Game 15: Wisconsin
Game Date: Jan. 6, 2013
Tipoff Time: 3:36 p.m.
Venue: Devaney Center
2012-13 Record: 9-5, 0-1 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 9-5 (1st year)
Career Record: 292-225 (18th year)
2012-13 Record: 10-4, 1-0 Big Ten
Head coach: Bo Ryan
Record at Wisconsin: 278-105 (12th year)
Career Record: 661-208 (29th 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: Justin Kutcher
Color: Tim Doyle
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, XM Ch. 190
- Huskers will wear specially made Red Out jerseys by adidas.
- Alexandria Aces Basketball Peformance Team at halftime.
Huskers Host Wisconsin Sunday Afternoon
The Nebraska men's basketball team begins the home portion of the Big Ten slate Sunday afternoon, as the Huskers take on Wisconsin at the Devaney Center.
Tipoff is set for 3:36 p.m. and tickets are on sale for Sunday's contest by visiting Huskers.com, calling the Nebraska Ticket Office at 800-8-BIGRED or at the Devaney Center Ticket office beginning at 2 p.m. Tickets for Sunday's game against the Badgers start at $10.
Sunday'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 Badgers will be televised nationally on BTN with Justin Kutcher and Tim Doyle, as every remaining Husker game in 2012-13 will be televised nationally. Sunday's game with the Badgers is also available on BTN2GO.
The Huskers (9-5, 0-1 B1G) look to bounce back from a disappointing loss in the Big Ten opener at eighth-ranked Ohio State on Wednesday night. Nebraska shot just 30.4 percent while Ohio State closed the half on a 16-2 surge to take control. Of the eight Huskers who played Wednesday at Ohio State, five were making their Big Ten debut.
Junior Ray Gallegos led Nebraska with 14 points, including four 3-pointers and ranks third in the Big Ten with 2.6 3-pointers per game. Gallegos has hit at least a trio of 3-pointers six times in 2012-13 after doing it just once in his first two seasons of action. To win on Sunday, the Huskers will need a more balanced attack. Gallegos was the only Husker to reach double figures Wednesday night, as the Buckeyes held Brandon Ubel (six points and six rebounds) and Dylan Talley (nine points and four rebounds) in check. When NU gets three or more players in double figures, NU is 7-0, but just 2-5 when that does not occur.
Wisconsin (10-4) will test the Huskers on the defensive end, as the Badgers lead the Big Ten in scoring defense (55.9 ppg) and held Penn State to just 51 in Thursday's win in Madison. Senior Jared Berggren averages 13.4 points per game on 57 percent shooting from the floor.
By the Numbers
2 - Number of points Brandon Ubel needs to break into the top 60 of Nebraska's career points list. Ubel, who is averaging a career-high 12.6 ppg this season, has 713 career points following his six-point game against Ohio State on Wednesday. Leroy Chalk (1969-71) currently holds the No. 60 spot with 715 points.
6.8 - Rebounds per game for Shavon Shields over the last four games. Shields has posted career bests in three of the past four games, including nine rebounds in Wednesday's loss at Ohio State
47.8 - Shooting percentage in Nebraka's nine wins this season. Conversely, the Huskers are just hitting 33.8 percent in their five losses.
15 - Number of 3-point attempts by Ray Gallegos on Wednesday, setting a school record. He broke the mark of 14 by Marcus Perry in 2007.
Under Coach Bo Ryan, Wisconsin has been one of the Big Ten's best programs over the past decade. Ryan, who is in his 12th season in Madison, has guided the Badgers to 11 NCAA Tournaments, including five appearances in the NCAA Sweet 16 in his tenure.
The Badgers have won five Big Ten titles and come off a Sweet 16 appearance in 2011-12. The Badgers brought back four starters and 12 letterwinners from a team that won 26 games in 2011-12, but lost a key cog before the season as point guard Josh Gasser tore his ACL and will miss the season. Gasser who started at shooting guard last year was replacing Jordan Taylor, who was one of the Big Ten's top point guards the previous two seasons.
