Game 23: vs. Ohio State
Game Date: Feb. 2, 2013
Tipoff Time: 6:06 p.m.
Venue: Bob Devaney Sports Center
2012-13 Record: 11-11, 2-7 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 11-11 (1st year)
Career Record: 294-231 (18th year)
Ohio State Buckeyes
2012-13 Record: 16-4, 6-2 Big Ten
Head coach: Thad Matta
Record at Ohio State: 237-69 (9th year)
Career Record: 339-100 (13th 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: Jim Jackson
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. 94, XM Ch. 191
Huskers Take on Buckeyes Saturday Night
The Nebraska men's basketball team looks for its first win over a ranked team this season, as the Huskers play host to No. 11 Ohio State Saturday night at the Devaney Center.
Tip-off is set for 6:06 p.m. (central) and tickets can be purchased for as little as $10 by visiting Huskers.com, by calling 800-8-BIGRED or at the Devaney Center Ticket Office beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. Saturday's game will also feature a performance by the FM Acro Team at halftime.
The game with the Buckeyes will be carried nationally on BTN with Kevin Kugler and Jim Jackson on the call, as every remaining Husker game in 2012-13 will be televised nationally. The matchup with the Golden Gophers is also available on BTN2GO.
Saturday'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 Huskers (11-11, 2-7 Big Ten) wrap up a busy stretch of 10 games over the last 32 days on Saturday, including five games against ranked foes, before their first bye in conference play.
Nebraska looks to rebound from an 84-65 loss to No. 23 Minnesota on Tuesday night. The Huskers shot 54 percent, its best performance away from the Devaney Center since Feb. 17, 2010, and received a career-high 30-point scoring effort from Ray Gallegos, but allowed Minnesota to also shoot 54 percent and have a 36-19 advantage on the glass.
The loss offset an outstanding performance from Gallegos, whose 30-point effort matched the highest scoring performance in a Big Ten Conference game this season. The junior from Salt Lake City, Utah, went 12-of-17 from the floor and added a career-high six 3-pointers in a losing effort.
Ohio State (16-4, 6-2 Big Ten) brings a three-game winning streak into Saturday's game, as the Buckeyes topped Wisconsin, 58-49, Tuesday evening. In that game, Deshaun Thomas led all scorers with 25 points, and the preseason All-American leads the Big Ten in scoring at 20.3 ppg.
By the Numbers
1998 - The last time a Husker guard had a 30-point game before Ray Gallegos' effort against Minnesota on Tuesday - a 31-point performance by Tyronn Lue against Colorado on Feb. 21, 1998. Prior to Gallegos, the last six 30-point games by a Husker were by Aleks Maric.
55 - Number of 3-pointers by Ray Gallegos, which leads the Big Ten entering the weekend. Entering this year, Gallegos had 21 3-pointers in 55 career games.
1- Nebraska of times Nebraska has lost when shooting above 40 percent this year. Entering the Minnesota game, Nebraska was 10-0 when shooting at least 40 percent from the floor.
2/26/11 - The last time Nebraska shot at least 50 percent from 3-point range and lost, which was an 83-82 overtime loss at Iowa State. NU had won its last five games since then when hitting at least 50 percent from beyond the arc.
Scouting Ohio State
Under Thad Matta, Ohio State comes into Saturday's game with a 16-4 record and a No. 11 national ranking this week. Matta, who served as an assistant to former Nebraska Coach Barry Collier at Butler, is in his ninth season at OSU and has guided the Buckeyes to six NCAA appearances, including an NCAA runner-up finish in 2007 and a Final Four appearance in 2012. The Buckeyes brought back three starters from a team that won 31 games and shared the Big Ten regular-season title last year. OSU has won five of its last six games, including a win over now-No. 1 Michigan in Columbus on Jan. 13. Ohio State is tied for third in the Big Ten with a 6-2 record, one game behind co-leaders Indiana and Michigan. The Buckeyes are coming off a 58-49 win over Wisconsin on Tuesday night, as Deshaun Thomas led all players with 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Aaron Craft had 13 points and seven rebounds, as OSU held the Badgers to 36.5 percent shooting.
