Game Date: Dec. 21, 2013
Tipoff Time: 7:35 p.m. (CT)
Venue: Pinnacle Bank Arena
2013-14 Record: 7-3, 0-0 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 22-21 (2nd year)
Career Record: 305-241 (19th year)
The Citadel Bulldogs
2013-14 Record: 4-8, 0-0 Southern
Head Coach: Chuck Driesell
Record at The Citadel: 28-76 (4th year)
Career Record: 116-148 (8th year)
Huskers on TV/Radio/Internet
Online: Big Ten Digital Network (subscription required)
Video.btn.com (Featuring IMG HSRN Audio)
Radio: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network, including KLIN (1400 AM/94.5 FM) in Lincoln, KFAB (1110 AM) in Omaha and KRVN (880 AM) in Lexington.
Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka
Expert Analysis: Matt Davison
Internet Radio/Stats: Free on Huskers.com
Satellite Radio: Sirius Ch. 92, XM Ch. 190
By the Numbers
.909 - Nebraska’s home winning percentage in non-conference play over the last five seasons. The Huskers will look for their first unbeaten home non-conference slate since 2010-11 with a win on Saturday.
8 - Home winning streak for the Huskers dating back to the final two games of the 2012-13 season. This season, NU has outscored its foes by double-digits in five of six games.
8 - Number of Huskers with double-digit scoring efforts this season, including a team-high nine from sophomore Terran Petteway. Last year, Nebraska had only seven players reach double figures in a game.
15 - Number of steals by the Huskers in Saturday’s win over Arkansas State. It was the most by a Nebraska team since recording 16 against San Jose State on Nov. 16, 2008. It also ties for the highest total by a Big Ten team this season (also Ohio State vs American on Nov. 20).
Huskers Host the Citadel Saturday Night
The Nebraska basketball team makes its final home appearance of 2013, as the Huskers play host to The Citadel this Saturday, Dec. 21.
Tipoff is set for 7:35 p.m. for the Huskers and Bulldogs and the game will also be carried across the state on the 27-station Husker Sports Network with Kent Pavelka and Matt Davison calling all of the action, including flagship stations KLIN (1400 AM/94.5 FM) in Lincoln and KFAB (1110 AM) in Omaha (complete list of affiliates is on page five of the game notes). The game can also be heard for free on Huskers.com and is available on the Huskers’ app on iOS or android devices, as well as Sirius and XM Radio.
Live video of Saturday’s game will also be available online on the Big Ten Digital Network (subscription required). For Saturday’s game, the broadcast will use the Husker Sports Network audio simulcast. To access the live video feed, visit video.btn.com.
A limited number of tickets are available for Saturday’s game in the 100, 200 and 300 Levels with prices ranging from $7 to $25. Visit Huskers.com or call 800-8-BIGRED for more information. The additional 100 Level tickets are available since Saturday’s game is one of the two winter break games on the 2013-14 schedule.
Saturday’s men’s game caps a busy day at Pinnacle Bank Arena with fall commencement ceremonies in the morning before the Husker women take on South Dakota at 2:30 p.m.
The Huskers are 7-3 on the season and have won four of its last five games dating back to Nov. 24. Nebraska comes off one of its best offensive efforts of the season in a 79-67 win over Arkansas State last Saturday. In that game, the Huskers delivered the knockout punch early, as a 15-0 run highlighted a 50-point first half to help the Huskers build a 23-point halftime lead. Nebraska led by as many as 28 points in the second half before coasting to the 12-point win. Sophomore Shavon Shields led four Huskers in double figures with 15 points, while Nebraska dished out a season-high 19 assists - the most in Tim Miles’ two seasons at Nebraska. Nebraska also received a strong performance from sophomore Walter Pitchford, who had 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
The Citadel is 4-8 on the season following a 79-68 win over Brevard College on Wednesday evening. The Bulldogs are not afraid to push the tempo, averaging 72.7 points per game and have scored 80 or more points three times during non-conference action.
Following Saturday night’s game, the Huskers will have a few days off before reconvening on Christmas night to begin preparations for the Dec. 28 game at Cincinnati. The game with the Bearcats begins a three-game road trip for the Big Red.
Scouting the Citadel
The Citadel is 4-8 on the season following a 79-68 victory over Brevard College on Wednesday night. The Bulldogs, who will play just three games between Dec. 7 and Jan. 1, returned four starters and eight letterwinners from a team that went 8-22 and 5-13 in the Southern Conference a year ago.
