Nebraska looks to get on track offensively after averaging just 40 points per game in consecutive losses to No. 16 Creighton and Oregon, a pair of teams which are a combined 19-2 on the season. Nebraska is shooting 31.4 percent in that stretch, including 21 percent from 3-point range. One highlight for the Huskers has been the expanded role for Shavon Shields, who played in one of the Huskers' first six games. The 6-foot-6 freshman has posted career highs in points and minutes in each of the last two games, including seven points and two rebounds in 30 minutes at Oregon on Saturday.
While Nebraska's offense has struggled in recent games, the Huskers' defense has been solid, holding both Creighton and Oregon to nearly 20 points below their season averages. Nebraska has now held five of its nine foes to season-low point totals.
The Huskers will face a Jacksonville State squad which is 8-2 on the season and riding a five-game win streak. The Gamecocks allow just 59.5 points per game and are coming off a 66-59 OT win sat Presbyterian on Saturday night.
By the Numbers
39.1/19.2 - One of the biggest factors in the Huskers' early-season success has been the Huskers' shooting from long distance. In Nebraska's six wins, the Huskers are averaging 6.0 3-pointers per game and shooting 39.1 percent from beyond the arc. In the three losses, NU is averaging 3.3 3-pointers per game and shooting 19.2 percent from long distance. NU was just 3-of-17 from 3-point range in Saturday's loss at Oregon.
0- Blocked shots for the Huskers as a team against Oregon, marking the first time this season and the second time in the last 25 games dating back to last year where Nebraska did not have a blocked shot. Andre Almeida, who came into the game averaging a Big Ten high 2.1 blocks per game, was in foul trouble at Oregon and played a season-low 10 minutes.
60 - Nebraska has held five of its nine opponents to under 60 points this year, and the Huskers are now 4-1 when holding opponents to 60 points or less.
Scouting Jacksonville State
Jacksonville State comes to Lincoln Tuesday night with an 8-2 record and riding a five-game win streak. The Gamecocks, who returned four starters from a team that went 18-15 last year, have played well for fifth-year coach James Green, going 5-0 in games decided by 10 points or less. JSU's 8-2 start is their best-ever start since moving to the Division I ranks 15 years ago, and they lead the Ohio Valley Conference in defense, allowing just 59.5 points per game. The only two losses on the season were road games at UNLV and Oregon.
The Gamecocks feature four players who average double figures, including sophomore guard Darion Rackley, who averages 13.3 ppoints per game and is shooting 42 percent from 3-point range. Senior forward Tarvion Games averages 12.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per contest, while senior guard Ronnie Boggs (11.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and junior guard Brian William (10.5 ppg, 3.6 apg) provide balance. JSU is holding teams to just 41 percent shooting, including 25 percent from 3-point range.
Tuesday's matchup is the Huskers' first-ever meeting with Jacksonville State and only the 12th game against a current OVC program. Nebraska is 9-2 in its previous 11 matchups.
Last Time Out
Nebraska could not overcome a cold-shooting effort from the floor, as the the Huskers were held to 30.2 percent shooting in a 60-38 loss to Oregon. The Huskers, who fell to 6-3 on the season, held Oregon to its season-low scoring total and nearly 20 points below its season average, but could not get anything going offensive early in either half to drop their second straight game.
Senior Dylan Talley led Nebraska with 11 points, but was the only Husker to finish in double figures on the night. NU guard Ray Gallegos had nine points on 4-of-12 shooting, while freshman Shavon Shields came off the bench to score seven points and grab a pair of rebounds in a losing effort.
Tony Woods led Oregon with 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting to pace three Ducks in double figures. E.J. Singler added 13 points, while Arsalan Kazemi added 10 points and a game-high 17 rebounds, the most rebounds against a Husker team since 2009. Oregon outscored NU 40-12 in the paint and forced the Huskers into a season-high 16 turnovers.