Wisconsin comes to town with a 10-4 mark and has won six of its last seven games since falling to Virginia in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Nov. 28. UW has been solid at home, losing only once, but is winless in two road games, falling at Florida, 74-56, and at Marquette, 60-50, on Dec. 8. The Badgers opened Big Ten play Thursday night with a 60-51 win over Penn State.
Wisconsin's strength is on the defensive end, where the Badgers are second in the Big Ten in scoring defense at 55.9 points per game. Wisconsin has held its last eight opponents to 60 points or less. The Badgers rarely turn the ball over, averaging a league-low 8.9 turnovers per game, and lead the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio.
Wisconsin returned one of the Big Ten's best big men in senior Jared Berggren, who leads the Badgers with 13.4 points per game and grabs 6.4 rebounds per game. Senior Ryan Evans chips in 11.6 points and a team-high 7.5 rebounds per game, while Ben Brust adds 11.9 points and 6.6 rebounds an outing. Brust leads all Big Ten players with four double-doubles heading this weekend's action.
Sunday's matchup is the 19th meeting between the two programs, but the first since Nov. 22, 1998. Nebraska leads the all-time series, 10-8, but the Badgers won both meetings in 2011-12.
The series dates back to the 1903-04 season , as Nebraska won the first meeting, 55-25 over the Badgers in Lincoln before Wisconsin took five of the next six meetings from 1907 to 1955. Nebraska then won eight straight games before Wisconsin snapped the streak with a 78-41 win at the 1999 Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska. Nebraska is 2-1 against the Badgers at the Devaney Center, with Wisconsin picking up its first win at the Devaney Center last December.
Nebraska whittled an 11-point deficit against Wisconsin to two in the second half, but the Huskers were unable to complete the comeback, falling 50-45 against the Badgers at the Kohl Center.
Nebraska trailed 36-25 midway through the second half, but rallied behind the shooting of Bo Spencer and Dylan Talley, as Nebraska fought back to make it a one-possession game down the stretch.
Jordan Taylor led Wisconsin with 19 points, including 11-of-15 shooting from the foul line, while Josh Gasser added 12, including eight in the first half as Wisconsin built a 24-21 halftime lead.
Spencer led Nebraska with 13 points while Talley scored all nine of his points in the second half in the losing effort.
Last Time Out
Deshaun Thomas had 18 of his game-high 22 points in the first half, as the eighth-ranked Ohio State topped Nebraska, 70-44, Wednesday evening. Thomas, a consensus first-team preseason All-American, keyed a pair of first-half runs for the Buckeyes, as Ohio State (11-2, 1-0 Big Ten) 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 (9-5, 0-1 Big Ten) shot 30 percent on the night and were out-rebounded 43-32. Dylan Talley was held to nine points, while David Rivers came off the bench for nine points in a losing effort.
The Huskers could not get untracked in the first half, shooting 25 percent from the field, as the Buckeyes surged at the end of the half to take a 36-17 lead. Thomas led the Buckeyes with 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting in the half, while Lenzelle Smith Jr. added eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, before intermission on his way to a 17-point night on 5-of-7 from 3-point range.
The Huskers took an early 3-2 lead on a Dylan Talley 3-pointer, but the Buckeyes ran off nine straight points, including seven by Thomas, to take an 11-3 lead. Talley ended the drought with a basket before a Brandon Ubel driving basket pulled Nebraska within 11-7. OSU eventually pushed the lead back to 11 points, at 18-7, but Gallegos keyed an 8-2 surge for the Huskers, as his second 3-pointer made it a 20-15 game with 6:44 left in the half.
That would be as close as Nebraska got, as the Buckeyes closed the half on a 16-2 run to take a 19-point halftime lead. Thomas had seven points in the run, but the key play was a Smith 3-pointer after Ohio State got an offensive rebound after a pair of missed Buckeye free throws.
Quick Notes From the Ohio State Game
- The Huskers fell to 0-2 this season against ranked teams.
- The Huskers have lost the last six matchups against Ohio State, including all three in Big Ten play.
