Huskers Look for Big Ten Tourney Title
Game #31 vs. Ohio State/Purdue
Game Date March 14, 2014
Tipoff Time 1:30 p.m. (CT)
Venue Bankers Life Fieldhouse
2013-14 Record: 19-11, 11-7 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 34-29 (2nd year)
Career Record: 317-249 (19th year)
Ohio State Buckeyes
2013-14 Record: 23-8, 10-8 Big Ten
Head coach: Thad Matta
Record at OSU: 273-81 (10th year)
Career Record: 375-112 (14th year)
- or -
2013-14 Record: 15-16, 3-13 Big Ten
Head coach: Matt Painter
Record at Purdue: 191-111 (9th year)
Career Record: 216-116 (10th year)
Television: ESPN or ESPN2
Play by Play: Mike Tirico
Expert Analysis: Dan Dakich
Reporter: Allison Williams
Radio: 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
Expert Analysis: Matt Davison
Internet Radio/Stats: Free on Huskers.com
Satellite Radio: Sirius Ch. 91, XM Ch. 91
National Radio: Compass Media Networks
Huskers Look for Big Ten Tourney Title
The Nebraska basketball team continues its quest for its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1998 this weekend, as the Huskers travel to Indianapolis for the 2014 Big Ten Basketball Tournament.
Tournament action begins Thursday, but the Huskers will take the court at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday after earning one of four first-round byes. Nebraska, the No. 4 seed, will play either fifth-seeded Ohio State or No. 12 seed Purdue.
Tipoff is set for approximately 1:30 p.m. and the game will be carried nationally on either ESPN or ESPN2 with Mike Tirico, Dan Dakich and Allison Williams on the call. The game will also be available online and on mobile devices on the WatchESPN.
Friday’s game will also be carried across the state on the 27-station Husker Sports Network with Kent Pavelka and Matt Davison calling all of the action, including flagship stations KLIN (1400 AM/94.5 FM) in Lincoln and KFAB (1110 AM) in Omaha (complete list of affiliates is on page five of the game notes). The game can also be heard on Huskers.com and is available on the Huskers’ app on iOS or android devices, as well as Sirius and XM Radio.
The Huskers (19-11, 11-7 Big Ten) head to Indianapolis full of momentum, winning eight of their final nine games, culminating in a 77-68 win over ninth-ranked Wisconsin on Sunday. In that game, the Huskers shot 52 percent from the field and got 26 points each from Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields in picking up a victory crucial to the Huskers’ postseason hopes.
Nebraska enjoyed one of the most remarkable turnarounds in two seasons under Tim Miles, who was named Big Ten Coach of the Year on Monday. Nebraska went from 5-13 to 11-7 in the Big Ten, earning its first top-four conference finish since the 1997-98 season. Nebraska’s 11 Big Ten wins was the program’s highest conference win total since 1966, as the Huskers have relied on a talented sophomore class and a stout defense during the second half of the season. Petteway, Shields and Walter Pitchford combined for 67 of Nebraska’s 77 points in Sunday’s win over the Badgers.
During the conference season, the Huskers split with both Ohio State and Purdue, dropping the first matchup with both teams before rebounding to win the second matchup. The win over Ohio State on Jan. 20 marked Nebraska’s first win against a top-25 team under Miles, while the 19-point win over Purdue on Feb. 23 capped a five-game conference win streak - the longest at Nebraska since 1998-99.
With a win on Friday, the Huskers will advance to the conference semifinals for the first time since 2006.
Last Time Out
The Nebraska basketball team overcame the No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers on Sunday evening as the Huskers posted a 77-68 victory in front of a school record 15,998 fans at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields led the Huskers with 26 points each, as the Huskers improved to 15-1 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Shields went 10-17 from the field and 6-of-7 from the foul line, while Petteway grabbed 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
Shields and Petteway also combined to shoot 17-of-21 from the free-throw line, while Walter Pitchford added 15 points on the evening. Wisconsin was led by Frank Kaminsky as he recorded 14 points and eight rebounds.
The win propelled NU to a 19-11 overall record and an 11-7 record in Big Ten play. Wisconsin closed the game with a 25-6 record and a 12-6 record in Big Ten play. The win clinched fourth place in the final Big Ten standings at 11-7, as Nebraska went 10-2 after a 1-5 Big Ten start.
Nebraska trailed 40-33 in the second half, but used a 9-2 run to pull within one after a Petteway layup with 16:09 left. Wisconsin eventually built a 52-48 lead, but the Huskers took control with a 10-2 run, taking the lead for good on a Ray Gallegos 3-pointer with 7:44 left and building a 58-33 lead after a Pitchford 3-pointer.