As a team, The Buckeyes are fifth in the Big Ten in scoring offense at 72.2 points per game, but have been stout on defense, ranking second in the conference in scoring defense (57.3) and field goal defense (.379).
Ohio State features one of the nation's top players in Thomas, as the first-team preseason All-American leads the Big Ten in scoring at 20.3 ppg and is the only player averaging 20.0 points per game. In Big Ten play, he is up to 21.0 ppg, nearly three points higher than any other player. Lenzelle Smith Jr. joins Thomas in double figures, as he averages 10.0 ppg. The Buckeyes also have two of the nation's top point guards in junior Aaron Craft (9.0 ppg, 4.6 apg, 2.0 spg) and Shannon Scott (5.5 ppg, 4.2 apg, 1.8 spg), as both guards rank among the top five in the Big Ten in both assists and steals.
Nebraska-Ohio State Series History
Ohio State leads the all-time series, 7-2, in a series that dates back to 1936. The Buckeyes have won six straight meetings dating back to 1987, including the first meeting this season on Jan. 2. The Huskers are 1-2 against the Buckeyes in Lincoln, including 1-1 at the Devaney Center.
Nebraska won two of the first three meetings, including a win in the 1985 Sun Bowl Invitational, but OSU swept a home-and-home series and also picked up an 85-74 win in Columbus in the 1989 NIT before winning the first three matchups as Big Ten schools. Including Saturday's game, the Buckeyes have come into the contest ranked in four of the last five meetings, including three times in the top 10.
In the first matchup in Columbus, Deshaun Thomas had 18 of his game-high 22 points in the first half, as the eighth-ranked Buckeyes posted a 70-44 win on Jan. 2. Thomas keyed a pair of first-half runs for the Buckeyes, as Ohio State used a 16-2 run late in the first half to build a 19-point halftime cushion. Ray Gallegos was the only Husker to finish in double figures, finishing with 14 points, as the Huskers shot 30 percent on the night and were out-rebounded 43-32.
Last Time Out
Despite a career-high 30 points from Ray Gallegos, the Nebraska men's basketball team fell to No. 23 Minnesota, 84-65, Tuesday night at Williams Arena.
Gallegos became the first Husker since 2008 to score 30 points in a game, topping his previous high of 22 set at UTEP on Dec. 22, as the junior guard recorded his fourth 20-point game of the season. Gallegos went 12-of-17 from the field, including six 3-pointers to match his career high.
Unfortunately for the Huskers (11-11, 2-7 Big Ten), Minnesota put three players in double figures, led by 23 from Rodney Williams and shot 54.2 percent from the floor, becoming only the second Husker opponent in 2012-13 to shoot above 50 percent. Williams hit 8-of-13 shots from the floor, while the Gophers, who improved to 16-5 and snapped a four-game losing streak, converted 16 offensive rebounds in 20 points.
Both teams shot lights out in the first half, as Minnesota took a 44-35 halftime lead. Nebraska shot 63.6 percent from the field in the first half, as Gallegos had 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Minnesota, which hit 10 of its first 13 shots, shot 55 percent from the floor while also turning seven offensive boards into 10 points.
Williams got Minnesota going early as the senior forward had six of the Gophers first seven points before Gallegos' jumper got the Huskers on the scoreboard. Williams had 12 of his 19 first-half points in the first 8:20, as the Gophers built an early 23-8 lead.
Gallegos keyed the Husker comeback, hitting three 3-pointers as part of a 10-2 run to pull the Huskers within 25-18 with 8:40 left in the half. Minnesota responded moments later with a 5-0 run before another Gallegos 3-pointer ended the run. Nebraska trailed 38-25 before Shavon Shields ran off five straight points, hitting a three-point play and a layup to make it an eight point game. NU cut the lead to seven twice in the final two minutes, the last being on a Gallegos jumper for his 20th point of the half to make it 42-35 before Andre Hollins' bucket with a second left pushed the lead to nine.