- Nebraska shot a season-low 30.4 percent against Ohio State, including 25 percent from the floor in the first half. The Huskers were also held under 50 points for the third time this season.
- Nebraska is just 2-5 when less than three players reach double figures. Ray Gallegos was the only Husker to crack double figures with 14 points.
- Nebraska has held its last nine opponents under 50 percent shooting, as the Buckeyes shot 49 percent. Kent State is the only NU opponent to shoot over 50 percent this year.
- Ray Gallegos' 15 3-pointers were a school record, breaking the previous mark of 14 by Marcus Perry on March 3, 2007 at Colorado.
- David Rivers scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds in 23 minutes. Rivers did not score in a Big Ten game last season (nine games, 55 minutes).
- Shavon Shields led all players with a career high nine rebounds (previous high was 7 against both Central Michigan and UTEP). It is the third time in the last four games he has grabbed at least seven rebounds.
- Freshman Sergej Vucetic scored the first four points of his Husker career in the second half.
Huskers to Wear Red Out Jersey on Sunday
Nebraska will don specially created Red Out uniforms by adidas for Sunday's Big Ten home opener against Wisconsin. Similar to the adidas jerseys worn by NBA teams on Christmas day, the Huskers' uniforms on Sunday will feature a monochromatic color scheme with solid color team logos, names, and numbers framed with minimal accent color and a shimmer finish for a bold statement.
For the Huskers' jersey, it is a red jersey top and shorts with red lettering and numbers along with a white accent to outline the team's name and jersey numbers. Wisconsin will wear white on Sunday in its White Out uniform. The two teams will wear identical uniforms for the rematch in Madison on Feb. 26.
Sunday's jersey is one of two alternative home jerseys the Huskers will wear this season, as Nebraska will also wear throwbacks to the 1976-77 season for Legends Weekend against Michigan State on Saturday, Feb. 16.
Learning to win the Close Ones
The Huskers have been tested early in 2012-13, posting a 9-5 mark entering Sunday's game. The Huskers have found ways to win the close ones, going 3-0 in games decided by five points or less, including the four-point win over Jacksonville State on Dec. 18. Last year, NU won just four of seven games decided by five points or less.
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 12.5 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 7-0, but just 2-5 when less than three players reach double digits. On Wednesday, the Huskers had just one player in double figures at Ohio State.
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 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 Big Ten opener ranked ninth, ninth and eighth, 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 is 11th in free throw attempts, but the Huskers have been better in recent games. Since the losses to Creighton and Oregon, Nebraska has averaged nearly 24 free throws per game over the last four contests.
Husker Defense Starts Strong
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 61.5 points per game. NU has held 11 of its first 14 foes under their 2012-13 scoring averages, while three teams have been held to season lows, including Creighton and Oregon, which both rank among the top-25 nationally in scoring offense.
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 the scoring slack in the early going, averaging 16.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, as he ranks among the Big Ten leaders in both categories.
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 weekend ranked second in the Big Ten in double-doubles.
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 11 of the Huskers' first 13 contests despite averaging less than nine attempts per contest. He is 14th in the Big Ten in field goal percentage, shooting at 54.3 percent.
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 11 points in 18 minutes in the win over Wake Forest. Against USC, he was held to nine points, but grabbed seven rebounds, dished out four assists and limited USC's Dewayne Dedmon to just two points. Ubel nearly had his third double-double of the season against Creighton, finishing with 10 points and eight rebounds. Ubel finished in double figures in both games at the Sun Bowl Invitational, including a 14-point effort on 6-of-8 shooting from the field against Central Michigan. Against Nicholls State, Ubel had 18 points, and went 10-of-11 from the foul line to help the Huskers wrap up non-conference play with a win. He was held in check in Wednesday's loss, totaling six points and six rebounds in the setback at No. 8 Ohio 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 over Nebraska's last six contests.
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.
Talley Takes Offensive Role
Senior Dylan Talley came into the 2012-13 season as the Huskers' most proven scorer and has shown versatility early in the season. The 6-foot-5 senior enters Sunday's game at Ohio State averaging a team-high 13.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. He is 13th in the league in scoring and third in minutes played with 34.9 per game.
