Game 18: vs. Purdue
Game Date: Jan. 16, 2013
Tipoff Time: 8:06 p.m. (CT)
Venue: Bob Devaney Sports Center
2012-13 Record: 9-8, 0-4 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 9-8 (1st year)
Career Record: 292-228 (18th year)
2012-13 Record: 8-8, 2-2 Big Ten
Head coach: Matt Painter
Record at Purdue: 168-85 (8th year)
Career Record: 193-90 (9th year)
Huskers on TV/Radio/Internet
Television: BTN and BTN2Go
(Ch. 610 on DirecTV; Chs. 439, 9500 on DISH; Chs. 24 and 333-SD, 1333-HD on Time Warner Cable; Chs. 80 SD, 1080-HD on Cox Cable)
Play-by-play: Kevin Kugler
Color: Shon Morris
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; Color: Matt Davison
Internet Radio/Stats: Free on Huskers.com
Satellite Radio: Sirius Ch. 128
Red Cross Night Set for Wednesday
Wednesday's game against Purdue is Red Cross Night, and Husker student-athletes will be taking donations for the Lancaster County Red Cross at each of the entrances of the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
Huskers Return Home for Purdue
After battling a pair of ranked teams on the road last week, the Nebraska basketball team returns to the Devaney Center Wednesday night, as they host the Purdue Boilermakers. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. (central) and tickets for the contest are available for as little as $10 by visiting Huskers.com.
Wednesday's game will be carried across the state on the 29-station Husker Sports Network, including flagship stations KLIN (1400 AM/94.5 FM) in Lincoln, KFAB (1110 AM) in Omaha and KRVN (880 AM) in Lexington, with Kent Pavelka and Matt Davison calling all of the action. The game can be heard for free at Huskers.com and is also available on the Huskers' app on iOS or android devices.
The matchup between the Huskers and Boilermakers will be televised nationally on BTN with Kevin Kugler and Shon Morris on the call, as every remaining Husker game in 2012-13 will be televised nationally. Wednesday's game is also available on BTN2GO, including iOS or android devices.
The Huskers (9-8, 0-4 B1G) were on the cusp of their first road win over a ranked opponent since 2008, as the Huskers were within a point of No. 22 Michigan State with two minutes left, but the Spartans got a big 3-pointer from Gary Harris and pulled away for a 66-55 win.
Nebraska, which was without two of the top eight players because of injuries, shook up its lineup and produced its highest offensive output in Big Ten play. Sophomore David Rivers made his first career start and responded with 18 points on a perfect 8-of-8 shooting from the floor and added six rebounds. He was one of three Huskers in double figures against the Spartans, as Dylan Talley had 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while Ray Gallegos added 12 points.
Rivers, who did not score a point in nine Big Ten games as a freshman, has averaged 7.8 points per game and is shooting 74 percent from the floor in conference action this season.
Purdue comes into Wednesday's game with an 8-8 record after a 60-42 win over Penn State on Sunday. The Boilermakers, who are 2-2 in Big Ten action, make their first trip to Lincoln since 1978, and feature one of the youngest lineups in the Big Ten with three freshmen starting.
By The Numbers
8-of-8 - David Rivers' shooting against Michigan State, which was one shy of Nebraska's single-game record without a miss. Here is the list of Husker players who have shot better than Rivers did at MSU on Sunday.
7th - Strength of schedule for the Huskers in 2012-13 by RealtimeRPI, as Nebraska has played five teams currently ranked dating back to Dec. 6. The strength of schedule ranks second to Minnesota among Big Ten teams. In all, five Big Ten teams - Minnesota (3), Nebraska (7), Illinois (8), Michigan (19) and Indiana (22) - are among the top 25 in strength of schedule as of Sunday's games.
Purdue comes to Lincoln with an 8-8 record and a 2-2 Big Ten mark following a 60-42 win over Penn State on Sunday afternoon. Under the direction of eighth-year coach Matt Painter (168-85 at Purdue; 193-90 overall), the Boilermakers have made six straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including back-to-back Sweet 16s in 2009 and 2010. Last year, they won 22 games before losing to eventual runner-up Kansas in the third round.
With only two starters back in 2012-13, Purdue got off to a slow start and was just 4-6 after consecutive losses to Eastern Michigan and Notre Dame in mid-December. However, Purdue has played well of late, winning four of its last six games with the only setbacks in that stretch coming against nationally ranked Ohio State and Michigan State.
Purdue, which starts three freshmen, are 1-5 in games away from West Lafayette with that victory coming in a 73-61 victory over Clemson in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Nov. 28. The Boilermakers were tested outside Big Ten play with games against Villanova, Oregon State, Clemson, Xavier and Notre Dame.
The Boilermakers are coming off one of their best efforts of the season. Against Penn State on Sunday, Purdue held the Nittany Lions to 25.9 percent shooting from the field and had a 43-33 advantage on the glass. Freshman Ronnie Johnson led four Boilermakers in double figures with 13 points while freshman A.J. Hammons totaled 12 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Junior guard Terone Johnson leads the Boilermakers with 13.1 points per game while also having better than a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Hammons has been one of the Big Ten's best freshmen, as the 7-footer is averaging 10.1 points and a team-best 6.3 rebounds per contest. Senior D.J. Byrd is a prolific outside shooter and averages 9.9 points per game with a team-high 34 3-pointers. Byrd has over half of Purdue's 3-point baskets this season.
Nebraska-Purdue Series History
Wednesday's game between the Huskers and Purdue will be the 11th all-time meeting between the two programs.
- Purdue holds an 8-2 lead in the all-time series and has won the last four matchups dating back to 1978.
- The Boilermakers won both matchups last season, winning the regular-season meeting in West Lafayette (83-65) before ending Nebraska's season at the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis (79-61).
- The Huskers' last win in the series was a 96-85 win in Lincoln on Dec. 5, 1964.
- Prior to last season, the two teams have not met since 1979. This is Purdue's first visit to Lincoln since Dec. 2, 1978.
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 the Huskers with 22 points, including 14 before halftime. Spencer connected on 7-of-16 field goals, including 4-of-9 from beyond the three-point arc. Toney McCray and Dylan Talley also reached double figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively, in the game.
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 continued to blister the nets from three-point range, and put the contest out of reach with a 10-0 run to take a 67-48 lead.
Last Time Out
David Rivers led Nebraska with 18 points in his first career start, but No. 22 Michigan State closed the game on an 11-2 run, as the Spartans held on for a 66-56 victory over Nebraska.
Rivers had 18 points on a perfect 8-of-8 shooting from the field, and added six rebounds to lead three Huskers in double figures. Dylan Talley had 17 points and four assists while Ray Gallegos added 12 points and three steals in a game which saw 12 lead changes and seven ties.
Derrick Nix led MSU with 17 points, while Adreian Payne and Brenden Dawson added 14 and 12 points, respectively, as the Spartans shot 45 percent from the field and enjoyed a 36-31 advantage on the boards against the smaller Husker lineup. Nix and Payne combined to go 12-of-15 from the floor, including a perfect 6-of-6 night for Payne off the bench.
The Huskers, who were without two of their top eight players because of injuries, were within 55-54 with 2:36 left after a Ray Gallegos basket. NU had a chance to take the lead on the next possession after Benny Parker's steal, but Talley missed the mid-range jumper and Gary Harris came down on the next possession and drained a 3-pointer from the wing with 1:49 remaining giving Michigan State a four-point lead at 58-54. Harris was 0-of-10 from the field before his 3-pointer sparked MSU to a strong finish.
Quick Notes From the Michigan State Game
- David Rivers made his first career start against Michigan State, as Nebraska used its third different lineup of the season. Rivers finished with 18 points, the second-highest output of his career. He went 8-for-8, one off Nebraska's single-game record for shots made without a miss.
- Nebraska scored 56 points, its highest total in Big Ten play. NU's previous high was 47 at Michigan on Wednesday.
- Dylan Talley finished with eight rebounds, matching his season high (also vs. Wake Forest) and 17 points and four assists.
- Ray Gallegos reached double figures for the seventh straight game with 12 points and also tied a career high with three steals and two blocked shots. Gallegos has now played in every minute of Nebraska's four Big Ten games.
- Jordan Tyrance set career highs in minutes (12), assists (two) and blocked shots (two).