Wisconsin chipped the Husker lead to 60-57, but a Benny Parker basket and five straight Petteway points pushed the lead to 10, as Petteway had 17 second-half points for the Huskers.
Nebraska’s Conference Tournament History
While this marks Nebraska’s third Big Ten Tournament appearance, the Huskers are 17-36 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 2013, when the 10th-seeded Huskers topped seventh-seeded Purdue, 57-55, at the United Center in Chicago.
- Michigan State in 1998 is the only four seed to win the tournament, while three four seeds have been runner up, most recently Wisconsin in 2013.
- If Nebraska plays Purdue on Friday, it will be the third straight year the Huskers have squared off with the Boilermakers, the first time Nebraska has done that in tournament play.
- In 2013, Tim Miles became the first Husker coach to win a conference tournament game in his first season.
Three Huskers Honored
A trio of Huskers were honored, as the Big Ten released its 2014 All-Big Ten Basketball teams on Monday. Sophomores Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields were All-Big Ten selections by both the coaches and media panel, while Tim Miles was chosen as the Big Ten Coach of the Year by the coaches.
Miles was chosen by the conference coaches as the Big Ten Coach of the Year after leading the Huskers to their best conference finish since 1998. In his second season at the helm of the Husker program, he guided Nebraska to a 19-11 record and a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten standings. The Huskers, who were picked 12th by the media in the preseason, opened conference play with a 1-5 mark, but closed with a flourish, winning 10 of their final 12 games including a pair of wins over top-10 teams (Wisconsin and at Michigan State). The 11 conference wins marked NU’s highest total since 1965-66 and only the second time since World War II that NU won at least 11 conference games in a year. Miles is the fourth Husker coach to win conference coach of the year and the first since Danny Nee in 1990-91. Nebraska’s other conference coaches of the year were Joe Cipriano (1966, 1978, 1980) and Moe Iba (1980, 1981), as Iba and Cipriano shared the award in 1980.
Petteway becomes the first Husker to be named first-team All-Big Ten, as he was selected to both first teams. It also marks the first time since 2008 for a Husker to be a first-team all-conference pick, while Petteway is the first NU player since Venson Hamilton in 1999 chosen by the coaches as a first-team honoree.
A sophomore guard/forward from Galveston, Texas, Petteway averaged 18.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in Big Ten action, while pacing the Huskers in both scoring and assists (37). He became the first NU player since Andre Smith in 1980-81 to lead a conference in scoring average and only the fifth Husker player in a century to accomplish the feat. He also ranked among the Big Ten leaders in rebounds (5.1, 20th), free throw percentage (.788, 12th), 3-pointers per game (1.6, 12th) and blocked shots (0.9, 12th). Petteway was in double figures in 17 of 18 conference games, including six 20-point performances. He poured in a career-high 35 point effort against Minnesota and punctuated his Big Ten season with a 26-point, 10-rebound masterpiece against ninth-ranked Wisconsin.
Shields, a sophomore wing from Olathe, Kan., was selected as an honorable-mention choice by both the coaches and the media, as he averaged 12.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in Big Ten action. Shields ranked among the conference leaders in both scoring (14th) and rebounding (11th). He was in double figures 11 times in Big Ten action, including a career-high 33-point effort against Illinois, when he tied Nebraska’s school record by going 15-of-15 from the foul line. Shields stepped up in NU’s biggest wins, totaling 26 points against No. 9 Wisconsin and 18 points in NU’s win over No. 17 Ohio State. Shields also added a team-high two double-doubles in Big Ten play (vs. Purdue and Northwestern) and had three games with at least 10 rebounds. Shields was also Nebraska’s Sportsmanship Award Nominee for his efforts in the community.
- Nebraska is gunning for its 12th 20-win season in school history, and first since the 2007-08 season.
- The Huskers have won 10 of their last 12 games dating back to Jan. 26, and had the best record in the Big Ten during that stretch.
- A win over either Purdue or Ohio State would be the first time the Huskers have beaten either team twice in a season.
- With 541 points this season, Terran Petteway is in 11th place on NU’s single-season scoring list, and is 10 points shy of matching Chuck Jura for 10th place. If he reached his regular-season average of 18.0 points per game, Petteway could climb to seventh place, passing Marvin Stewart (556, 1970-71) and Aleks Maric (556, 2006-07) and matching Jaron Boon (559, 1994-95).
- The Huskers have already topped last year’s win total, marking the 13th time in 14 seasons under a Miles’ coached-team that has matched or exceeded the previous season. The only time it did not happen in Miles tenure was in 2003-04 at North Dakota State.
- Nebraska has held eight of its last nine opponents under 40 percent shooting. Wisconsin snapped the streak on Sunday when they shot 42.9 percent in Nebraska’s 77-68 win.
- A win over Ohio State would be NU’s fourth win over a ranked opponent this year, the most since 1998-99.
Quick Look at Nebraska
It has taken less than two years for the Huskers to rebuild under Tim Miles. Only two of the 12 recruited scholarship players have been at NU longer than two seasons (Ray Gallegos and David Rivers), and Gallegos is the only scholarship senior on the 2013-14 roster before Mike Peltz was put on scholarship in January.
- Nebraska enters the tournament at No. 41 in the RPI and a schedule rated as the 21st toughest nationally according to the NCAA. The Huskers are now 8-8 against top-100 teams.
- The Huskers have three top-50 wins (at Michigan State, vs. Ohio State and Wisconsin) while seven of the 11 losses are to teams in the top 50 of the RPI released Monday.
- The Huskers started Big Ten play with a 1-5 record with four of their first six on the road, but had chances to win in the final minutes of three of those losses.
• vs. Michigan (Jan. 9) - Led 70-69 with 0:34 left (lost, 71-70)
• at Purdue (Jan. 12) - Led 58-55 with 6:43 left (lost, 70-64)
• at Penn State (Jan. 26) - Led 51-47 with 2:24 left (lost, 58-54)
- Nebraska has been playing its best basketball down the stretch, going 10-2 over its last 11 games dating back to Jan. 26.
- The Huskers have relied on its youth, as its top three active scorers (Petteway, Shields and Pitchford) are sophomores. In fact, the Husker sophomore class has combined for 63 percent of NU’s points and 55 percent of the individual rebounds heading into Sunday’s game against Wisconsin.
- Nebraska’s starting lineup is all underclassmen, one freshman (Tai Webster), three sophomores (Petteway, Shields and Pitchford) and one junior (David Rivers), although Ray Gallegos replaced David Rivers in the lineup for Senior Day on Sunday against Wisconsin.
- Nebraska has beaten five teams that reached the Sweet 16 of last year’s NCAA Tournament (Florida Gulf Coast, Miami, Ohio State, Indiana and Michigan State) and is 3-3 against ranked teams heading into Indianpolis.
Prior to the season, the Huskers were picked in the preseason poll of writers with a roster which is 293rd (of 351 teams) in experience according to KenPom.com. Five of NU’s nine primary rotation players are in their first year of competition at Nebraska, although three of the newcomers (Pitchford-Florida; Smith-SMU; Petteway-Texas Tech) have previous Division I experience.
Miles, who was given a seven-year contract when he was hired in 2012, led the Huskers to a 15-18 record last year, as 14 of NU’s 18 losses came against NCAA Tournament teams despite having only eight recruited scholarship players available. Nebraska played one of the nation’s toughest schedules in 2012-13, facing 10 ranked teams while the strength of schedule was 13th nationally. The Huskers finished 10th in the Big Ten in 2012-13 after being picked to finish last by 23 of the 24 beat writers in the league.
Husker Defense Makes Strides
With a roster featuring so many newcomers, it is only natural for the defense to get better as players got more accustomed to each other. Nebraska’s second half surge has been primarily based on defensive improvement. The Huskers entered Big Ten play 12th in field goal defense and eighth in scoring defense.
Over the last 14 games, NU held 10 opponents under 40 percent shooting from the field, including eight of the last nine foes. The eight straight foes under 40 percent was the longest streak by a Husker defense in at least four decades. The Huskers finished Big Ten play second in conference games in field goal percentage (.415) and third in scoring defense (63.4).
Petteway on Track for Historic Season
Terrran Petteway has come from obscurity to being a first-team All-Big Ten performer. The 6-foot-6 wing from Galveston, Texas, comes to Indianapolis leading the Big Ten in scoring at 18.0 points per game while adding 4.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists per contest.
- Petteway became the first player to earn unanimous first-team all-conference honors since Venson Hamilton in 1999.
- Petteway finished Big Ten play as the conference scoring leader, averaging 18.6 points per game. He became the fifth Husker in the last century to lead a conference in scoring in conference games and first since former Big Eight Player of the Year Andre Smith in 1980-81.
- He also leads the conference at 18.0 points per game in all games and is bidding to become the first Husker since 1950 (first year the Big Seven Conference kept records) to ever lead the league in scoring for all games. In fact, only three Huskers have ranked in the top-three in conference scoring over the last four decades and none since Tyronn Lue in 1997-98.