In the second half, the Huskers pulled to within 48-40 after a Shavon Shields' 3-pointer with 16:53 left, but Andre Hollins keyed a 10-2 Gopher spurt with six straight points, including a 3-pointer to take a 58-42 lead after Joe Coleman's layup with 12:30 left. Nebraska pulled to within 60-47 after a Ubel 3-pointer with 11:28 left, but could not get any closer, as 3-pointers from Austin Hollins and Joe Coleman stretched the lead back to 16, and NU was unable to cut into the Gophers' advantage the rest of the way.
Brandon Ubel and Shields joined Gallegos in double figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Quick Notes From the Minnesota Game
- Nebraska shot 54.5 percent from the field against the Gophers, its best effort in Big Ten play and the second-best shooting night of the season. NU's season high is 57.1 percent against Central Michigan on Dec. 22.
- Nebraska went 9-of-14 from 3-point range, as its 64.3 percent shooting was the Huskers' second-best shooting night from 3-point range this season (64.7 percent vs. USC on Dec. 3).
- Nebraska lost for the first time when shooting at least 40 percent. Prior to the game, the Huskers were 10-0 when reaching that shooting plateau.
- Minnesota's 84 points were a season high and only the fifth time the Huskers had allowed 70 points in a game this season.
- Ray Gallegos led Nebraska with 30 points, setting a career high for the fifth time this season. His 30 points were the most by any Husker since Aleks Maric in 2008, and the most by a Husker guard since Tyronn Lue in 1998. Gallegos set career bests in field goals (12) and 3-pointers (six) while topping his previous high of 22 set at UTEP on Dec. 23.
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 third in the Big Ten and 16th nationally with 11.1 turnovers per game - two fewer per game than last season - and has committed 10 turnovers or less eight times this season. The Huskers had a school-record two turnovers against Purdue on Jan. 16, breaking the mark of three set on the three previous occasions. In Big Ten action, the Huskers are tied for third in the conference with 10.1 turnovers per game, trailing only Wisconsin, which has led the country in fewest turnovers in recent seasons, and No. 1 Michigan in that category.
Huskers Look to Match 2011-12 Win Total
The Huskers could match their entire 2011-12 win total on Saturday night, as they go for their 12th win of the season. Nebraska went just 12-18 during last season.
The Huskers have done it against a schedule which has been one of the 10 toughest in the country by RealtimeRPI.com. Currently, Nebraska's strength of schedule is eighth nationally and second among Big Ten schools.
In addition, the Huskers will look for their first win of the season against a ranked team. NU is 0-5 on the season against ranked foes following Wednesday's loss to Minnesota. Saturday's game will be Nebraska's second home game against a ranked team this year and first since Dec. 6. Nebraska is 59-226 all-time against ranked teams and has knocked off at least one ranked team in 11 of the past 12 seasons.
Creep, Crawl, Walk, Run
With four new starters from last season and an eight-player rotation which includes only three players who saw action last season, there have been some bumps along the way, as the Huskers install a new offensive system and the headline has been a common mantra of Coach Miles during his first season on the job.
Last year, his Colorado State team led the Mountain West Conference in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and free throw percentage, ranking in the top-10 nationally in both free throw and 3-point percentage. The 2012-13 Huskers come into Saturday's game with Ohio State ranked 10th (.417), 10th (.307) and ninth (.671), in those respective categories. When Nebraska has put up points, they have enjoyed success, going 9-2 when scoring at least 60 points following Wednesday's loss to Minnesota.
One adjustment the Huskers have made recently is going to a bigger lineup and moving senior Dylan Talley to the point guard spot. Over the last five games, Talley and the Huskers have responded well, averaging 13.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while posting a 1.8 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Learning to win the Close Ones
After getting blown out in its Big Ten opener at No. 8 Ohio State, Nebraska has had opportunities in nearly every other Big Ten game. In the next five games after OSU, NU made it a two-possession game in the last seven minutes of each of the last five games, including a chance to tie or take the lead against Wisconsin and at Michigan State.