- Brandon Ubel missed only the second game of his career, snapping a streak of 94 straight appearances for the senior. Ubel had started Nebraska's last 47 games before suffering the injury against Michigan.
- Nebraska has now held 16 of 17 opponents under their 50 percent shooting and has held 14 of 17 foes under their scoring average.
- Nebraska is now 1-8 when shooting less than 40 percent from the field.
Big Ten Loaded in RPI
The Big Ten has a reputation for being one of the best conferences in college basketball and 2012-13 is no exception. Six teams are ranked in this week's national polls and nine of the 12 teams are in the top 100 of the NCAA's RPI released on Monday, including the Huskers, who are 61st this week.
Value the Basketball
Under Tim Miles, one thing the Huskers have done well is cut down on the number of turnovers. Despite losing its top three point guards from last year and losing its backup point guard to a season-ending injury, Nebraska is fifth in the Big Ten and 25th nationally with 11.3 turnovers per game - nearly two fewer per game than last season - and has committed 10 turnovers or less seven times this season. NU had a season-low six turnovers at No. 2 Michigan on Jan. 9, the fourth time in a five-game stretch where the Huskers committed 10 turnovers or less. NU's six turnovers at Michigan was the team's lowest single-game total since the 2009-10 campaign.
Creep, Crawl, Walk, Run
With four new starters from last season and an eight-player rotation which includes only two players who saw action last season, there have been some bumps along the way, as the Huskers install a new offensive system and the headline has been a common mantra of Coach Miles during his first season on the job.
Last year, his Colorado State team led the Mountain West Conference in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and free throw percentage, ranking in the top-10 nationally in both free throw and 3-point percentage. The 2012-13 Huskers come into Wednesday's game with Purdue ranked 11th (.417), 10th (.296) and ninth (.664), in those respective categories. Nebraska scored a season-high 89 points - its highest offensive output in four seasons - before being held to 52 points in the loss to UTEP.
Nebraska has struggled to find points in Big Ten play, averaging 47.0 ppg in Big Ten play and has been to the foul line just 28 times in four Big Ten contests. Injuries forced Nebraska to alter the lineup against Michigan State, and Nebraska scored 56 points against the Spartans on Sunday, the Huskers' highest total in conference play. Last year, NU managed just 34 points in East Lansing in a loss to the Spartans.
Learning to Win the Close Ones
For most of the season, the Huskers have been good at winning the close games, going 3-0 in games decided by five points or less, but were unable to close out Wisconsin on Sunday. The Huskers led 38-37 with 6:16 left, but made just one of their final nine shots from the floor in the six-point loss to the Badgers. Last year, NU won just four of seven games decided by five points or less. Nebraska had another opportunity at No. 22 Michigan State, trailing by one with two minutes left, but MSU closed the game on an 11-2 run to pull away.
Balance Has been key to Success for Huskers
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 five players (Brandon Ubel, Dylan Talley, Ray Gallegos, Andre Almeida and David Rivers) have all scored at least 20 points at least once this season.
Nebraska has three players averaging at least 12.0 points per game, which would mark the first time that the Huskers have had three players average double figures in a season since 2005-06.
When Nebraska has three or more players in double figures, the Huskers are 7-2 following Sunday's loss at Michigan State, but just 2-6 when less than three players reach double digits. While Nebraska had three players in double figures, just four players scored in Sunday's loss. Nebraska played just six scholarship players at Michigan State following injuries to Brandon Ubel and Mike Peltz.
Husker Defense Has Been Solid
While Nebraska's offense has been in transition, the Huskers have done a good job slowing tempo and controlling things on the defensive end.
- The Huskers are sixth in the Big Ten in scoring defense, allowing just 60.9 points per game.
- NU has held 14 of its first 17 foes under their 2012-13 scoring averages, while four teams have been held to season lows.
- The Huskers have held 16 of 17 teams to under 50 percent shooting from the field.
- Nebraska is fourth in Big Ten games in scoring defense, allowing 61.2 points per game. Nebraska held Wisconsin nearly 25 points below its season average on Jan. 6, and limited Michigan to 62 points after the Wolverines averaged 94.5 points per game in their first two Big Ten games.
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 came into this season with 59 career starts at Nebraska, while the remaining seven returnees had combined for seven career starts for the Scarlet and Cream.
While most known for his rebounding, Ubel has picked up some of the scoring slack, averaging 12.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, as he ranks among the Big Ten leaders in both categories. Ubel missed Sunday's game at Michigan State, snapping streaks of 47 consecutive starts and 96 consecutive appearances - both team highs. He is listed as doubtful for Wednesday's game against Purdue.
Ubel, who averaged only 5.7 points per game over his first three seasons at Nebraska, has become more offensive-minded as a senior, reaching double figures in 12 of the 16 games he has played.
Ubel, who had one double-double in his first three seasons at Nebraska, has three this season, a 21-point, 12-rebound effort against Southern on Nov. 11, a 17-point, 13-rebound outing in the loss to Kent State on Nov. 24, and a 15-point, 10-rebound effort against Jacksonville State on Dec. 18. He enters the week ranked third in the Big Ten in double-doubles. Ubel nearly had his fourth double-double of 2012-13 against Wisconsin on Jan. 6 with 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and eight rebounds, along with a career-high three blocked shots. Ubel had a team-high 10 rebounds in Wednesday's loss to No. 2 Michigan, the fourth time this year he has grabbed double figures in rebounds, before suffering the elbow injury in the final minutes of action.
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 at 80.1 percent. Last year, Ubel shot 82.5 percent from the foul line. Ubel is shooting 94 percent (25-of-27) from the line dating back to Dec. 15.
Ubel closed out his junior season by playing some of the best basketball of his career, averaging 9.3 points on 68 percent shooting, 5.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game in the Huskers' final six contests. He reached double figures in scoring seven times in 2011-12, including a season-high 17 points against Iowa on Feb. 28, on a perfect 7-of-7 shooting from the floor.
Off the court, Ubel is a broadcasting major who will graduate in May. He has done some women's basketball play-by-by for the campus radio station and interned at a local ABC affiliate over the summer.
Talley Takes Offensive Role
Senior Dylan Talley came into the 2012-13 season as the Huskers' most proven scorer and has shouldered a significant role in NU's offense. The 6-foot-5 senior enters Wednesday's game against Purdue averaging a team-high 13.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. He is 13th in the league in scoring and third in minutes played with 35.2 per game.
Talley has been in double figures in 14 of Nebraska's first 17 contests and has topped the Huskers in scoring seven times this season. 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. It was one of three 20-point efforts for the senior, who did not score more than 18 points in any game during 2011-12. 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's role has changed in recent games, serving as one of the Huskers' primary point guards and helping to run the offense. 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 career-high five assists. Talley started at point guard against No. 22 Michigan State on Sunday and had 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 38 minutes of work.
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 of the biggest surprises for the Huskers has been the emergence of Ray Gallegos. The fourth-year junior from Salt Lake City redshirted last year and spent the year adding strength and improving his shooting range. The work has paid off for Gallegos, who may be one of the Big Ten's biggest surprises in 2012-13.
Gallegos, who averaged 2.6 points per game in 2010-11, is second on the squad in scoring at 13.3 points per game and ranks fourth in the Big Ten with 2.4 3-pointers per game. He has been in double figures 13 times this season after accomplishing the feat just three times in his first two years at Nebraska.
Among Big Ten players, he is sixth among all players in 20-point games this year - an impressive feat for a player whose career high entering the season was 15 points.
Gallegos is averaging a team-high 15.4 points per game over the Huskers' last six games, and has led the Huskers in scoring three times in conference play, including a 19-point night at No. 2 Michigan on Wednesday. Gallegos has been in double figures in each of the last seven games, the longest stretch in his career.
Last month, Gallegos put on a show in El Paso, as he earned a spot on the Sun Bowl Invitational All-Tournament team. He averaged 20.5 ppg, including a career-high 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting in Nebraska's loss to UTEP. In the semifinals, he scored 11 of Nebraska's first 16 points to help the Huskers get out to an early lead.
Gallegos put together the best two-game stretch of his career, posting consecutive 20-point efforts at Wake Forest and USC, a stretch where he shot 56 percent from 3-point range. Against USC on Dec. 3, Gallegos had a career-high six 3-pointers and scored the Huskers' final 11 points of the first half to break open a tie game. At Wake Forest on Nov. 27, he finished with a career-high 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting, as he made his first seven shots of the second half and totaled 17 of his 20 points after halftime.
Gallegos, who never played more than 27 minutes in any game during his first two seasons, leads the Big Ten with 36.7 minutes per game and has logged every minute of conference play. He is the first Husker player since 2000 to play every minute of four consecutive games (OSU, UW, UM, MSU). His minutes per game is the most since Dave Hoppen averaged 38.5 minutes per game in 1984-85.
In the last 25 years, Charles Richardson Jr. is the only Husker to average more than 35 minutes per game for a full season when he averaged 36.3 minutes per game in 2006-07.
As a sophomore, Gallegos played in 25 games, including a start in the season opener, and averaged 2.8 points and 1.0 rebound per game. The Salt Lake City native's best game of 2010-11 came against Grambling, when he came off the bench for 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
Nebraska has enjoyed a pair of efforts with multiple 20-point games this season. Against Central Michigan, Dylan Talley (21) and David Rivers (20) both had at least 20 points in Nebraska's 89-74 win. Earlier this season, Andre Almeida and Ray Gallegos enjoyed 20-point efforts against Wake Forest on Nov. 27, marking the first time since March 5, 2007, that the Huskers had multiple players with 20-point nights. In that game, Marcus Perry (25); Aleks Maric (23) and Paul Velander (20) all eclipsed the 20-point mark.
With a short bench, the Huskers have relied on their starters often through the first half of the season. Ray Gallegos and Dylan Talley rank first and third, respectively, in the Big Ten in minutes per game while NU has three players (Gallegos, Talley and Brandon Ubel) averaging over 32 minutes per night. With Ubel's absence, David Rivers and Gallegos played all 40 minutes against Michigan State while Talley logged 38 minutes against the Spartans.
Almeida Looks to Provide Inside Presence
As Nebraska hits the grind of the schedule, the Huskers will need a strong interior presence and are hoping Andre Almeida can fill the role. The 6-foot-11 senior averages 6.2 points on 54 percent shooting, 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, ranking 10th in the Big Ten in blocked shots.
Almeida sprained his right ankle in the first half of the Big Ten opener at Ohio State and returned to action last week. He had two rebounds and a blocked shot in 10 minutes at No. 2 Michigan, but went scoreless in 24 minutes at Michigan State on Sunday.
Almeida 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. He made the most of his opportunities against Nicholls State with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting and six rebounds in his last game before the injury.
In 2010-11, he averaged 5.2 points on 56 percent shooting, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game as the Huskers' top reserve in the post. Almeida reached double figures on five occasions, including a 20-point, seven-rebound effort in his debut against South Dakota. Two of Almeida's best efforts of 2010-11 came against a pair of top-five teams, as he had 10 points and seven rebounds at No. 3 Kansas and 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting and five rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench in Nebraska's win over No. 3 Texas. Almeida was a force on the defensive end, ranking sixth in the Big 12 in blocked shots.
Shields Makes Name For Himself
For nearly the first month of the year, Nebraska relied on a shortened bench, as Shavon Shields missed five of NU's first six games with an elbow injury. A layoff following the win at Wake Forest helped Shields get back into game action, and the freshman has provided a much-needed boost.
On the season, Shields is averaging 5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while averaging 24.3 minutes per game. In Big Ten play, he has continued to make strides, raising his scoring and rebounding numbers from his non-conference totals. The 6-foot-6 freshman has been a force on the glass in recent games, averaging a team-high 6.7 rebounds per game over Nebraska's last seven games.
Shields has grabbed at least six rebounds in all four of Nebraska's Big Ten games, including a personal-best nine rebounds at No. 8 Ohio State on Jan. 2 and eight rebounds in his first career start against Wisconsin on Jan. 6. Shields had nine points and six rebounds in Sunday's loss to No. 22 Michigan State.
Among Big Ten freshmen, he is second only to Purdue's A.J. Hammons in rebounds, pulling down 7.3 caroms per game in Big Ten action.
At the Sun Bowl Invitational, he averaged 5.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, as he grabbed seven rebounds in each game. Against Jacksonville State on Dec. 18, Shields came off the bench to score a career-high 14 points, hitting 6-of-7 shots from the field and also added three rebounds and two steals to help NU snap a two-game losing streak.