- He is on track to enjoy one of the highest scoring sophomore seasons in school history. At 18.0 points per game, it would be the highest by a Husker sophomore since Tyronn Lue averaged 18.8 points per game in 1996-97. In fact, only three players have averaged more than 16 points per game as a sophomore - Dave Hoppen (19.9), Lue and Jerry Fort (18.0).
- Petteway is closing in on Nebraska’s single-season top-10 scoring list. With 541 points this season, he is just 10 points shy of 10th place on NU’s single-season scoring list.
- He has raised his scoring average nearly 15 points from his true freshman year at Texas Tech (3.3) , as his career high entering this season was a 13-point effort against DePaul.
- Petteway is the only player in the Big Ten over the last two seasons with multiple 30-point games. The last person with three 30-point games in a season was John Shurna of Northwestern in 2011-12. Only nine Big Ten players have had multiple 30-point games in a season since 2009-10.
- He’s reached double figures in 28 of 30 games, including 17 of 18 Big Ten contests, after just having one double-figure effort prior to this season. The only time he was held out of double figures was a five-point effort at Michigan on Feb. 5
- His 11 20-point games, including six in Big Ten action, put him third in the league in that category. He has also scored 15 or more points in 14 of NU’s 18 conference games.
- Petteway put together the finest game of his career in the win over Minnesota on Jan. 26 with a career-high 35 points on 10-of-15 shooting and six rebounds. Petteway hit four 3-pointers in the win and went 11-of-14 from the foul line. It is the highest scoring performance in conference action this year.
- He led Nebraska to an upset win at No. 9 Michigan State with 23 points, including 16 in the second half, and five rebounds. It was NU's first win over a top-10 team since 1997.
- Petteway posted his second double-double in the upset win over No. 9 Wisconsin scoring 26 points, including 11 of 14 from the foul line and adding 10 rebounds in the 77-68 victory.
- Ranks third in the Big Ten in free throw shooting at 81.7 percent after shooting just 46 percent from the line during his lone season at Texas Tech.
- Recorded his first career double-double at Iowa on Dec. 31, leading all scorers with 20 points and grabbing a career-high 12 rebounds.
- Led the Huskers at the Charleston Classic in November, averaging 22 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in three games, including a 30-point game against UMass.
- Put together his first 30-point game of the season in a 96-91 loss to UMass at the Charleston Classic, and is now only one of 13 players in school history with multiple 30-point games at Nebraska.
Shields Keys Huskers Success
Shavon Shields is on his way to creating an impressive resume in his own right. While his father, Will, is one of the greatest linemen in college and NFL history and a three-time NFL Hall of Fame finalist, the younger Shields has played an integral role over the last two years on the court for the Huskers.
As a freshman, Shavon overcame an early season elbow injury and averaged 8.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in 29 games. Shields started to shine during the 2013 Big Ten Tournament, averaging 16.5 points on 61 percent shooting in games against Purdue and Ohio State.
- This season, Shields has started all 30 games and is averaging 12.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, as he leads the Huskers in rebounding and is second in scoring.
- Shields has played some of his best basketball during the second half of Big Ten play, averaging 16.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent from the field over NU’s last 10 contests. The Huskers are 8-2 over that stretch.
- Shields earned Big Ten Co-Player of the Week for his efforts during the last week of the season, averagng 21.5 points per game in wins over Indiana and Wisconsin.
- He posted his fourth 20-point effort of the year against the No. 9 Badgers, hitting 10-of-16 shots from the floor while going 6-of-7 from the foul line in the 77-68 win.
- Shields shined in the win at Indiana on March 5, leading the team with 17 points and eight rebounds, as Nebraska picked up its first-ever season sweep against the Hoosiers.
- He has put together two double-doubles over NU’s last five contests, including 17 points and 10 rebounds against Northwestern March 1 and 18 points and 10 boards against Purdue on Feb. 23.
- His best offensive effort came against Illinois on Feb. 12, when he scored a career-high 33 points, hitting 8-of-12 shots from the field and all 15 of his free throws. Shields tied Nebraska’s single-game record for free throws without a miss and became only the 11th Big Ten player to hit at least 15 free throws without a miss and the first since 1997.
- He keyed Nebraska to a win over No. 17 Ohio State on Jan. 20 when he scored a game-high 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
- He has been in double figures 19 times, and has grabbed at least six rebounds 17 times, including a season-high 10 rebounds on three occasions (at Penn State, Purdue, Northwestern).
- Shields has paced the Huskers in scoring nine times and has four 20-point efforts, all coming against 2013 NCAA Tournament qualifiers (Florida Gulf Coast, Creighton, Illinois and Wisconsin).