The Bulldogs are coached by Chuck Driesell, who is in his fourth season as the coach of the Bulldogs. He comes from one of the legendary college basketball families, as his father Charles ‘Lefty’ Driesell won over 700 games in the college ranks. Chuck Driesell played at Maryland for his dad and also served as an assistant coach at Maryland, Georgetown and James Madison.
The Bulldogs returned to action from a 11-day break, downing Brevard College, 79-68. In that game, Marshall Harris III had 22 points to place three Bulldogs in double figures. Matt Van Scyoc had 21 points and seven rebounds, while Brian White added 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. The Citadel out-rebounded Brevard, 35-25, and converted 31-of-33 from the foul line. The Huskers will be the third BCS-level opponent the Bulldogs have faced following losses at Tennessee and Wake Forest in November.
The Bulldogs rely on a nine-man rotation that has four players averaging at least 8.7 points per game. The Citadel is averaging 72.7 points per game, but is allowing opponents to score 75.6 points per contest. White, a 6-foot-6 forward, averages 15.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game and is shooting 58 percent from the floor and 83 percent from the line. Sophomore Matt Van Scyoc, a 6-foot-6 guard/forward is averaging a team-high 15.1 points per game. He has a team-high 23 3-pointers and is shooting 90 percent from the foul line. The Bulldogs have only two players taller than 6-foot-7, freshmen Tom Koopman and Nate Bowser.
Series History vs. The Citadel
Nebraska leads the all-time series, 3-0, but Saturday’s meeting will be the first matchup between the two programs in 20 years. The teams met for three straight years from 1990 until 1992 with Nebraska winning all three games by double figures. NU is 2-0 all-time against The Citadel in Lincoln. The Huskers are 9-3 all-time against the current members of the Southern Conference.
Last time Out
Shavon Shields’ 15 points led four Huskers in double figures, as Nebraska took control early for a 79-67 win over Arkansas State on Dec. 14.
Nebraska, which improved to 7-3 on the season, put its best 20 minutes of the season together in building a 50-27 halftime lead. The Huskers shot 53 percent from the field, including 5-of-10 from 3-point range, before halftime while holding Arkansas State (5-3) to 38 percent in the half.
Nebraska got off to a blistering start, using a 15-0 run to build an early lead behind the play of Pitchford and Ray Gallegos, who combined for 11 of NU’s first 15 points. Pitchford opened the run with two long jumpers before a pair of Gallegos 3-pointers pushed the margin to 13 just 3:40 into the contest.
Pitchford finished with his first career double-double, totaling 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Gallegos had 13 points and a career high four assists, as Nebraska totaled a season-high 19 assists on 29 baskets.
Arkansas State responded by cutting Nebraska’s lead to 17-9 after a Kirk Van Slyke basket, but Nebraska responded with another 8-0 to build a 25-9 lead just 9:39 minutes the contest. The Huskers led by as many as 24 points in the first half en route to scoring 50 first-half points for the first time since 2008.
In the second half, the Red Wolves opened the half with a 7-2 run to get within 52-35 after a Van Slyke jumper to force a Nebraska timeout, but Shields and the Huskers regrouped. The sophomore forward scored seven of his 16 points in an 11-0 run to extend the lead to 28, at 63-35, with 14:42 remaining.
Arkansas State fought back, cutting the 28-point deficit to 11 in the final two minutes, but the outcome was never in doubt.
Dec. 28 Time Change
ESPN, the University of Cincinnati and the University of Nebraska on Dec. 12 that the start time of Nebraska’s men’s basketball game at Cincinnati on Saturday, Dec. 28, has been moved up to 11 a.m. (central). The game, which will be televised nationally on ESPN2, was originally scheduled for 3 p.m. (central), but was moved to an earlier start because of the Bearcats’ appearance in the Belk Bowl that afternoon. Cincinnati and North Carolina were scheduled to play in the Belk Bowl at 2:20 p.m. (central) that afternoon on ESPN.
The Dec. 28 matchup is the first of a home-and-home series with Cincinnati, as the Bearcats will visit Pinnacle Bank Arena next season.
Quick Look at Nebraska
As second-year coach Tim Miles continues his rebuilding process at Nebraska, the Huskers’ roster is starting to take shape. Only two of the 12 players on scholarship have been at NU longer than two seasons (Ray Gallegos and David Rivers), while Gallegos is the only scholarship senior on the 2013-14 roster.
Miles, who was given a seven-year contract when he was hired in 2012, led the Huskers to a 15-18 record last year, as 14 of NU’s 18 losses came against NCAA Tournament teams despite having only eight recruited scholarship players available. Nebraska played one of the nation’s toughest schedules in 2012-13, facing 10 ranked teams while the strength of schedule was 13th nationally. The Huskers finished 10th in the Big Ten in 2012-13 after being picked to finish last by 23 of the 24 beat writers in the league.
