Huskers Look to Knock Off 'Jays
Game 11: at Creighton
Internet Video: Fox Sports Go
Radio: Husker Sports Network, including 105.9 FM (Omaha), 1400 AM (Lincoln) and 880 AM (Lexington)
Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka
Online Radio: Available online at Huskers.com, on the Huskers App and on TuneIn Radio and the TuneIn Radio App.
After a two-game stretch against a pair of Big Ten heavyweights, the Nebraska men's basketball team returns to non-conference action on Saturday afternoon, as the Huskers make the short drive to Omaha for the annual matchup with the Creighton Bluejays.
Tipoff from the CenturyLink Center is set for 1:30 p.m. and will be televised nationally on FS1 (DirecTV Ch. 219; DISH Ch. 150; Spectrum Chs. 75 and 400) with Justin Kutcher and Nick Bahe on the call. The game is also available on Fox Sports Go and the Fox Sports Go app.
Fans can follow all of the action across the state of Nebraska on the IMG Husker Sports Network with Kent Pavelka and Jake Muhleisen on the call. The game will also be available on Huskers.com and on the Huskers app. The radio broadcast begins one hour prior to tipoff.
Nebraska (7-3) put together its best effort of the season in posting a 78-68 win over No. 14 Minnesota on Tuesday evening. The Huskers shot 47 percent, including 57 percent in the second half, against a Minnesota defense which was holding opponents to under 40 percent shooting. More importantly, the Huskers held Minnesota to 32 percent shooting in holding the Golden Gophers to 21 points below their Big Ten leading scoring average.
Junior guard Glynn Watson Jr. led the Huskers with a season-high 29-point, nine-rebound performance against the Golden Gophers. Watson scored 20 of his 29 points in the second half, as Nebraska built a 17-point lead en route to its first victory over a top-15 team since 2016. Watson leads the Huskers in scoring (14.5 ppg), assists (3.5 apg) and steals (2.0 spg), as Nebraska has a balanced attack with five players averaging over nine points per game.
Saturday's game with the Bluejays continues a daunting two-week gauntlet, as NU has faced No. 3 Michigan State and No. 14 Minnesota before taking on Creighton on Saturday and No. 2 Kansas next Saturday.
Creighton comes into Saturday's contest with a 6-2 record following a 111-68 win over North Dakota on Tuesday. The Bluejays feature three players in double figures, led by Marcus Foster's 19.0 ppg. The Bluejays average 92.5 points per game and are shooting 52 percent from the field. Nebraska looks to snap a six-game losing streak to Creighton and earn its first win in Omaha since 2004.
9 - Rebounds for Glynn Watson Jr. in the win over Minnesota. Watson's nine rebounds was not only a career high, but the first time in 75 career games the 6-foot guard topped the Huskers in rebounding.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
+5.3 - Nebraska is averaging 5.3 more points per game than the first 10 games of last season. All three of NU's losses are against teams in the top-35 nationally in field goal percentage, including No. 1 Michigan State and No. 5 St. John's.
.422 - Nebraska is shooting .422 from 3-point range over the past five games, while averaging 8.6 3-pointers per game in that stretch.
.892 - Nebraska is 25-3 under Tim Miles when scoring at least 80 points. The Huskers are 4-0 when reaching the 80-point plateau this season.
.913 - Under Tim Miles, Nebraska is 21-2 when recording 15 or more assists in a game. The Huskers are 4-0 this season when dishing out at least 15 assists.
1.46 - NU's assist-to-turnover ratio over the last seven games.
2011 - The last time Nebraska beat a ranked team by double figures prior to Tuesday's win over No. 14 Minnesota. That season, NU beat No. 25 Missouri, 69-58.
The Bluejays come into Saturday's meeting with a 6-2 mark following a win over North Dakota on Tuesday. The Bluejays, who returned a pair of starters from an NCAA Tourmament team, opened the season with four straight wins, including victories over then-ranked Northwestern and UCLA, before falling to No. 22 Baylor in the championship game of the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City. Creighton moved into the top-25 before falling at No. 15 Gonzaga last Friday before rebounding on Tuesday night.