Nebraska fell behind quickly, as the Ducks used runs of 7-2 and 6-0 to build an 18-6 lead in the first 10 minutes. Behind the scoring of Talley and Gallegos, who had seven points each in the half, the Huskers started to chip away, as a Gallegos 3-pointer and a jumper by Talley cut the Oregon lead to 18-11. The Ducks came right back with another 6-0 spurt to take its largest lead of half at 24-11 after an Dominic Artis basket with 6:34 left in the half. The Huskers' defense then toughened up, as NU held Oregon without a field goal the remainder for the half and closed the half with a 7-4 run, pulling to within 27-18 after a Gallegos dunk.
Nebraska had a chance to cut into the lead in the opening minutes of the second half, but the Huskers started the half by missing their first seven field goal attempts - several from point blank range - and 10 of its first 12 from the field, as the Ducks extended their margin to 39-23 after a Damyean Dodson jumper.
The Huskers continued to chip away, using a 7-2 spurt to climb back into the game, as a Mike Peltz 3-pointer made it 41-30, the closest the Huskers had been since early in the second half. Nebraska was within 42-30 before Singler's 3-pointer from the wing, the first made 3-pointer in 12 attempts - staked the Ducks a 15-point lead, and Oregon remained in control down the stretch.
Worth Noting from the Oregon Game
- Nebraska set season lows in points (38), field goal percentage (.306), 3-pointers made (3) and rebounds (25) in Saturday's loss to the Ducks.
- Nebraska's 38 points is its lowest output since scoring 34 at Michigan State last season.
- Nebraska held Oregon to a season-low 60 points, nearly 20 points below the Ducks' Pac-12 leading average of 79.5 ppg. Oregon's previous season low was 67 points against Jacksonville State on Nov. 19. It marks only the second time this season that Oregon has been held under 70 points.
- Oregon marks the third straight opponent that Nebraska has held to a season low in points.
- Nebraska's nine steals were a season high, topping the team's best of seven at Wake Forest on Nov. 27.
- Ray Gallegos played a career-high 40 minutes in the loss, the most by a Husker this season, and added a career best three steals.
- Shavon Shields came off the bench to score a career-high seven points, while playing a career high 30 minutes.
- Peltz and Shields help Nebraska outscore the Oregon bench, 11-6, marking the second time this season Nebraska's bench has outscored its opposition this season and the first since the Tulane game on Nov. 21.
- Nebraska committed a season-high 16 turnovers, leading to 14 Oregon points.
- Brandon Ubel was held to a season-low five points, but led Nebraska in both rebounds (five), assists (three) and steals (three), as he set a personal best in steals and went over 400 career rebounds in the loss.
Creep, Crawl, Walk, Run
With four new starters from last season and an eight-player rotation which includes only two players who saw the court last season, it has taken some time to implement 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 Tuesday's game against Jacksonville State ranked ninth, 10th and 10th, in those respective categories.
Nebraska's offensive struggles in the last two games has forced the Huskers to shoot jumpers, as NU's two interior post players, Brandon Ubel and Andre Almeida, have taken a combined 26 field goal attempts in the last two outings. NU has also gotten to the foul line just 13 times in that stretch after averaging 20.3 attempts in its three-game win streak.
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 sixth in the Big Ten in scoring defense, allowing just 59.3 points per game. NU has held eight of its first nine foes under their 2012-13 average, while five teams have been held to season lows. NU has held its last three opponents (USC, Creighton, Oregon) to season-low point totals.
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 12.6 points and 6.8 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, already has a pair of double-doubles in 2012-13, a 21-point, 12-rebound effort against Southern on Nov. 11, and a 17-point, 13-rebound outing in the loss to Kent State on Nov. 24. Ubel's 13 rebounds against the Golden Flashes were the third-highest total in the Big Ten this season.
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 seven of the the Huskers' first nine contests despite averaging less than 10 attempts per contest. He is 11th in the Big Ten in field goal percentage, shooting at 56.4 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.He was held in check at Oregon, totaling five points on 1-of-6 shooting, but found ways to help, leading NU in assists, steals and rebounds in the loss to the Ducks.