While NU was not able to pull out wins in the first four games, the Huskers found a way down the stretch against Penn State. In the final seven minutes at Penn State, the Huskers hit 60 percent of their field goals and went 9-for-9 from the foul line to earn a four-point win. Against Illinois, NU trailed by nine with eight minutes left, but did not make a field goal the remainder of the contest. The situation was reversed against Northwestern, as Nebraska held a double-figure lead for the final 9:53 against the Wildcats. At Minnesota, Nebraska was never within 15 points in the final 15 minutes.
Nebraska is 4-0 on the season in games decided by five points or less after going 4-3 in games decided by five points or less last season.
Huskers Look for Balanced Scoring
One of the biggest keys to success for the Huskers has been finding multiple scoring options. Nebraska has three players averaging in double figures on the season, while six players (Brandon Ubel, Dylan Talley, Ray Gallegos, Andre Almeida, David Rivers and Shavon Shields) have all scored at least 20 points at least once this season.
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 9-3 following Wednesday's loss at Minnesota, but are just 2-8 when not putting at least three players in double figures.
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 eighth in the Big Ten in scoring defense, allowing just 62.2 points per game.
- NU has held 17 of its first 22 foes under their 2012-13 scoring averages, while three teams have been held to season lows. Only five teams have scored 70 against the Huskers this season, as Minnesota's 84 points were a season high against the Huskers.
- The Huskers have held 20 of 22 teams to under 50 percent shooting from the field, including nine teams to under 40 percent. Northwestern was held to 32.1 percent on Saturday, the Huskers' best defensive effort of the year.
- Nebraska is sixth in Big Ten games in scoring defense, allowing 64.2 points per game. Nebraska held Wisconsin over 20 points below its season average on Jan. 6, and limited Michigan to 62 points on Jan. 9 after the Wolverines averaged 94.5 points per game in their first two Big Ten games.
Developing Talent; Looking for Depth
While having to replace four starters and seven of the top nine scorers from last year, Tim Miles has had the challenge of putting players in new roles this year. The Huskers had five returning scholarship players in 2012-13, and all five are integral members of NU's rotation.
All five players have seen significant jumps in their averages from their last season of competition and are all enjoying personal bests in both scoring and rebounding. Prior to this season, the Huskers had only one player on the roster with a 20-point game as a Husker (Andre Almeida in 2010-11) and no returning player had averaged more than nine points per game.
One of the problems has been a lack of depth, as Coach Miles signed four players after arriving in late March (the three redshirts and freshman Sergej Vucetic) while NU's other two scholarship freshman (Shavon Shields and Benny Parker) have been mainstays in the rotation. NU's depth will be improved next year, as Miles signed three players in the fall and has two scholarships available for the spring signing period.
A 30-point Milestone
Nebraska junior Ray Gallegos enjoyed the finest offensive performance of his career in the Huskers' loss at Minnesota on Tuesday night.
- His 30-point performance against the Gophers marked the 61st time a Husker had scored 30 points since Feb. 13, 2008, a span of 159 games.
- Gallegos became the 24th player in school history to have a 30-point game at Nebraska. Of the 24 players, only 12 have multiple 30-point games in their Husker career.
- His 30 points tied the Big Ten high for a conference game, set two other times this year. He also set Big Ten highs in conference play in field goals made (12) and 3-pointers (six), setting career bests in both categories.
Shields Erupts Against Penn State
Freshman Shavon Shields enjoyed one of the finest efforts by a Husker freshman with his 29-point effort at Penn State on Jan. 19.
- Shields 29-point effort tied for the second-highest scoring effort by a freshman in school history. Only Tyronn Lue, who had 30 points against Oregon in 1995, had more.
- His 10-of-11 shooting effort against the Nittany Lions is the second-best shooting night by a Big Ten player this season, trailing only David Rivers' 8-of-8 effort at Michigan State on Jan. 13.
- Shields also went 8-of-8 from the foul line, which tied for the second-best effort from the foul line by a Big Ten player this season.