His return helps the Huskers depth, as NU has only nine scholarship players available for the 2012-13 season, a total which includes former walk-on Trevor Menke. Of NU's nine scholarship players, only four (Dylan Talley, Brandon Ubel, David Rivers and Menke) saw action for the Huskers during the 2011-12 season.
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 3.6 rebounds per game while playing in all 17 contests. Rivers has been at his best in recent games, averaging 9.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per game over the Huskers' last seven games. Rivers is shooting 67 percent from the field in that stretch and has put together the first three double-figure efforts of his career. He made his first career start in Sunday's loss at No. 22 Michigan State, 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. Prior to that game, Rivers turned an ankle against Oregon and played just 11 minutes in NU's previous two contests.
Against Nicholls State on Dec. 29, Rivers cracked double figures for the second time in three games, totaling 12 points, six rebounds and a pair of steals in 28 minutes. He came off the bench to add seven points and four rebounds at No. 8 Ohio State on Jan. 2 after not scoring in Big Ten play as a freshman.
Parker Makes A Point
One of two freshmen who has started this year, Benny Parker became only the 10th freshman to start a season opener since 1995. Parker has been steady, averaging 3.4 points and 2.6 assists per game. Parker has a 1.5 assist-to-turnover ratio and has committed one turnover or less in eight of NU's first 17 games.
The Kansas City, Kan., native has shown his toughness over the last month, battling foot and knee injuries and not missing any game action. He originally suffered the knee sprain in practice on Dec. 10, but played 27 minutes in the Huskers' loss at Oregon five days later.
His best performance in Big Ten action was against Wisconsin on Jan. 6, when he had just one turnover in the Huskers' loss to the Badgers while playing a career-high 31 minutes. He came off the bench against Michigan State and had two assists and two steals in 20 minutes of work.
Parker dished out 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. Against No. 16 Creighton, Parker was held scoreless, but had five assists in the losing effort.
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.
Of Nebraska's three active point guards playing this season, two are Division I newcomers, as junior college transfer Mike Peltz joined the team after walking on in October but will miss the remainder of the season following knee surgery. Sophomore Trevor Menke is the Huskers' other primary point guard, as junior college transfer Deverell Biggs is redshirting this season.
Huskers Lose Peltz for The Season
Nebraska Coach Tim Miles announced on Jan. 11 that junior guard Mike Peltz will undergo season-ending knee surgery in the near future. The 6-foot-2 junior guard from Alliance, Neb., played in 14 of the Huskers' first 16 contests, averaging 2.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.1 points per game in over 15 minutes of action per contest, as he saw time at point guard, as well as at the forward spot.
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.
Peltz will have a patella tendon debridement on his left knee, and the typical rehab schedule for the surgery is three to four months, allowing him to be at 100 percent for offseason workouts.
- Nebraska is a perfect 4-0 when it shoots above 50 percent from the field, but has struggled in its eight losses, being held under 40 percent in each setback.
- The Huskers have held 16 of 17 opponents under 50 percent shooting this year, as Kent State, which shot 57.1 percent on Nov. 24, is the only foe to shoot better than 50 percent. The Huskers have also held seven opponents to under 40 percent shooting.
- Balance has been key for the Huskers, as Nebraska is 7-2 when three players reach double figures and just 2-6 when two players or less reach double digits.
- 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.
- The 89 points against Central Michigan was Nebraska'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.
- Miles became 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, 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. Prior to the Wake Forest win, Nebraska has won nine road games by double figures over the last decade.
- 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's 51-point second half at Wake Forest was its highest scoring half since scoring 55 against Arkansas Pine Bluff on Nov. 15, 2010, a span of 67 games.
- Nebraska held Horizon League favorite 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. It marked the first time since Feb. 14, 1998, that NU won a game without making a 3-pointer.
- Nebraska held Wisconsin to 47 points on Jan. 3, the fewest points allowed by Nebraska in conference action since giving up 46 in a win over Oklahoma on Jan. 30, 2010.
- NU committed just five turnovers against No. 2 Michigan on Jan. 9, NU's lowest total since a school-record three turnovers against Baylor on Feb. 10, 2010.