The Bluejays average 92.5 points per game while shooting 52 percent from the field and 39 percent from 3-point range. The strength of the CU attack is a pair of veteran wins in Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas. Foster, who began his career at Kansas State, leads the Bluejays in scoring at 19.0 points per game, while shooting 48 percent from the field and 41 percent from beyond the arc. Thomas is second on the team in scoring at 16.8 points per game, including 46 percent from 3-point range, while averaging 4.5 rebounds per game. Sophomore Martin Krampelj also averages double figures at 12.6 points per game, while grabbing a team-high 7.8 caroms per outing.
Greg McDermott is in his eighth year at CU after coaching at Iowa State, Northern Iowa, North Dakota State and Wayne State. McDermott and NU Head Coach Tim Miles have squared off several times during their days at the Division II level and have met six times while leading Division I programs: a 67-54 Iowa State win over North Dakota State in 2006-07 and Creighton's victories in the last five matchups between the two schools.
Nebraska and Creighton are meeting for the 51st time in series history on Saturday, as the teams have split the first 50 meetings. It is the longest non-conference series on the Huskers’ schedule. The home team has won nine of the last 12 years, while Nebraska looks to snap a six-game losing streak in the series, as the Huskers' last win in the series was a 59-54 win over the Bluejays in 2010-11.
LAST TIME VS. CREIGHTON
Tai Webster scored 20 points, and Ed Morrow Jr. grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds, but it was not enough as the Huskers fell to No. 10 Creighton, 77-62.
Webster scored 12 of his 20 tallies after the break, even though he dealt with foul trouble for most of the second half. The senior guard picked up his fourth foul with 14:55 left in the game and Creighton clinging to a 41-37 lead, but the Bluejays scored the next 11 points and outscored the Huskers 36-25 the rest of the way.
Glynn Watson Jr. scored nine points and Jack McVeigh added seven for the Big Red. NU was done in by shooting just 32 percent from the field, including 3-of-22 from long range.
LAST TIME OUT
Behind a season-high 29 points from Glynn Watson Jr., Nebraska topped No. 14 Minnesota, 78-68, Tuesday evening at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Watson hit 9-of-17 shots from the floor and grabbed a career-high nine rebounds, to pace three Huskers in double figures. The nine rebounds topped his previous best of six and played a major role in Nebraska out-rebounding the Golden Gophers, 42-38.
Nebraska (7-3, 1-1 Big Ten) held Minnesota to season lows in points and field goal percentage (32.4), holding the Big Ten’s highest scoring attack to 20 points below its season average.
Watson scored seven straight points for the Huskers in a 7-1 spurt in the opening four minutes of the second half, stretching what was a 39-31 halftime lead to 14 and force a Minnesota timeout.
Minnesota (8-2, 1-1 Big Ten) closed a 17-point deficit to eight on two occasions, the last being 74-55 with 47 seconds left, but Isaac Copeland and Watson went 4-of-6 from the line in the final minute to hold the Gophers at bay.
Copeland finished with 12 points and five rebounds, while James Palmer Jr. added 11 markers and four assists. NU’s biggest work was on the defensive end, where the Huskers blocked nine shots, including three by Duby Okeke and forced 13 Golden Gopher turnovers.
Nate Mason had 20 points to pace Minnesota, but Nebraska limited Jordan Murphy to 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting, and 10 boards as he totaled his 10th straight double-double.
One of the biggest differences between previous seasons and 2017-18 is the Huskers' interior size and it made a defensive impact in the Huskers' first seven games.
- Nebraska ranks 19th nationally and fourth in the Big Ten in blocked shots per game with 5.9 per outing entering the weekend. Last year, the Huskers averaged just 3.7 blocks per game. NU's school record for blocks is 6.1 per game set by the 1996-97 team, as that team blocked a school-record 202 shots that season.