- He also tied for team-high honors with six rebounds and added a career-high three steals while playing 38 minutes before fouling out.
- Shields earned Big Ten Freshman-of-the-Week honorsJan. 23after averaging 23.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game in two 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 entered the season with 59 career starts at Nebraska, while the remaining seven returnees on the roster 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 two games with an elbow injury, the first games he missed since his freshman year, but came back to the lineup against Penn State on Jan. 19, and has put together four straight double-figure games. He had 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting in the loss to No. 23 Minnesota on Tuesday night. Ubel dominated on the interior against Northwestern with 14 points and 12 rebounds, including seven on the offensive glass.
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 16 of the 20 games he has played. Entering the season, he had one double-double, but already has four this season for the Huskers (21 points & 12 rebounds vs. Southern, 17 points & 13 rebounds vs. Kent State, 15 points & 10 rebounds vs. Jacksonville State and 14 points and 12 rebounds vs. Northwestern). He is third in the Big Ten in double-doubles entering Saturday's game with Ohio State.
Ubel nearly had another double-double 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 also had a team-high 10 rebounds at No. 2 Michigan on Jan. 9, 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 list at 80.7 percent. Last year, Ubel shot 82.5 percent from the foul line. Ubel is shooting 90 percent (39-of-43) from the foul line dating back to Dec. 15.
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 Saturday's game with Ohio State averaging 13.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. He is 16th in the league in scoring and third in minutes played with 35.5 per game.
Talley has been in double figures in 16 contests and has topped the Huskers in scoring nine times this season, including 16 points against Illinois on Jan. 22 and 20 points in Saturday's win over Northwestern. In that game, Talley hit 8-of-15 shots and also grabbed eight rebounds to help the Huskers pick up their first home win since Dec. 29. It was Talley's fourth 20-point effort of the season after not having one all of 2011-12. He was held to six points and four rebounds in Tuesday's loss to Minnesota.
He put on a display against Kent State on Nov. 24, scoring a career-high 27 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out three assists. Talley also had 22 points against Nebraska-Omaha on Nov. 18 and 21 points, including a career-best six 3-pointers, against Central Michigan on Dec. 22.
Talley's role has changed in recent games, serving as one of the Huskers' primary point guards and helping to run the offense. Over the last five games, he is averaging 12.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game while posting a 1.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
He handled much of the point guard duties at No. 2 Michigan as Benny Parker battled foul trouble, and finished with 12 points and a then-career-high five assists. Talley started at point guard against No. 22 Michigan State on Jan. 13 and had 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 38 minutes. Against Purdue on Jan. 16, he had just six points, but led the Huskers in rebounds (eight), steals (four) and assists (three). He dished out a season-high six assists and added eight points and four rebounds in the win at Penn State on Jan. 19.
In his first season at Nebraska, Talley tied for the Big Ten lead in scoring by a reserve, averaging 8.9 points per game, as he was in double figures 11 times. Talley has been a prolific scorer throughout his collegiate career, earning America East Conference Rookie-of-the-Year honors in 2009-10, averaging 11.8 points per game at Binghamton University. At Blinn (Texas) College, he was sixth nationally in scoring at 23.0 points per game.
Gallegos Provides Ray of Light for Offense
One 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, leads the Huskers in scoring at 13.5 ppg and tops all Big Ten players with 55 3-pointers. He has been in double figures 16 times this season after accomplishing the feat just three times in his first two years at Nebraska.
Gallegos has led the Huskers in scoring four times in conference play, highlighted by a 30-point effort at Minnesota on Jan. 29. In that game, he tied or set career bests in 3-pointers (six) and field goals (12) while becoming the first Husker since 2008 to have a 30-point game. His previous Big Ten high was a 19-point night at No. 2 Michigan on Jan. 9, which highlighted a seven-game stretch where he was in double figures. Against Northwestern, Gallegos had 11 second-half points, including a trio of 3-pointers in an 11-2 run to put the game away.
Earlier this season, Gallegos put on a show in El Paso, as he earned a spot on the Sun Bowl Invitational All-Tournament team. He averaged 20.5 ppg, including a career-high 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting in Nebraska's loss to UTEP. In the semifinals against Central Michigan, he scored 11 of Nebraska's first 16 points to help the Huskers get out to an early lead and finished with 19 points.
Gallegos put together the best two-game stretch of his career, posting consecutive 20-point efforts at Wake Forest and USC, a stretch where he shot 56 percent from 3-point range. Against USC on Dec. 3, Gallegos had a career-high six 3-pointers and scored the Huskers' final 11 points of the first half to break open a tie game. At Wake Forest on Nov. 27, he finished with a career-high 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting, as he made his first seven shots of the second half and totaled 17 of his 20 points after halftime.
Gallegos, who never played more than 27 minutes in any game during his first two seasons, leads the Big Ten and is eighth nationally with 37.1 minutes per game. He played every minute of the Huskers' first five Big Ten games and saw his streak of consecutive minutes end at 218:39 when he exited the game midway through the first half at Penn State on Jan. 19.
His minutes per game are the most since Dave Hoppen averaged 38.5 minutes per game in 1984-85. In the last 25 years, Charles Richardson Jr. is the only Husker to average more than 35 minutes per game for a full season when he averaged 36.3 minutes per game in 2006-07.
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.
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 7.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game while averaging 26.2 minutes per game. In Big Ten play, he has continued to make strides, raising his scoring and rebounding numbers from his non-conference totals, averaging 9.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per outing. He is challenging to be the first Husker freshman since the 2005-06 season to average double figures in conference games. Shields posted his third double-figure outing in the last five with 10 points at Minnesota on Tuesday night.
Shields set career highs in both of the Huskers' games two weeks ago, highlighted by a 29-point effort at Penn State on Jan. 19. Shields hit 10-of-11 shots from the field and went 8-of-8 from the line in posting the highest scoring effort by a Husker this year. He also had team bests in both rebounds (six) and steals (three). On Jan. 16 against Purdue, Shields became the first Husker freshmen to lead the team in scoring in three seasons with 18 points and eight rebounds. Shields was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Jan. 21, the first time since 2009 that a Husker freshman was honored by the league.
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.
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 5.7 points and 3.1 rebounds per game while playing in all 22 contests. He has been at his best in the last 11 games, reaching double figures for the first three times of his career, as he averages 7.1 points per game on 53 percent shooting dating back to Dec. 22, despite being held scoreless at Minnesota on Tuesday evening.
He made his first career start at No. 22 Michigan State on Jan. 13, leading the Huskers with 18 points on a perfect 8-of-8 shooting from the field. His eight field goals without a miss was one off Nebraska's single-game record, and he also chipped in six rebounds while playing all 40 minutes. Rivers broke out of a mini slump with eight points and four rebounds on Saturday against Northwestern.
Rivers put on a show in Nebraska's win over Central Michigan on Dec. 22, scoring a career-high 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting and matching his personal best with seven rebounds. His effort against CMU matched his entire season output as a freshman. 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 have started for the Huskers this season, Benny Parker became only the 10th freshman to start a season opener since 1995. Parker averages 2.9 points, 2.5 assists and 1.5 rebounds per game. Parker has a 1.5 assist-to-turnover ratio and has committed one turnover or less in 10 of NU's first 22 games. The Kansas City, Kan., native has shown his toughness during the season, overcoming foot and knee injuries without missing any playing time. He originally suffered the knee sprain in practice on Dec. 10, but played 27 minutes in the Huskers' loss at Oregon five days later.
Parker has provided a spark for the Huskers' second unit since coming off the bench on Jan. 13. He dished out a team-high six assists and grabbed three rebounds in 30 minutes of work against Minnesota on Tuesday night. Parker made a major contribution in NU's win at Penn State, as he played exceptional defense with two steals and also had two assists in 18 minutes of work. Against Northwestern, Parker had three points, three steals and three assists, while helping the Huskers outscore Northwestern by 22 points when he was on the court.
Parker had a career-high seven assists and had one turnover in Nebraska's 61-57 win over Tulane on Nov. 21, and totaled eight points, four assists and a career-high four steals at Wake Forest on Nov. 27. Against UNO on Nov. 18, he had eight points - all coming in the second half - after sitting most of the first half because of foul trouble. Parker also had seven points, three rebounds and three assists in a two-point win over Valparaiso on Nov. 15.
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.
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 5.7 points on 51 percent shooting, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.
He has been slowed by injuries at times in Big Ten play, missing two whole games and a half of another over the last month. The injury bug began against Ohio State in the Big Ten opener when he sprained his ankle. His best effort since his return to action was eight points and four rebounds against Purdue on Jan. 19.
Earlier this season, he put together the best game of his career at Wake Forest on Nov. 27, when he had 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting and a career-high 11 rebounds to earn Big Ten Player-of-the-Week honors. His effort at Wake Forest marked the first time since 2009 that a Big Ten player had 20 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 90 percent from the field.
Almeida put together a dominant effort against UNO on Nov. 18, when he had 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting, and seven rebounds. Against Tulane on Nov. 21, the 6-foot-11 center keyed Nebraska's second-half effort with 10 points, six rebounds and four blocks, as he scored nine of his 10 points in the second half. Almeida had eight points and three blocked shots against USC and added six points, five rebounds and a season-high four blocked shots in the loss to Creighton.
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.
Huskers Have Relied on Walk-Ons This Season
With only eight recruited scholarship players, Nebraska has relied on its walk-ons to play crucial roles this season.
Mike Peltz saw action in 14 of NU's first 16 games as the first guard off the bench, averaging 2.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.1 points per game in over 15 minutes of action per contest before being sidelined with a knee injury. 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.
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.
In recent games, Jordan Tyrance has become an important part of the rotation following injuries to Peltz and Brandon Ubel. After playing just 13 minutes in Nebraska's first 16 contests, Tyrance has averaged 10.8 minutes per game over the last five contests.
The 6-foot-4 guard has given the Huskers solid efforts off the bench, including career highs of 10 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes against Purdue on Jan. 16. He had four points, a pair of rebounds and a steal against Illinois on Jan. 22 and played 12 minutes at No. 22 Michigan State on Jan. 13, totaling two blocked shots and two assists.
Trevor Menke is the third Husker who has played a significant role, as he has appeared in 11 games as a backup point guard. Menke was put on scholarship for the season and has five asssists in 56 minutes of work.
- Nebraska is 4-1 when it shoots above 50 percent from the field, but has struggled in its 10 losses, being held under 40 percent in 10 of its 11 losses.
- The Huskers have held 20 of 22 opponents under 50 percent shooting this year, as Kent State and Minnesota are the only foes to shoot better than 50 percent. The Huskers have also held nine opponents to under 40 percent shooting.
- Balance has been key for the Huskers, as Nebraska is 9-3 when three players reach double figures and just 2-8 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. It was also NU's highest total in a road or neutral site since scoring 89 in a 101-89 loss at TCU on March 15, 1999.
- Husker coach Tim Miles became just the sixth coach in the 117-year history of Nebraska basketball to win his first four games. In fact, only two Husker basketball coaches had won their first four games since 1920.
- Earlier this season, Miles becomes the first Nebraska Head Coach to win his first road game at Nebraska since Paul Schlisser in 1919-20, a 47-9 win over Hastings College on Jan. 13, 1920. Prior to Miles' win, the previous 14 Nebraska basketball head coaches had lost their first road game as Husker head coach.
- Nebraska's 16-point victory at Wake Forest was its largest road margin since a 77-60 win at Minnesota on Nov. 29, 2003, and the seventh-largest win over the past quarter century.
- Nebraska's win over Wake Forest marked the first time the Demon Deacons had lost at home in seven ACC/Big Ten Challenge games and was just their third loss in the series history.
- Nebraska'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.