This season, Nebraska is again picked 12th in the preseason poll of writers with a roster which is 293rd (of 351 teams) in experience according to KenPom.com. Six of NU’s 10 primary rotation players are in their first year of competition at Nebraska, although three of the newcomers (Pitchford-Florida; Smith-SMU; Petteway-Texas Tech) have previous Division I experience. Nebraska’s three losses on the season have come against teams which are a combined 25-4 heading into Thursday’s action.
Finding Offensive Pace
Despite having six new faces in Nebraska’s primary 10-man rotation, the Huskers have been a much more prolific offensive team in 2013-14. The Huskers are averaging 14 points more per game than at this point last year, including a season-high 90 points against UMass on Nov. 21 - NU’s highest single-game total since the 2009-10 season.
•-Nebraska’s team scoring average of 73.0 points per game marks only the fourth time since 2000 that Nebraska has averaged more than 70 points per game through the first nine contests and the first time since 2006-07.
•-Nebraska’s average after 10 games is the highest since the 2005-06 squad averaged 74.0 points per game in its opening stretch.
•-Nebraska has scored 80 or more points in consecutive games against South Carolina State and UMass, the first time that has happened since January of 2009 (vs. Maryland Eastern Shore and Florida A&M).
•-Nebraska has had eight of its 10 regulars reach double figures at least once in the first 10 games. NU had two games with five players in double figures and three other games where four players scored double figures.
•-Nebraska has already scored 75 or more points four times after just reaching that plateau twice in 33 games last season, as the Huskers were 12th in the Big Ten in scoring offense, averaging 58.3 points per game.
•-According to KenPom.com, Nebraska ranks 53rd in free throw percentage rate this season after ranking 331st nationally in the category in 2012-13. Two of Miles’ final three Colorado State teams ranked in the top 40 in that category.
Setting a Benchmark
As the Huskers have looked at different lineup combinations, one consistent thing during the first month of the season has been improved bench play.
Nebraska is averaging 25.7 points per game from its bench entering Saturday’s game with the Citadel, with Deverell Biggs and Leslee Smith providing much of the punch off the bench.
Biggs is third on the team in scoring at 9.8 ppg while averaging 18.4 minutes per outing. He is shooting 40 percent from the floor and 46 percent from 3-point range, and is fourth among all Big Ten bench players in scoring average. Biggs had one of his best efforts of the season against Northern Illinois on Nov. 30, scoring a game-high 18 points and grabbing four rebounds. In Saturday’s win over Arkansas State, Biggs had eight points and a career-high six assists in just 14 minutes of work.
The unsung hero of the Huskers’ bench has been junior college transfer Leslee Smith, who gives the Huskers a physical player off the bench. He is averaging 8.2 points per game while shooting 50.8 percent from the field and pulling down a team-high 6.5 rebounds per game to rank 12th in the league. He is second among all Big Ten reserves in rebounding.
•-Last year, Nebraska Ray Gallegos and Dylan Talley both ranked among the top five in the Big Ten in minutes per game. This year, no Husker is averaging more than 30 minutes per game, while 10 Huskers average at least 14 minutes per game with the addition of Nathan Hawkins to the rotation the past two contests.
•-Against Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 8, sophomore Benny Parker had a career-high nine points and two steals in 27 minutes. He single-handedly sparked the Huskers in a 10-0 second half run with seven points and both steals.
•-In NU’s win over Western Illinois on Nov. 12, Smith had 10 points, five rebounds and a pair of steals in 20 minutes. Smith scored six of his points in a 23-7 first-half run, turning a one-point lead into a 17-point advantage.
•-Against South Carolina State, Nebraska’s bench combined for 51 of the 83 points, making the fifth time in the last decade NU has received at least 50 points from its bench.
•-In the loss against UMass, forwards Leslee Smith and David Rivers stepped up, as the duo combined for 22 points and 13 rebounds. Smith recorded his first double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds and three blocked shots, while Rivers added 10 points, three rebounds and a career-best four steals.
•-Against UAB, Biggs led the bench with 11 points in 17 minutes, while Gallegos, who was not expected to play after suffering a knee injury against UMass, added nine points, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range.
•-In the win over Georgia, freshman Tai Webster added 14 points, including 13 in the second half, and three assists while Gallegos added 11 points, including three 3-pointers. Smith led NU with 11 boards and chipped in eight points, as the Husker bench combined for 38 points against the Bulldogs.