- Nebraska has blocked five or more shots in eight of the first 10 games, including nine blocked shots against Minnesota, North Texas and Eastern Illinois.
- The Huskers' nine blocked shots on Tuesday were the most against a conference foe since recording 12 against Colorado in 2005.
- Nebraska has three players - Isaiah Roby (1.6 bpg), Duby Okeke (1.3 bpg) and Isaac Copeland (1.1 bpg) - currently averaging at least one block per game.
- Isaiah Roby's six blocks against Eastern Illinois was the most by a Husker since the 2005-06 season. In fact, no Husker had totaled five or more blocked shots since the 2011-12 campaign.
HUSKERS LOOK FOR BALANCE
Tim Miles believes that the 2017-18 Huskers are the deepest roster he has enjoyed in his six-year tenure. With nine players averaging at least 9.0 minutes per outing, Miles has relied on the Huskers' depth early on. While Nebraska has had at least one player in the top five in scoring in the Big Ten the last four seasons, the 2017-18 squad does not have a scorer in the top-10 in the Big Ten, but does have three players averaging double figures and two others averaging 9.0 points per game.
- The Huskers currently have three players averaging double figures. Under Miles, NU has had three double figure scorers twice in five seasons (2012-13 and 2015-16).
- Nebraska is 7-0 this season when three or more players reach double figures.
- Seven Huskers have already reached double figures in scoring, including 20-point efforts from Isaac Copeland, James Palmer Jr. and Glynn Watson Jr.
- The last time Nebraska had more than three players average double figures was in 1993-94, when future NBA pros Eric Piatkowski and Erick Strickland highlighted five double-figure scorers for the Big Red.
SHARING THE BALL
For Tim Miles, a main offensive focus over the summer and during the preseason has been better ball movement to create better shot opportunities. Compared to the first nine games of last year, Nebraska has raised its scoring average by more than five points per game (74.0-68.7) and the main reason has been better ball movement.
- Nebraska's assists per game has jumped by more than four per game compared to last season, as NU is currently seventh in the Big Ten in assists per game at 14.6 per game.
- NU ranks in the top five in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.2-to-1, fourth) and turnover margin (+2.9, fifth).
- Nebraska has averaged assists on 57.5 percent of its baskets, which is the highest rate of Tim Miles 13-year tenure as a Division I coach. The last time a Miles-coached team assisted on 50 percent of its baskets came during the 2011-12 season at Colorado State (50.1). That team won 20 games and earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament.
- Nebraska has dished out 20 or more assists three times in the first 10 games. During the previous five years, it has occurred only once in 161 games. Nebraska had 22 assists against Marist, its highest total since the 2011-12 campaign.
- Glynn Watson (3.5 apg), Evan Taylor (3.0 apg) and James Palmer (2.8 apg) all average at least 2.5 assists per game.
WATSON LEADS HUSKER ATTACK
Glynn Watson Jr. may be one of the most underrated guards in the Big Ten Conference. Last year, the 6-foot junior averaged 13.0 points, 2.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game in 2016-17.
This season, Watson has continued to improve, as he comes into Saturday's game at Creighton averaging 14.5 points, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game. He comes off a season-best 29 point, nine-rebound effort in the win over No. 14 Minnesota on Tuesday.
- Watson is currently third in the Big Ten in steals per game, 11th in the Big Ten in assists and eighth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5-to-1).
- He is one of only 16 players nationally, and the only Big Ten player, averaging at least 14.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game.
- Watson keyed the win over Long Beach State with a then-season best 26 points and a career high six steals, as he helped force LBSU into 21 turnovers.
- With 841 points entering Saturday's game, Watson sits in 45th place in NU's career scoring list. In addition, his first assist on Saturday will be the 200th of his career.
