win totals of Big Ten coaches.
NU's strength of schedule is eighth nationally entering this week's conference tournament, and 13 of the Huskers' 17 losses in 2012-13 are against teams currently in the top 50 of the RPI.
Value the Basketball
Under Tim Miles, an emphasis this season has been taking care of the basketball, and the Huskers have been among the nation's best in 2012-13.
Despite losing its top three point guards from last season and having this year' backup point guard (Mike Peltz) suffer a season-ending injury in January, Nebraska is third in the Big Ten and eighth nationally with 10.7 turnovers per game - nearly three fewer than last year. NU's turnovers is on pace to be the fewest since the stat was kept in 1980. Nebraska has committed 10 turnovers or less 14 times this season, including five of the past six games.
In all, five of the top 10 teams in the country reside in the Big Ten, including Michigan and Wisconsin which rank first and fourth, respectively in that category. 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 Huskers come into the 2013 Big Ten Tournament ranked 10th (.405), ninth (.311) and eighth (.693) in those respective categories. When Nebraska has put up points, they have enjoyed success, going 11-4 when scoring at least 60 points.
During the second half of Big Ten play, Dylan Talley has emerged as one of the Big Ten's top offensive threats. The 6-foot-5 point guard is averaging 17.1 ppg over the last nine games, including three 20-point games.
Learning to win the Close Ones
Despite a 5-13 Big Ten record, the Huskers have been in many of its conference games until the final minutes. In nine of NU's 18 conference games, 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 on March 2, as the Huskers were down 64-62 with three minutes remaining, but could not pull off the upset. Last Wednesday, the Huskers held off Minnesota down the stretch, as Nebraska's largest lead in the final 10 minutes was five points.
Nebraska is 6-0 on the season in games decided by five points or less after going 4-3 in games decided by five points or less in 2011-12.
Developing Talent; Looking for Depth
While having to replace four starters and seven of the top nine scorers from last year, Tim Miles has had the challenge of putting players in new roles this year.
The Huskers had five returning scholarship players in 2012-13, and all five are integral members of NU's eight-man rotation. Four of the five returnees have seen significant jumps in their averages from their last season of competition and are all enjoying personal bests in both scoring and rebounding. Prior to this season, Nebraska 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 Earns Honorable-Mention All-Big Ten Honors
Senior Dylan Talley became the first Husker basketball player to earn All-Big Ten honors, as he garnered honorable-mention honors from both the league's coaches and media. He enters the Big Ten Tournament leading the Huskers in both scoring (14.2 ppg) and assists (2.5 apg), while he ranks eighth in the league in scoring.
Talley closed the conference season with a flourish, playing some of the best basketball of his career in the final half of Big Ten play. He averaged 17.1 ppg in the second half of conference play, including a trio of 20-point efforts. At Wisconsin, he led the Huskers in scoring (21), rebounding (eight) and assists (three) for the first time in his career while he had 20 points, five rebounds and five assists at Illinois. In addition, he provided one of the Huskers' biggest moments of the season with his game-winning 3-pointer against Iowa with 9.2 seconds left.
Gallegos Is Husker Ironman
If it seems like Ray Gallegos is on the court the entire game, it probably is true, as the junior guard is one of the nation's leader in minutes played this season.
- According to kenpom.com, Gallegos is third nationally in percentage of minutes played, as he has been on the court for 93.4 percent of the Huskers' minutes this season. He trails only Travis Bader of Oakland (94.6) and Kyle Vinales of Central Connecticut State (94.0) among all Division I players.
- In the last five years, 16 Big Ten players, including Gallegos, have played at least 90 percent of their team's minutes in a season, and Gallegos is second to Penn State's Talor Battle.
- Gallegos played all 40 minutes 10 times in 18 Big Ten games and 11 times during the season. Gallegos now holds Nebraska's single-season record for minutes played with 1,158 entering the Big Ten Tournament.
- In Big Ten play, he averaged 38.6 minutes per game, sitting just 26 minutes in league play. His total minutes played were 26 more than runner-up Deshaun Thomas of Ohio State.
- Gallegos was on the court for a stretch of 218:39 consecutive minutes dating back from Dec. 29 to Jan. 19, playing all 40 minutes of Nebraska's first five Big Ten games.
- His season low in minutes - which was set in the season opener against Southern - were the most minutes played of his career, as he never played more than 27 minutes in any game during his first two seasons (2009-10, 2010-11).
Huskers Look for Balanced Scoring
One of the biggest keys to success for the Huskers has been finding multiple scoring options. Nebraska has three players averaging in double figures on the season, while six players (Brandon Ubel, Dylan Talley, Ray Gallegos, Andre Almeida, David Rivers and Shavon Shields) have all scored at least 20 points at least once this season. The three players in double figures would be the first time its happened for the Huskers since the 2005-06 season.