•-Against Northern Illinois, Deverell Biggs came off the bench to score a season-high 18 points and grab four rebounds, while Leslee Smith had 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting and nine rebounds.
•-Leslee Smith carried the Husker bench in the win over Miami with seven points and a game-high 10 rebounds in the 60-49 win.
•-Against Arkansas State, the Husker bench out-scored Arkansas State, 28-14, as Deverell Biggs had eight points and a season-high six assists, while Leslee Smith, Nathan Hawkins and Benny Parker had at least six points each.
Record-Breaking Season Ticket Sales
The move to Pinnacle Bank Arena has been a boon to Nebraska basketball, as the Husker program has shattered season-ticket records. On May 3, all of the season tickets allotted for 2013-14 had been accounted for, as season-ticket sales were up nearly 95 percent from 2012-13.
In addition, all 1,650 seats in the Nebraska student section - including all 1,000 lower-bowl seats - had been purchased for the 2013-14 season. The previous school record for season ticket sales was 12,000 set in 1992-93. Nebraska is averaging 15,171 fans per game in 2013-14, including the four largest crowds in school history.
The Huskers have rewarded the fans during non-conference play, going 6-0 at home and out-scoring foes by 15.5 points per game. Five of Nebraska’s wins have been by double figures. With a win on Saturday over the Citadel, the Huskers will finish non-conference play with an unbeaten record for the first time in its three-year tenure in the Big Ten Conference.
The Son Also Rises
Nebraska sophomore Shavon Shields is on his way to creating an impressive resume in his own right. While his father, Will, is one of the greatest linemen in college and NFL history, the younger Shields is carving out his own impressive career on the court.
As a freshman, Shavon overcame an early season elbow injury and averaged 8.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in 29 games. Shields was one of the few freshmen whose numbers improved during Big Ten play in 2012-13, as he upped his scoring and rebounding averages to 9.2 and 6.0 to rank among the Big Ten freshmen leaders. During the Huskers’ Big Ten Tournament run, the 6-foot-7, 219-pounder became one of the Huskers’ go-to players, averaging 16.5 points on 61 percent shooting in games against Purdue and Ohio State.
One of three captains this season, Shields picked up right where he left off and comes into this weekend averaging 13.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. He is 20th in the Big Ten in scoring and is first or second on the Husker squad in scoring, rebounding and assists.
Shields has topped Nebraska in scoring the past two games, averaging 18.5 ppg on 57 percent shooting in that stretch. Shields led NU with 15 points and added three steals in the win over Arkansas State last Saturday. He had one of his best games of the year in the loss at Creighton on Dec. 8, scoring a team-high 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting. It marked his second 20-point game of the year and first since the season opener. Shields enjoyed his best game of the year against Sweet 16 qualifier Florida Gulf Coast, scoring a game-high 28 points - one off his career high - on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and a perfect 12-of-12 from the line. The 6-foot-7 forward also led NU in rebounds (six) and assists (three) en route to earning Big Ten Player of the Week and the Lute Olson Award National Player of the Week. Shields’ 28-point night marked the most points by a Husker in a season opener since 2006.
How Shavon spent His Summer
Shavon Shields spent part of the summer with the Denmark U-20 National Team, leading the country to the 2013 Nordic Cup Championship. He averaged 13.3 points per game in wins over Sweden, Finland and Estonia, capping the tournament with a 17-point, 12-rebound effort in a 101-94 double overtime win over Estonia. Shields had nine points in the opener against Sweden and 14 points in the victory over host Finland.
Transfers Make Immediate Impact for Big Red
While the Huskers were short-handed last year with just eight recruited scholarship players available for action, Nebraska knew that help was on the way in the form of transfers Walter Pitchford, Terran Petteway and Deverell Biggs. The trio led a scout team which regularly pushed the Husker starters in practice and set the stage for the 2013-14 season.
Pitchford, who played 13 games at Florida in helping the Gators to the Elite Eight in 2011-12, gives the Huskers an athletic big man with extended shooting range. The 6-foot-10 center is averaging 9.0 points per game on 50 percent shooting, including 15-of-34 shooting from 3-point range. Pitchford, who also is averaging 4.9 rebounds per game, is sixth in the conference in 3-point percentage. He comes off his best game of the year against Arkansas State, posting 12 points and a career-best 10 rebounds for his first double-double. Pitchford led NU with 14 points in the win over Western Illinois on Nov. 12, including eight straight points in a first-half run. At the Charleston Classic, he posted consecutive double-figure efforts with 10 points and six rebounds against UAB and 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the win over Georgia. Pitchford was a force on the defensive end, blocking three shots and pulling down eight rebounds in limiting Northern Illinois to 36.7 percent shooting on Nov. 30. Against Miami, Pitchford had 13 points and five rebounds in NU’s 60-49 win.