- He was named Big Ten Player of the Week and Lute Olson National Player of the Week for his effort against Sweet 16 qualifier Florida Gulf Coast in the season opener. In that game he scored a game-high 28 points - one off his career high - hitting 8-of-13 shots from the field and a perfect 12-of-12 from the line. The 6-foot-7 forward also led NU in rebounds (six) and assists (three).
- Last summer, Shields played for the Denmark U-20 National Team, leading the country to the 2013 Nordic Cup Championship. He averaged 13.3 points per game in wins over Sweden, Finland and Estonia, capping the tournament with a 17-point, 12-rebound effort in a 101-94 double overtime win over Estonia.
- Off the court, Shields is a microbiology major who wants to become a doctor following his basketball career. He was named first-team Academic All-District VII on Jan. 31, as he carries a 3.77 GPA in microbiology.
Pitchford Provides Scoring Punch
Another one of Nebraska’s transfers, sophomore Walter Pitchford has developed into a consistent scoring option for the Huskers. The 6-foot-10 forward began his career at Florida, where he was a reserve on the Gators’ Elite Eight squad in 2011-12. This year, he has taken advantage of the new surroundings and has been productive, averaging 9.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. One of the Huskers’ best athletes with a 42-inch vertical leap, Pitchford is also one of the Huskers’ top 3-point shooters at nearly 42 percent on the season.
- Is playing some of his best basketball of the season over the Huskers’ second-half surge, averaging 11.6 points per game on 56 percent shooting over the last 12 games. Pitchford has been in double figures 10 times in that stretch and has set season highs in points on two occasions, most recently at Michigan State on Feb. 16.
- Performed well in NU’s win over No. 9 Wisconsin with 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting and five rebounds in the 77-68 win.
- Sparked Nebraska’s win at Indiana with 17 points and nine rebounds, as he scored the Huskers’ first nine points and then delivered a 3-pointer with 1:55 left to give Nebraska a four-point cushion.
- Nearly had a double-double against Northwestern on March 1, finishing with 10 points and nine boards.
- Enjoyed a successful homecoming at Michigan State on Feb. 16, totaling a career-high 18 points, including a season-high four 3-pointers, along with five rebounds and two steals in Nebraska's win over the No. 9 Spartans.
- Reached double figures in scoring 16 times this year, including a then-career-high 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the four-point win over Northwestern on Nov. 8. In that game, he scored 13 second-half points, including five straight points after the Wildcats cut an eight-point lead to 44-all in the final four minutes.
- Shined in the Big Ten opener at Iowa on Dec. 31, finishing with 13 points and a season-high 12 rebounds for his second double-double of the year. Pitchford also had eight offensive rebounds and helped NU cut a 20-point deficit to five in the second half.
- Posted his first career double-double against Arkansas State on Dec. 14 with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
- Totaled an incredible 339:23 without a turnover dating back to his time at Florida before his first turnover on Jan. 9. The streak lasted 22 games dating back to his freshman year at Florida, as he was the last regular rotation player in the country without a turnover.
Finding Offensive Pace
Despite having a revamped lineup, the Huskers have been more proficient offensively, averaging nearly nine points more per game than at this point last year.
- Last year, NU was 12th in the Big Ten in scoring offense at 58.3 points per game. This season, NU has been held under 60 points just eight times.
- The Huskers’ tempo has vastly increased, as Nebraska was over 300th in adjusted tempo in each of the last three seasons and is now 210th coming into the Big Ten Tournament.
- Nebraska’s 8.7 points per game improvement over last season is on pace to be the Huskers’ largest scoring increase since the mid-1960s. Only five Husker teams since 1948 have had a seven-point scoring jump from one season to the next.
- Nebraska’s 82 points against Minnesota on Jan. 26 marked the most points by the Huskers in a conference game since joining the Big Ten in 2011-12.
- Nebraska scored 80 or more points in consecutive games against South Carolina State and UMass, the first time that has happened since the 2008-09 season.
- Nebraska has had nine players reach double figures at least once this season. The Huskers had three games where five players reached double figures and seven others with four double-figure scorers.
- In two seasons under Miles, Nebraska is 26-8 when scoring over 60 points.
The move to Pinnacle Bank Arena has been a boon to Nebraska basketball, as the Husker program shattered season-ticket records in 2013-14. On May 3, all of the season tickets allotted for 2013-14 had been accounted for, as season-ticket sales were up nearly 95 percent from 2012-13. It marked the third straight season that tickets sales were up.
- Nebraska established a school record for average attendance with 15,419 fans per game, breaking the previous mark of 13,357 set in 1992-93.
- Nebraska ranks fourth in the Big Ten and 13th nationally. In all, seven of the top 17 nationally in average attendance are in the Big Ten.
- Nebraska averaged 5,067 more fans per game than in 2012-13, the largest single-season increase in college basketball over the last five years. In fact, only four schools have increased their attendance by more than 3,000 fans per game in a single season, led by BYU in 2010-11 (4,685 per game increase).
- The Huskers sold over 14,000 season tickets for its first season in the building, including 1,650 student tickets. The previous school record for season ticket sales was 12,000 set in 1992-93.
- The Huskers rewarded the fans by going 15-1 in the first season at Pinnacle Bank Arena, its best home mark since the 1982-83 campaign.
Gallegos Looks to Prove Less is More
While senior guard Ray Gallegos was Nebraska’s top returning scorer heading into the season, the Huskers’ increased depth has made him a more efficient player in 2013-14.
While Gallegos is known for being a long-range shooter who can hit shots in bunches, he has been a more well-rounded player during his senior year. He is fourth on the team in scoring at 7.0 points per game while averaging 2.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. Last year, Gallegos averaged a Big Ten-high 37.5 minutes per game, including nearly 39 minutes per game in conference play, but NU’s increased depth has reduced his minutes to just over 28 minutes per game.
- Leads the Huskers with a career-high 2.7-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio on the season and has more steals (23) than turnovers (15) in 786 minutes of action.
- Ranks eighth in the Big Ten with 1.7 3-pointers per game, including a trio of 3-pointers in NU’s 70-60 win at Indiana on March 5. Gallegos’ first 3-pointer gave Nebraska an eight-point halftime lead before he drained a pair of 3-pointers in an 8-2 second half run. He also has four 3-pointers in the first matchup with Michigan on Jan. 9, and broke out of a mini slump with 11 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, against Penn State on Feb. 20.
- Has already set a career high in assists on two occasions, including five assists against The Citadel on Dec. 21 and Minnesota on Jan. 23.
- Enjoyed one of his best games of the season at Cincinnati on Dec. 28 with a season-high 18 points, including four 3-pointers, while dishing out three assists.
- Leads the Huskers with 49 3-pointers this season and now sits in seventh place on Nebraska’s career 3-point chart with 153.
- Opened the 2013-14 season by hitting six of 10 3-pointers in a win over South Carolina State on Nov. 17, the fifth time he has hit on at least six 3-pointers in a game.
As a junior, he connected on 83 3-pointers, a total which ranked second on Nebraska’s single-season list. It is more impressive when you consider that Gallegos made only 21 3-pointers during his first two seasons at Nebraska before redshirting in 2011-12.
- Led the Big Ten in 3-pointers per game (2.5 per game) during the 2012-13 season. He became the first Husker basketball player to lead the Big Ten in any statistical category.
- Connected on a career-high seven 3-pointers at Iowa on March 9, 2013, a total which is one shy of Nebraska’s single-game record.
Webster Makes a Point, Plays the Point
Tai Webster has found a home in the Huskers’ backcourt, averaging 4.2 points, 2.0 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game heading into the Big Ten Tournament. While he averaged just 2.6 points per game in Big Ten play, Webster has found other ways to help the Huskers win, as he is second on the team in assists (31) and fourth in steals (13) while hitting 73 percent from the foul line.
Webster had his Big Ten performance of the year against Penn State on Feb. 23, totaling 10 points, a season-high five rebounds and a team-best three assists. It marked his first double-digit effort in Big Ten play, as he went 8-of-10 from the line against the Nittany Lions and hit his only shot from the field. He also performed well in NU’s win over No. 17 Ohio State with nine points, including 5-of-6 from the foul line, and two rebounds. Webster had five points and four assists in 29 minutes in the win over Minnesota on Jan. 26 and had four points, two assists and two steals against Indiana on Jan. 30. He dished out four assists and matched his personal best with four steals at No. 22 Iowa on Dec. 31.
The 6-foot-4 freshman enjoyed the best game of his career on Nov. 24 against Georgia, scoring 14 points and dishing out three assists in NU’s 73-65 win. Webster scored 13 of his points in the second half and went 7-of-9 from the foul line. It was his second double-figure effort of the Charleston Classic, as he totaled 12 points and two assists in NU’s loss to UMass. He has dished out a season-high five assists on three occasions, most recently against Arkansas State on Dec. 14.
With his start against Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 8, Webster became just the ninth true freshman to start a season opener in the last 18 years. Webster totaled nine points, two rebounds and an assist in helping the Huskers to a 79-55 win. He reached double figures for the first time in his young career against South Carolina State on Nov. 17, totaling 13 points, four rebounds and two assists.
Although he is a freshman who does not turn 19 until after this season, Webster was considered one of the top international guards in this year’s senior class. He played for New Zealand’s national team in qualifying for the 2012 Olympics, averaging 13.5 points per game in 52.5 percent shooting in three games. He also played in New Zealand’s National Basketball League, averaging 18.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game last spring despite being the youngest player in the league. Webster is among the five Big Ten freshmen to watch by ESPN’s Paul Biancardi, joining Indiana’s Noah Vonleh, Illinois’ Kendrick Nunn, Michigan’s Zak Irvin and Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes.
Setting a Benchmark
For Nebraska, one of the biggest improvements has been the development of its bench this season. Nebraska is averaging over 17 points per game from its bench, compared to just over seven last season. The bench has been reshaped following the dismissal of Deverell Biggs in late January.
Despite the loss of Biggs, the Huskers feature one of the Big Ten’s best sixth men in Leslee Smith. The 6-foot-8 junior forward has been the Huskers’ most consistent performer according to Tim Miles, as he gives NU a physical post presence. Smith is averaging 5.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Smith is one of only two players from the British Virgin Islands playing Division I basketball, and grew up playing baseball as a kid before turning his attention to basketball.
- Leads the Huskers with three double-doubles, most recently an 11-point, 10-rebound effort at No. 3 Ohio State on Jan. 4.
- Has five games with at least 10 rebounds, as he is sixth in the Big Ten in that category. He is the only player on the list who is not a starter. He also leads all Big Ten reserves in rebounding entering this week’s action.
- Put together a solid effort at Illinois on Feb. 26 with nine points on 4-of-4 shooting and four rebounds in 13 minutes of work.
- Totaled four points and five rebounds in the March 5 win at Indiana to sweep the season series.
- Is tied for the team lead in steals (27) and is second in blocked shots (19) while averaging less than 18 minutes per contest. Smith is bidding to become the first Husker to lead Nebraska in both steals and blocked shots in the same season.
Sophomore Benny Parker has been in the lineup all 30 games this year and has a 2.3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio as NU’s backup point guard. The 5-foot-9 guard is a pest on the defensive end, averaging nearly one steal per game and has taken many of the minutes that Biggs played.
- Over the last 12 games, Parker is averaging 3.7 points on 60 percent shooting, 1.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game in 18 minutes per game, a big reason why the Huskers are 10-2 in that span.
- He keyed NU’s win over Northwestern on March 1 with seven points and two rebounds while his charge in the final minute preserved the Huskers win.
- Parker had eight points - his highest total since the season opener - three steals to help the Huskers to a 70-60 win at Indiana on March 5, and had four points, two assists and two steals while playing a season-high 31 minutes in the win over No. 9 Wisconsin on March 9.
- Parker had a career-high nine points in the opener and two steals against Florida Gulf Coast.
Junior David Rivers is NU’s other primary post player, as he averages 2.8 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. Rivers, who started during conference play last season, had a season-high 10 points against UMass on Nov. 21. He matched his career high with seven rebounds against Illinois on Feb 12. He moved back into the starting lineup on Feb. 16 and started six of the last seven games (all but Senior Night). Over the last seven games, he averages 4.6 points and 4.4 rebounds per game while shooting 59 percent from the field. Rivers had eight points and three rebounds against Illinois on Feb. 26 and seven points, six boards and three blocks against Purdue on Feb. 23.
The other player who has gained playing time in the wake of Biggs’ dismissal is Nathan Hawkins. He has played in 14 games and is averaging 1.6 points and 1.1 rebounds per game. His best effort of the year came against No. 10 Michigan on Feb. 5, and had 11 points, including a trio of 3-pointers, in 20 minutes of work.
- Nebraska has received 17 double-figure games from its bench, including seven from Deverell Biggs and five from Leslee Smith.
- Against South Carolina State, Nebraska’s bench combined for 51 of the 83 points, making the fifth time in the last decade NU has received at least 50 points from its bench.
A Historic Win
Nebraska’s 60-51 win at No. 9 Michigan State on Feb. 16 was one of the Huskers’ best road wins in recent history.
- The win marked just the fourth win over a top-10 opponent outside Lincoln and the first since 1997. NU also snapped a 29-game losing streak against top-10 teams away from Lincoln.
- Nebraska snapped a 21-game losing streak to ranked teams on the road, dating back to a 65-59 win at No. 22 Texas A&M and Feb.23, 2008. It also ended a 24-game streak against ranked teams outside of Lincoln.
- NU picked up its first Big Ten win against Michigan State, snapping a four-game losing streak to the Spartans. Nebraska’s only other win was an 86-81 overtime win over No. 15 Michigan State on Dec. 18, 1993.
- The win was the second road win against a top-10 team for Nebraska Coach Tim Miles, as his North Dakota State team topped eighth-ranked Marquette on Dec. 3, 2006.
Value the Basketball
Under Tim Miles, one major emphasis is taking care of the basketball, and the Huskers were among the nation’s best in that category in 2012-13. Nebraska finished 10th nationally with 10.7 turnovers per game - nearly three fewer than 2011-12. NU’s turnovers per game were the fewest in school history, bettering the 11.30 per game in 1984-85.
This season, the Huskers have also been among the national leaders in that category, ranking 51st nationally with 10.9 turnovers per game. NU has averaged 8.0 turnovers per game over the last three games, including just five against Wisconsin on March 9.
Nebraska is fourth in the Big Ten in turnover margin at +1.4 per contest and do a good job of getting the ball from opponents, ranking fifth in the Big Ten with 6.9 steals per game.
Home Sweet Home
Nebraska put together one of its best home seasons in school history inside Pinnacle Bank Arena in 2013-14. The Huskers are 15-1 at home with the only loss being a 71-70 loss to Big Ten champion Michigan on Jan. 9. The 15-1 mark was the best in the Big Ten this season and Nebraska’s best home record since going 17-1 in 1982-83.
Huskers Vs. Ranked Teams
Nebraska finished the regular season with a 3-3 mark against ranked teams. The Huskers snapped a 15-game losing streak to ranked foes on Jan. 20, against Ohio State and now have won their of their last four vs. ranked opponents.
- Nebraska is 62-234 all-time against ranked teams and has knocked off at least one ranked team in 12 of the past 14 seasons (all but 2010-11 & 2012-13).
- Nebraska snapped a 15-game losing streak against ranked foes on Jan. 20 with a 68-62 win over Ohio State.
- Nebraska knocked off a pair of top-10 teams for the first time since the 1993-94 season.
The Huskers’ New Home
Opened on Aug. 29, 2013, the 15,000-seat Pinnacle Bank Arena is the new home of the Nebraska men’s and women’s basketball programs. Pinnacle Bank Arena is part of a $344 million project in the Haymarket District which also includes a 200-room hotel, 100,000 square feet of retail space, another 100,000 square feet of office space and 100 residential units.
The $179 million dollar arena is easily accessible in downtown Lincoln as nearly 5,100 parking stalls will be within walking distance of the facility by the fall of 2014. Pinnacle Bank Arena includes an expansive student section with 1,000 seats on the 100 Level, including behind the team benches. Pinnacle Bank Arena also includes 36 suites, 20 loge boxes and 11 permanent concession stands around the arena.
Containing 470,400 square feet, the Pinnacle Bank Arena seats over 15,000 fans when configured for Husker basketball games. It is divided into two bowls (upper and lower) and three levels (100, 200, 300) with Premium Seating Suites and Loge Boxes located between Level 100 and Level 200. There are over 160 concession points of sale and two private Club Lounges, one located on the Main Concourse (Level 100) and one on the Premium Level Concourse.
Miles Wins No. 300 vs. WIU
Nebraska Coach Tim Miles collected his 300th career victory on Nov. 12 against Western Illinois. Miles, who is in his 19th season as a college head coach with stops at Mayville State, Southwest Minnesota State, North Dakota State and Colorado State before taking the Nebraska job in March of 2012. Ironically enough, his 200th win came against current Husker assistant Craig Smith when Miles was at North Dakota State and Smith was the head coach at Mayville State.
The 2013-14 Huskers have a number of players with relatives in college athletics. Sophomore 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. Will Shields is also a three-time finalist (2012-13-14) for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Two other Husker players have parents who participated in college sports, as David Rivers’ father, Ezelle, played collegiately at Arkansas Little Rock for four seasons, while Tai Webster’s father, Tony, was a first-team All-Western Athletic Conference selection at Hawaii.
Huskers Boast Experienced Coaching Staff
Tim Miles has put together an experienced staff as Nebraska looks to rebuild its program. In addition to Miles, who is in his 19th season, the coaches have combined for nearly 40 years of coaching experience.
Craig Smith is in his 17th season as a college head coach and has been with Coach Miles at nearly every stop of the way. Smith was Miles’ top assistant in his final four years at Colorado State and served as interim coach at CSU when Miles took the Nebraska job in March of 2013.
Chris Harriman is in his second season at Nebraska after working for the late Rick Majerus at Saint Louis University for four seasons. Harriman also spent four seasons as an assistant at Nova Southeastern University in Florida.
Kenya Hunter is the newest member of Miles’ coaching staff as he was added in June of 2013 after spending the previous six seasons at Georgetown. He also served as an assistant coach at Xavier and Duquesne and as director of operations at North Carolina State.