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 eighth on Nebraska's career free throw percentage, as he went over 200 career free throw attempts on Nov. 24 against Kent State. Last year, Ubel shot 82.5 percent from the foul line.
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 Tuesday's contest averaging a team-high 14.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. He is 10th in the league in scoring and 18th in rebounding while tying for first in the Big Ten in minutes played.
Talley, who has been in double figures in eight of Nebraska's first nine 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, as Nebraska suffered its first loss. He has topped NU in scoring five times, 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. He totaled 11 points, five rebounds and a pair of assists in 38 minutes at Oregon on Saturday.
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.
Return of the Redshirts
While Nebraska had six returning letterwinners back from the 2011-12 team, it is a pair of returning redshirts who have taken the slack from a lineup which lost four starters from last year. Senior center Andre Almeida and junior guard Ray Gallegos have played major roles early on.
Almeida missed all of last season following a knee injury after playing 30 games in 2010-11, but has been healthy and playing solid basketball early on. He is averaging 8.0 points on 60 percent shooting, 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, leading the Big Ten in blocked shots and ranking sixth in field goal percentage.
After a slow offensive start, Almeida is playing some of the best basketball of his career, averaging 9.4 points on an eye-popping 73 percent shooting, 4.9 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots per game over the Huskers' last seven games, despite being held scoreless and without a blocked shot for the first time all season at Oregon.
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. He played just 15 minutes against USC because of foul trouble, but had eight points and three blocked shots in holding USC to a season-low 51 points. Almeida began the stretch 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.
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.
While Almeida used his redshirt year to recover from injury, Gallegos worked on improving his shooting and all-around game and the changes have been evident early on in 2012-13.
Gallegos, who averaged 2.6 points per game in 2010-11, has been one of the most improved players in the Big Ten this season. He is third on the team in scoring at 12.4 points per game, leading the Big Ten with 2.8 3-pointers per game. He is shooting 37 percent from 3-point range and has been in double figures six times after accomplishing the feat just three times in his first two years at Nebraska.
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 has established career bests on three occasions in NU's first nine games, as he 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.
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.
When Andre Almeida and Ray Gallegos enjoyed 20-point efforts against Wake Forest on Nov. 27, it marked the first time since March 5, 2007, that the Huskers had multiple players with 20-point nights. In that game, Marcus Perry (25); Aleks Maric (23) and Paul Velander (20) all eclipsed the 20-point mark.
With a short bench, the Huskers have relied on their starters often through the early part of the season. Dylan Talley and Ray Gallegos rank second and fourth, respectively, in the Big Ten in minutes per game whle 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 5.0 points on 47 percent shooting and 2.8 assists per game. Parker has a 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio and has had one turnover or less in five of the Huskers' first nine contests. The Kansas City, Kan., native has shown his toughness in recent games, battling through foot and knee sprains over the last two weeks without missing a game. Parker played 27 minutes at Oregon after suffering the knee injury on Monday and had just two turnovers against a pressing Oregon defense.
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 4.0 points and 3.2 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. Rivers has been a consistent scorer off the bench, totaling at least five points in five of the Huskers' eight games, including four straight before the streak was snapped against Creighton on Dec. 6.
Rivers played a major role at Wake Forest with five points, a career-best seven rebounds and two assists in the win at Wake Forest and had five points and four rebounds in 23 minutes against USC. Rivers had seven points and five rebounds against Valparaiso and established personal bests in minutes (27), rebounds (six) and assists (three) in the opener against Southern.
He played just four minutes against Oregon, as he turned an ankle and did not return. His status for Tuesday's game has not been determined.
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 schedule where NU has played just three times since Nov. 28, has helped Shields return to 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 20.0 minutes per game over the Huskers' last three game, averaging 4.7 points per game. He has set personal bests in both minutes and points in each of the last two contests, including seven points in 30 minutes against Oregon on Saturday. 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 five games before averaging 8.3 points per game in the last three games.
Peltz Fills Several Roles
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.
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 nine games, playing nearly 17 minutes per contest and averaging 2.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 0.9 points per game. He comes off one of his best games 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.
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 five games, including each of the past two contests.