When Nebraska has three or more players in double figures, the Huskers are 11-4, but are just 3-13 when not putting at least three players in double figures entering this week's Big Ten Tournament.
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 (11.2 ppg) and rebounding (6.7 rpg). His rebounding average is on pace to be the highest for a Husker since Aleks Maric averaged 10.2 rebounds per game in 2007-08.
He has been in double figures in 20 games this year, which exceeds his double-figure games over the first three years at Nebraska. Ubel also has a team-high four double-doubles in 2012-13 (21 points & 12 rebounds vs. Southern, 17 points & 13 rebounds vs. Kent State, 15 points & 10 rebounds vs. Jacksonville State and 14 points and 12 rebounds vs. Northwestern).
Ubel led the Huskers to a win over Minnesota on March 6 with 15 points, six rebounds and four assists. He scored all 15 points in the second half, including the Huskers' final 10 points to earn their first win over a top-50 RPI team this season. In NU's win over Iowa on Feb. 23 , he scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds, marking the fourth time in a five-game stretch where he had at least eight caroms. He has shown toughness this season, suffering an elbow injury at Michigan on Jan. 9 and missed two games - the first time he has missed time since his freshman year. His best game in conference play was against Northwestern when he scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, including five offensive boards.
He began the season with a career-high 21 points in the win over Southern, before pacing Nebraska with 17 points in a 50-48 win over Horizon League favorite Valparaiso. Ubel had 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the loss to Kent State and also had 18 points, including 10-of-11 shooting from the foul line, against Nicholls State.
The 6-foot-10 forward is the Huskers' top returning rebounder (5.3 rpg) and second-leading scorer (6.7 ppg) while being one of the Huskers' most consistent performers at the free throw line. Ubel is fourth on Nebraska's career free throw percentage list at 80.4 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 majors in broadcasting and will graduate this May. He has done some women's basketball play-by-by for the campus radio station and interned at a local ABC affiliate over the summer.
Talley Takes Offensive Role
Senior Dylan Talley came into the 2012-13 season as the Huskers' most proven scorer and has shouldered a significant role in NU's offense. The 6-foot-5 senior is averaging a team-high 14.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. He is ninth in the conference in scoring and fourth in minutes played with 35.3 per game, earning honorable-mention All-Big Ten honors from the league coaches and media.
Talley has been in double figures in a team-high 25 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 nine games, Talley is averaging 17.1 points per game, including a 21-point, eight-rebound effort at Wisconsin and 20 points, five rebounds and five assists at Illinois. He also scored 18 points in a win over Iowa in NU's comeback win on Feb. 23. Against the Hawkeyes, he scored 16 of his points in the second half, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 9.2 seconds left.
In the loss against Michigan State on Feb. 16, 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 15.1 ppg since then while Nebraska is averaging 58.8 points per game in its final 15 Big Ten 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 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 12.8 ppg and leads the Big Ten with 81 3-pointers, a total which is second on NU's single-season list. He has reached double figures 21 times this season after accomplishing the feat just three times in his first two seasons at Nebraska.
During conference play, Gallegos led all players with 2.7 3-pointers per game.
Gallegos has led the Huskers in scoring six 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. He also had 23 points in a loss at Iowa on March 7, including seven 3-pointers. His seven 3-pointers against the Hawkeyes were the most 3-pointers by any Big Ten player this season. It marked the second straight road game that Gallegos had 20 or more points, as he had 23 points, including six 3-pointers, at Illinois on March 2.
Earlier this season, Gallegos put on a show in El Paso, earning 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.
Shields Makes Name For Himself
After missing most of the first month of the season with an elbow injury, Shavon Shields has become a mainstay in the Husker lineup. On the season, Shields is averaging 8.0 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, while appearing in 26 games.
In Big Ten play, he has continued to make strides, raising his scoring and rebounding numbers from his non-conference totals. He averaged 9.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per outing, and finished 11th in rebounding.
Shields reached double figures five times in Big Ten play, most recently a 17-point performance in the win over Iowa on Feb. 23, earning Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Week honors for the second time this season. Shields collected his first career double-double with a 19-point, 13-rebound effort against No. 8 Michigan State on Feb. 16. Shields set career highs in consecutive games in January, highlighted by a 29-point effort at Penn State on Jan. 19. Shields hit 10-of-11 shots from the field and went 8-of-8 from the line in posting the highest scoring effort by a Husker freshman since 2007 (Ryan Anderson at Hawaii). He also had team bests in both rebounds (six) and steals (three) to help NU to its first Big Ten win. On Jan. 16 against Purdue, Shields became the first Husker freshman to lead the team in scoring in three years with 18 points and eight rebounds. Shields was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Jan. 21, the first time since 2009 that a Husker freshman was honored by the league.
In Big Ten play, Shields is second among Big Ten freshman in rebounding and has grabbed at least six rebounds 11 times in conference games, including 13 rebounds against No. 8 Michigan State on Feb. 16 and nine rebounds at No. 8 Ohio State on Jan. 2.
Rivers Looks to Get into Offensive Flow
Throughout the summer and the preseason, one Husker returnee who was flying under the radar was sophomore David Rivers. The 6-foot-7 wing totaled only 20 points and 16 rebounds in 19 contests as a freshman, but has added nearly 20 pounds since last year and has made significant strides.
Rivers' improvement has been evident, as he is averaging 5.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game while playing in all 31 contests. He has become a consistent performer for the Huskers, averaging 6.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game over the last nine games 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 had seven points and a season-high five rebounds at Illinois on March 2. Rivers played just 17 minutes at Iowa and was held to two points.
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.
Parker Makes A Point
Benny Parker has been a solid contributor in his first season in the Husker program. The 5-foot-9 guard became only the 10th freshman to start a season opener since 1995 and is one of four Huskers who has played in every game this season. Parker averages 2.6 points, 2.1 assists and 1.3 rebounds per game and has a team-high 1.5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
He has committed one turnover or less in 18 of the Huskers 31 games this year. He is making a move to earn a place on NU's freshman charts in both steals and assists. He needs two assists on Thursday to move into a tie for 10th place on Nebraska's single-season freshman assists list.
Parker had 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. His best effort in conference play was at Minnesota, when he had six assists and three rebounds at Minnesota on Jan. 29.
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.
Gallegos Goes for 30 vs. Gophers
Nebraska junior Ray Gallegos enjoyed the finest offensive performance of his career in the Huskers' loss at Minnesota on Jan. 29.
- His 30-point performance against the Gophers marked the 61st time a Husker had scored 30 points since Feb. 13, 2008, a span of 159 games. It also marked the first time a Husker guard had scored 30 points since Tyronn Lue did so during the 1997-98 season.
- Gallegos became the 24th player in school history to have a 30-point game at Nebraska. Of the 24 players, only 12 have multiple 30-point games in their Husker career.
- It finished the year as the second-highest total in Big Ten play, trailing only Terone Johnson's 32-point effort against Michigan on March. 6
Shields Erupts Against Penn State
Freshman Shavon Shields enjoyed one of the finest efforts by a Husker freshman with his 29-point effort at Penn State on Jan. 19.
- Shields 29-point effort tied for the second-highest scoring effort by a freshman in school history. Only Tyronn Lue, who had 30 points against Oregon in 1995, had more in a single game.
- His 10-of-11 shooting effort against the Nittany Lions is the third-best shooting night by a Big Ten player this season, trailing only David Rivers' 8-of-8 effort at Michigan State on Jan. 13 and Will Sheehey's 9-of-9 performance against Purdue on Feb. 16.
- Shields also went 8-of-8 from the foul line, which tied for the second-best effort from the foul line by a Big Ten player this season.
- The 29 points ties for the fourth-highest total in a Big Ten conference game this season.
- He also tied for team-high honors with six rebounds and added a career-high three steals while playing 38 minutes before fouling out.
- Shields earned Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Week honors on Jan. 23, after averaging 23.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game against Purdue and Penn State.
Almeida Looks to Provide Inside Presence
As Nebraska heads into the Big Ten Tournament, the Huskers will need a strong interior presence and are hoping Andre Almeida can fill the role. The 6-foot-11 senior averages 4.9 points on 49 percent shooting, 3.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, as he is ninth in the conference in blocked shots.
Almeida, who missed two games because of a knee injury, has seen extensive action in the Huskers' last two games, totaling eight points, six rebounds and five blocked shots in NU's games against Minnesota and Iowa. Against the Gophers, he had five rebounds and three blocked shots, marking the eighth time this season he has had at least three blocks in a game.
Almeida has battled several injuries during the course of Big Ten play. The injury bug began against Ohio State in the Big Ten opener when he sprained his ankle, and he also missed the Northwestern game because of an injury. His best effort since his return to action was eight points and four rebounds against Purdue on Jan. 19. Almeida has provided strong efforts at times in Big Ten play, grabbing a team-high eight rebounds and blocking three shots in just 21 minutes of work against Ohio State on Feb. 2, and adding six points, three rebounds and three blocked shots in 12 minutes against Penn State on Feb. 9.
Earlier this season, he 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.
Huskers Have Relied on Walk-Ons this season
With only eight recruited scholarship players available for this season, Nebraska has relied on its walk-ons to play crucial roles this season.
Mike 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 before being sidelined with a knee injury. Peltz had a patella tendon debridement on his left knee and had surgery in late January. 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.
When Brandon Ubel missed two games with an elbow injury, Jordan Tyrance stepped into the rotation and provided two of the best performances of his career. After playing just 13 minutes in Nebraska's first 16 contests, Tyrance played a then-career high 12 minutes at No. 22 Michigan State on Jan. 13, totaling two blocked shots and two assists. He followed that outing by setting career bests in points (10), rebounds (seven) and minutes (21) against Purdue on Jan. 16. He has continued to see playing time since Ubel returned, averaging 5.8 minutes a game over the last 13 games.
Trevor Menke is the third Husker who has played a significant role, as he has appeared in 14 games as a backup point guard. Menke was put on scholarship for the season and has five assists in 63 minutes of work.
The 2012-13 Huskers have a trio of players whose parents starred at either the collegiate or professional level. Freshman Shavon Shields is the son of former Husker and Kansas City Chiefs great Will Shields, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December of 2011 and was enshrined last summer. He is also a two-time finalist (2012-13) for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Sophomore Jordan Tyrance is the son of a pair of former Husker standouts, as his father, Pat Tyrance Jr., was a two-time All-Big Eight linebacker and also an NCAA Today's Top Six Award winner, while his mother, Renita Robinson was a former NCAA triple jump champion. In addition, sophomore David Rivers' father played collegiately at Arkansas Little Rock for four seasons.
- Nebraska is a perfect 4-0 on the ESPN family of networks this season, posting wins over Penn State (twice), Wake Forest and Northwestern.
- Nebraska closed out the Devaney Center with a 53-51 win over Minnesota on March 6. The Huskers spent 37 seasons in the building, compiling a 447-151 (.751) record. NU never had a losing record in the building, and won 10 or more games in 30 of 37 seasons, including an 11-7 mark in 2010-12. The building is being renovated and the 8,000-seat facility will become the home for the Husker volleyball, wrestling and gymnastics teams beginning this fall.
- Nine of Nebraska's 17 losses this season have been to ranked teams. The Huskers' nine ranked foes is their highest total since the 1996-97 season and only the fifth time NU has played nine ranked teams in a season. A Husker win on Thursday would put NU against nationally-ranked Ohio State Friday evening. The Huskers are winless in nine games vs. ranked foes.
- Nebraska's 89 points against Central Michigan on Dec. 22, was the Huskers' highest total since scoring 94 on Southern Utah on Dec. 29, 2009. It was also NU's highest total in a road or neutral site since scoring 89 in a 101-89 loss at TCU on March 15, 1999.
- Husker coach Tim Miles became just the sixth coach in the 117-year history of Nebraska basketball to win his first four games. In fact, only two Husker basketball coaches had won their first four games since 1920.
- Earlier this season, Miles becomes the first Nebraska head coach to win his first road game at Nebraska since Paul Schlisser in 1919-20, a 47-9 win over Hastings College on Jan. 13, 1920. Prior to Miles' win at Wake Forest, the previous 14 Nebraska basketball head coaches had lost their first road game as Husker head coach.
- Nebraska's 16-point victory at Wake Forest was its largest road margin since a 77-60 win at Minnesota on Nov. 29, 2003, and the seventh-largest win over the past quarter century.
- Nebraska's win over Wake Forest marked the first time the Demon Deacons had lost at home in seven ACC/Big Ten Challenge games and was just their third loss in the series history.
- Nebraska held Horizon League champion Valparaiso to just 48 points in a 50-48 win, the Crusaders' lowest point total in 29 games dating back to Nov. 25, 2011. Over the last three-plus seasons, Valparaiso has been held to 50 points or less just four times.
- Nebraska's 50 points in the win over the Crusaders equaled the fewest the Huskers have scored in a win since a 50-44 win over Oregon State on Dec. 12, 2009.
- Nebraska held Southern to 55 points and Valparaiso to 48 points, marking only the fifth time in the last 60 years that the Huskers had held its first two opponents of the season to 55 points or less (1958-59, 1985-86, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2012-13).
- The Huskers defeated Jacksonville State while going 0-of-5 from 3-point range on Dec. 18. It marked the first time since Feb. 14, 1998, that NU won a game without making a 3-pointer.
- Nebraska went 32-of-41 from the foul line against Penn State on Feb. 9, as the 32 made free throws were the most since also making 32 free throws against Texas A&M on Jan. 26, 2005.
- Nebraska's sweep of Penn State marked the first time the Huskers had swept a conference opponent since Colorado during the 2008-09 campaign.
- Nebraska overcame a 19-point first-half deficit in the win over Iowa on Feb. 23. That was NU's largest comeback in a conference game since 1997 and the third-largest comeback in school history.