Talley, who has been in double figures in 11 of Nebraska's first 14 contests, put on a display against Kent State on Nov. 24, scoring a career-high 27 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out three assists. He has topped NU in scoring six times in 2012-13, including a then-NU best 22 points against Nebraska-Omaha on Nov. 18. He also paced the Big Red with 17 points and seven assists in a 61-57 win over Tulane on Nov. 21 and had 14 points and seven rebounds in the win at Wake Forest. Talley also finished with 14 points in the win over USC on Dec. 3 and against No. 16 Creighton on Dec. 6. Talley had 10 points and four rebounds against Jacksonville State, including a pair of free throws to preserve the four-point win. Talley led NU with 21 points, including a career-high six 3-pointers, against Central Michigan. Against Nicholls State, he was one of four Huskers in double figures with 12 points and four rebounds and had nine points in Wednesday's loss at Ohio State.
His biggest contribution this year may have come in the only game he was held out of double figures. Against Valparaiso, Talley scored one point, but topped NU in rebounds (six) and assists (four) while holding reigning Horizon League Player of the Year Ryan Broekhoff to just 2-of-11 shooting in NU's 50-48 win.
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 the Huskers' most improved player in 2012-13.
Gallegos, who averaged 2.6 points per game in 2010-11, is second on the team in scoring at 13.1 points per game and ranks third in the Big Ten with 2.6 3-pointers per game. He is shooting 33 percent from 3-point range and has been in double figures 10 times after accomplishing the feat just three times in his first two years at Nebraska.
Among Big Ten players, only Brandon Paul of Illinois (six) and Deshaun Thomas of Ohio State (six) have had more 20-point nights than Gallegos this season.
Gallegos is averaging 16.4 points per game over the Huskers' last three games, following his game-high 14 points at No. 8 Ohio State. Two weeks ago, 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 stretch of his career earlier this season, posting consecutive 20-point efforts against Wake Forest and USC, a stretch where he shot 56 percent from 3-point range. Against USC, 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 had 16 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, in the opener against Southern. His shooting also keyed NU's win over Valparaiso on Nov. 15, as he finished with 14 points, including four 3-pointers. He was held to just five points against Creighton and had nine points and three steals in the loss at Oregon. He took just seven shots against Jacksonville State and finished with six points, but dished out three assists, had two steals and four rebounds in 39 minutes.
As a sophomore, he 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.
Husker Health Watch
The Huskers could be without a pair of contributors for Sunday's game against Wisconsin. Senior center Andre Almeida suffered an ankle sprain in the first half of Wednesday's loss to Ohio State, and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game. NU was without junior guard Mike Peltz at Ohio State, as he is battling tendonitis. He is listed as doubtful for the Huskers' game with Wisconsin.
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.
Andre Provides Giant Inside Presence
While Gallegos' return helped shore up the Huskers' outside attack, the return of senior Andre Almeida following a knee injury has helped the Huskers on the interior. The 6-foot-11 senior has been steady, averaging 7.1 points on 57 percent shooting, 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game, ranking eighth in field goal percentage and 10th in blocked shots. Almeida played just six minutes at Ohio State before spraining his ankle.
He put together the best game of his career at Wake Forest, 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 on Dec. 3. It 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 matched his then-career best with seven rebounds. Against Tulane, the 6-foot-11 center keyed Nebraska's second half effort against Tulane on Nov. 21 with 10 points, six rebounds and four blocks, scoring 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. Almeida had eight points and five rebounds in Nebraska's loss to UTEP. He made the most of his opportunities against Nicholls State with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting and six rebounds.
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 third-ranked Texas. Almeida was a force on the defensive end, ranking sixth in the Big 12 in blocked shots.
Home Sweet Home
Nebraska has been strong on its home court since the Bob Devaney Center opened in 1976. Nebraska has a 443-143 (.756) record in 37 seasons. Nebraska has enjoyed 36 consecutive winning seasons in the building, as the Huskers are celebrating their final season in the Devaney Center in 2012-13. The Huskers are 7-2 at the Devaney Center in 2012-13 and have been solid defensively, holding six of its nine foes to under 60 points this season.
With a short bench, the Huskers have relied on their starters often through the early part 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 averaging over 31 minutes per night. Over the last 14 years, only one player - Charles Richardson Jr. in 2006-07 - has averaged more minutes than 32.5 minutes per game, while NU has two players on track this season to eclipse that mark.
Parker Makes A Point
The lone freshman in the Husker starting lineup, Benny Parker became only the 10th freshman to start a season opener since 1995. Parker has been steady early on, averaging 3.9 points and 2.9 assists per game. Parker has a 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio and has had one turnover or less six times in NU's first 14 games.
The Kansas City, Kan., native has shown his toughness in recent games, battling through foot and knee sprains over the last month without missing any action. Parker played 27 minutes at Oregon after suffering the knee injury on Dec. 10. Parker had four points and four assists in 28 minutes against Nicholls State on Saturday, but was held scoreless at Ohio State on Wednesday.
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 in October. Sophomore Trevor Menke is the Huskers' other primary point guard, as junior college transfer Deverell Biggs is redshirting this 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 early on, as he has averaged 5.5 points and 3.6 rebounds per game as the Huskers' sixth man in 2012-13. He has already eclipsed his entire freshman year totals nearly every category, including points, rebounds and blocked shots. The Little Rock, Ark., product has been playing some of the best basketball of his career, averaging 9.8 points on 62 percent shooting and 4.8 rebounds per game over Nebraska's last four games.
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. On Saturday, Rivers cracked double figures for the second time in three games, totaling 12 points, six rebounds and a pair of steals in 28 minutes against Nicholls State. He came off the bench to add seven points and four rebounds in Wednesday's loss at No. 8 Ohio State.
Shields Returns to Add Depth
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 to the Husker bench.
After playing once in NU's first six games, Shields has averaged 22.4 minutes per game over the Huskers' last eight games, averaging 5.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Shields had tied or set career bests in either points or rebounds six times in the last seven games, including a personal-best nine rebounds at No. 8 Ohio State on Wednesday. At 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. At Oregon on Dec. 15, Shields had seven points and logged a career-high 30 minutes. In the loss to No. 16 Creighton, Shields had five points in 20 minutes, while he had two points and two assists in 10 minutes against USC on Dec. 3.
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.
Shields also provides the Huskers with another scoring option, as NU was getting just 5.5 points per game from the bench in its first six games before averaging 13.6 points per game in the last eight games.
Walk-On Peltz is Huskers Jack of All Trades
While the Nebraska football program is nationally known for its walk-on program, Nebraska basketball has a walk-on of its own playing a significant role in junior Mike Peltz. The 6-foot-2 guard from Alliance, Neb., joined the team in October days before the start of practice and has been a valuable contributor. Peltz missed the Ohio State game and is doubtful for Sunday's game with a knee injury.
A two-year starter at Western Nebraska Community College, Peltz has backed up Benny Parker at the point guard spot, but has also seen time at guard and forward, depending on the matchup. He has played in all 13 games, playing nearly 16 minutes per contest and averaging 2.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.2 points per game.
He 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.
Two other former walk-ons have been in the Huskers' rotation at times this season in sophomores Trevor Menke and Jordan Tyrance. Menke came to Nebraska as a walk-on, but was put on scholarship for this season for his efforts in the classroom and on the practice court. Menke, who played seven minutes as a redshirt freshman, played a career-high 16 minutes in Nebraska's season opener and has averaged 7.7 minutes per game in six contests. Tyrance has played in seven games off the bench for the Big Red.
- Nebraska is a perfect 4-0 when it shoots above 50 percent from the field, but has struggled in its five losses, being held under 40 percent in each setback.
- The Huskers have held 13 of 14 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 five opponents to under 40 percent shooting.
- Balance has been key for the Huskers, as Nebraska is 7-0 when three players reach double figures and just 2-5 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 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. 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.