- Watson turned in a strong performance at the AdvoCare Invitational, averaging 15.3 points, 5.7 assists, 3.7 steals and 3.3 rebounds per game, while posting a 5.7-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. In addition to his effort against Long Beach State, Watson also had 11 points and seven assists in the loss to UCF.
- He has four career games with five or more steals, including a career-best six against Long Beach State on Nov. 26. Watson's six steals that game were the most by a Husker since 2012.
- Watson already has a trio of 20-point efforts this season, including a season-high 29 against Minnesota on Dec. 5. He also had 26 points against Long Beach State and 21 points against Eastern Illinois in the season opener. He has 10 career 20-point games.
- He is on pace to be NU's 29th 1,000-point scorer later this season and would become NU's fourth 1,000-point scorer in Tim Miles' six seasons at Nebraska. He would also be the third Husker from Winchester St. Joseph to reach 1,000 points at Nebraska, joining Carl Hayes (1900-92) and Clifford Scales (1988-91). All three played for legendary coach Gene Pingatore, who is in his 49th season at the school.
- Watson scored a career-high 34 points in Nebraska's 93-90 double OT win over Iowa last season. His 34-point effort tied for 10th on NU's single-game scoring list, while his seven 3-pointers was the second-highest single-game total in school history.
- Watson has always been in the clutch, as he shot 40 percent from 3-point range, 85 percent from the foul line and had a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in the last four minutes and OT last season. In his career, Watson is a career 85 percent shooter in the last four minutes, including 14-of-16 this season.
- Watson’s 13.0 points per game entering the season was the second-highest returning average by a Husker guard in the last decade, trailing only All-Big Ten performer Terran Petteway’s 18.1 ppg entering the 2014-15 season.
- Watson's older brother was Demetri McCamey, who earned first-team All-Big Ten honors as a junior for the Fighting Illini in 2010.
COPELAND BREAKS OUT
For Isaac Copeland, his breakout game against North Dakota on Nov. 19 was nearly a year in the making. Copeland, who transferred to Nebraska from Georgetown in January, had gotten off to a slow start offensively, averaging 7.0 points on 32 percent shooting in NU's first three games.
Against North Dakota, Copeland eclipsed that total in the first half, hitting eight of his first nine shots to score 19 first-half points as part of his 30-point effort. The performance marked Copeland's second career 30-point effort, as he scored a career-high 32 points against Marquette during the 2015-16 campaign.
- Copeland is averaging 14.1 points per game on 53 percent shooting and he has been in double figures in five of the last seven games.
- He paced NU in both points (15) and rebounds (eight) in the win over Boston College and totaled 12 points, five rebounds and two blocks against No. 14 Minnesota.
- Ranks 16th in the Big Ten in rebounding with a team-high 6.2 caroms per game, while also averaging 1.1 blocked shots per game.
- Copeland played five career games against Creighton during his tenure at Georgetown. His best performance came as a sophomore when he had seven points, seven assists and 10 rebounds in a 74-73 win over the Bluejays.
Dec. 4: Plays final game at Georgetown, five minutes off the bench against Elon
Jan. 9: Arrives at Nebraska for the spring semester after spending two and a half years at Georgetown
Feb. 23: Undergoes back surgery for a herniated disc and was sidelined until August recovering from the injury. Copeland received a medical hardship because of the injury and subsequent surgery
Sept. 12: Receives waiver from NCAA declaring him eligible for the start of the season
GILL RETURNS BETTER THAN EVER
After a junior season where he battled a pair of knee injuries, including a ruptured right patella tendon on Christmas night, senior Anton Gill is healthy and giving the Huskers another valuable offensive option.
Gill missed NU's first two games because of a groin injury, but has returned with a flourish, averaging nearly 10 points per game while coming off the Husker bench. Gill leads the Huskers in 3-pointers (18) and 3-point percentage (.500), ranking sixth in the Big Ten in 3-pointers per game (2.3) and in 3-point percentage.
- Gill has reached double figures three times in the last seven games, averaging 10.3 ppg on 51 percent shooting in that stretch. His first double-figure game came against North Dakota, when he set then-personal bests in points (16), field goals (six), 3-pointers (four) and assists (three) in 24 minutes.
- He scored a career-high 17 points against Marist, hitting 5-of-7 3-pointers against the Red Foxes and added 13 points in the win over Long Beach, marking the first consecutive double-figure performances of his college career.
- All nine of Gill's career double-figure performances have come off the bench, as he had four during his tenure at Louisville and two last year.
TAYLOR SUPPLIES STEADINESS
Senior Evan Taylor has quietly put together a solid start to his senior year. The 6-foot-5 guard is averaging 9.0 points per game while usually guarding the opponent's top scoring threat. Taylor has raised his number in nearly every category and has reached double figures four times in 10 games after having six double-figure games in his first season at NU. The biggest improvement in Taylor's game has been his shooting, as he is at nearly 50 percent from the field, including 9-of-13 from 3-point range. Last year, he had just six 3-pointers in 31 contests.
COPELAND, PALMER TRANSFER INTO HUSKER STARTERS
A pair of transfers have added experience and scoring punch to Nebraska's lineup. Isaac Copeland and James Palmer Jr. look to continue the success of transfers who have enjoyed success under Miles. Copeland and Palmer look to join Andy Ogide (CSU, 2009), Terran Petteway (NU, 2014) and Andrew White III (NU, 2016), as players who earned all-conference recognition in their first season under Miles.
Copeland started 49 games in two-plus seasons at Georgetown, helping the Hoyas to the 2015 NCAA Tournament. In his last full season in 2015-16, Copeland started 33 games, averaging 11.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. A former top-20 recruit, Copeland was a preseason All-Big East selection last year before he was sidelined with his back injury. This season, Copeland leads NU in rebounding at 6.2 per game while ranking third in scoring (12.0 ppg) and in blocked shots (1.1 bpg).
Palmer Jr. has quickly made his mark in his first season of action at Nebraska, averaging 14.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He is also second on the team in steals and third in assists.
- Palmer has reached double figures nine times, including a season-high 22 points in the loss to UCF on Thanksgiving. In his last season at Miami, Palmer was in double figures just twice in 34 games.
- He was one of three Huskers in double figures against No. 14 Minnesota, finishing with 11 points, a team-high four assists and three rebounds in 34 minutes of work.
- He averaged 16.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game during the AdvoCare Invitational, reaching double figures in all three games.
- He played a key role in the win over Boston College, scoring a team-high 15 points and adding a career-high five steals.
- Palmer keyed the win over North Texas with a then-career-high 18 points, including 11 points in NU's game-opening 25-2 run.
- A former top-100 recruit, Palmer played at the University of Miami for two seasons, averaging 3.4 points on the Hurricanes' Sweet 16 team in 2015-16.
STRONGER ROBY EMERGES AS STAT STUFFER
After serving as a role player as a freshman, Isaiah Roby spent the summer bulking up to prepare for the rigors of the season. Now, the 6-foot-8, 225-pound sophomore has the strength to match his skillset and it is paying off in 2017-18
- He enters the Creighton game averaging 6.4 points on 54 percent shooting, 5.1 rebounds and a team-high 1.6 blocks per game. He had missed the Boston College game and played just four minutes vs. Long Beach State because of an ankle injury.
- Roby has reached double figures three times in eight games after hitting double figures once as a freshman.
- He opened the year with the best performance of his career, an 11-point, 13-rebounds, six-block performance against Eastern Illinois, setting personal bests in all three categories. His six blocks were the most by a Husker since 2011.
- Roby had 11 points, four rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots in the win over North Dakota.
- Roby has shown expanded range this season, hitting 4-of-10 from 3-point range, including a pair of 3-pointers at No. 3 Michigan State. Last year, the 6-foot-8 forward hit four in 30 appearances.