Petteway, who began his career at Texas Tech, has been one of the Huskers’ most valuable performers. He is eighth in the Big Ten in scoring at 15.8 ppg and is fourth in rebounding at 4.7 rebounds per game. He led NU at the Charleston Classic last month, averaging 22 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Against UMass on Nov. 21, Petteway topped the Huskers with 30 points, as he became the 25th player in school history to have a 30-point game. Petteway had 17 points in the opener against Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 8, and nearly had a double-double in NU’s win over Western Illinois on Nov. 12, with 13 points and nine rebounds. Petteway led NU in scoring for the fourth time in five games with 14 points - all coming in the second half - and three blocked shots against Miami on Dec. 4 and added 21 points and five rebounds in the loss to Creighton on Dec. 8
Biggs made his Husker debut in the win over South Carolina State, scoring 17 points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing out a pair of assists in 23 minutes off the bench. He has come off the bench, averaging 9.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Biggs had a game-high 18 points on 5-of-9 shooting in NU’s win over Northern Illinois on Nov. 30, including four free throws in the final eight seconds to clinch the win. He led NU in rebounding against Creighton with six in 18 minutes off the bench on Dec. 8 and topped the Huskers with six assists and added eight points in 14 minutes in last Saturday’s win over Arkansas State. Biggs earned first-team NJCAA All-America honors at Seward Community College in 2011-12.
Petteway Puts Up 30 vs. UMass
Nebraska sophomore Terran Petteway enjoyed the finest offensive performance of his career in the Huskers’ loss against UMass on Nov. 21. Petteway hit 8-of-20 shots from the floor, including a trio of 3-pointers, and converted 11 of 12 shots from the foul line, scoring 30 points in 29 minutes of work.
Petteway became the 25th player in school history to have a 30-point game at Nebraska. Of the 25 players, only 12 have multiple 30-point games in their Husker career. He joins Ray Gallegos, who had a 30-point effort last season at Minnesota, as active Huskers with career 30-point games.
Value the Basketball
Under Tim Miles, one major emphasis is taking care of the basketball, and the Huskers were among the nation’s best in that category in 2012-13. Nebraska finished 10th nationally with 10.7 turnovers per game - nearly three fewer than 2011-12. NU’s turnovers per game were the fewest in school history, bettering the 11.30 per game in 1984-85. Nebraska committed 10 turnovers or less 15 times in 2012-13, including a school-record two turnovers against Purdue on Jan. 16.
This season, the Huskers have been among the national leaders in that category, ranking 24th nationally with 10.1 turnovers per game. The Huskers have only reached double figures in turnovers four times in 10 games. Nebraska also ranks second in the Big Ten in turnover margin at +4.1 per contest. The Huskers are third in the Big Ten in turnovers forced (14.3) and are second in the conference with 8.3 steals per game.
Webster Makes a Point, Plays the Point
Tai Webster has found a home in the Huskers’ backcourt, averaging 7.0 points, 2.7 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game entering Saturday’s game with The Citadel Webster has been a much better distributor in recent games, setting or tying career highs in assists in each of the last five games, including five assists in each of the last three contests (Miami, Creighton, Arkansas State). He has a 1.9-to-1 assist-to-turnover rate in that stretch, compared to a 0.7-to-1 ratio in the first five games of the season.
The 6-foot-4 freshman enjoyed the best game of his career on Nov. 24 against Georgia, scoring 14 points and dishing out three assists in NU’s 73-65 win. Webster scored 13 of his points in the second half and went 7-of-9 from the foul line. It was his second double-figure effort of the Charleston Classic, as he totaled 12 points and two assists in NU’s loss to UMass.
With his start against Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 8, Webster became just the ninth true freshman to start a season opener in the last 18 years. Webster totaled nine points, two rebounds and an assist in helping the Huskers to a 79-55 win. He reached double figures for the first time in his young career against South Carolina State on Nov. 17, totaling 13 points, four rebounds and two assists.
Although he is a freshman, Webster was considered one of the top international guards in this year’s senior class. He played for New Zealand’s national team in qualifying for the 2012 Olympics, averaging 13.5 points per game in 52.5 percent shooting in three games. He also played in New Zealand’s National Basketball League, averaging 18.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game last spring despite being the youngest player in the league. Webster is among the five Big Ten freshmen to watch by ESPN’s Paul Biancardi, joining Indiana’s Noah Vonleh, Illinois’ Kendrick Nunn, Michigan’s Zak Irvin and Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes.