Huskers Start Tough Road Stretch at No. 2 Kansas

By NU Athletic Communications
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

|+| Game Information

Game: Game 17                                   

Game Date: Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008

Game Time: 12:47 p.m. CST                  

Release Date: Thursday, Jan. 24, 2008

Television: ESPN Plus (Fred White, play-by-play; Reid Gettys, color)

Radio: Husker Sports Network (Kent Pavelka, play-by-play; Matt Davison, color)

Internet: Huskers.com (live radio, stats)

Satellite Radio: Kansas broadcast on Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 114

Venue: Allen Fieldhouse (16,300)

 

|+| Huskers Start Tough Road Stretch at No. 2 Kansas

After playing two of its first three league contests at home, the Nebraska men's basketball team starts a tough road stretch on Saturday, Jan. 26, when the Huskers take on the undefeated No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks at Allen Fieldhouse. It will be the first of four games in a 12-day span – including contests on the road at KU, Missouri and Kansas State.

The Huskers and Jayhawks will tip off at 12:47 p.m. this weekend in a contest that will be seen on ESPN Plus (Channel 8 KLKN in Lincoln; Channel 15 KXVO in Omaha; KIIT in North Platte). Fred White will call the action while Reid Gettys adds color analysis.

Other stations around the country scheduled to carry the game as part of the Big 12 package include: YES Network in New York City; KTXA in Dallas-Ft. Worth; KNWS in Houston; Altitude in Denver; WRBU in St. Louis; KMCI in Kansas City; KOCB in Oklahoma City; KNVA in Austin; KWBF in Little Rock; KJRH in Tulsa; KSAS in Wichita; WOI in Des Moines; KWBM in Springfield, Mo.; WDKA in Paducah, Ky.; KFXA in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; KWTX in Waco, Texas; KFDF in Ft. Smith, Ark.; KFXK in Tyler, Texas; KQEG in LaCrosse, Wis.; KSNT in Topeka; KMIZ in Columbia, Mo.; KFJX in Joplin, Mo.; KJTV in Lubbock, Texas; KXLT in Rochester, Minn.; KIDZ in Abilene, Texas; and Spencer Utilities and Cable One in Sioux City, Iowa.

The contest between Nebraska and Kansas can also be heard on the radio as the Husker Sports Network, consisting of 30 stations around Nebraska and Iowa that provide coverage of Nebraska athletic events. Veteran play-by-play man Kent Pavelka will call the action while former Husker Matt Davison adds color commentary. The broadcast will be carried around the world live on the Internet on Huskers.com.

NU men's basketball games can typically also be heard on satellite radio. This weekend, however, only the Jayhawks' broadcast will be heard Saturday on Sirius Satellite Radio on channel 114.

Nebraska enters the contest looking to get in the win column for the first time in league action. After dropping a tough opener against KU two weeks ago, the Huskers fell by four points on the road at Colorado and then suffered a two-point setback against upstart Baylor last weekend. Nebraska fell to 1-3 on the season in games decided by 10 or fewer points with the loss to the Bears. 

Despite being the only Big 12 team without a win, the Huskers have continued to play hard and are still making strides in second-year coach Doc Sadler's system. Nebraska plays a regular rotation of nine players with at least 12 minutes per game. Of those nine, four are new to the program this year while three others are only second-year sophomores.

While the defense has been strong all year, Sadler has been looking for ways to get the offense jump-started in conference play. Last weekend, the Huskers received a boost with the play of junior college transfer Steve Harley, who posted a career-high 15 points against the Bears.

Nebraska will need to keep Harley going and hopes to see the same form by freshman point guard Cookie Miller and sophomore guard Ryan Anderson.

Miller has been at his best away from Lincoln as he is averaging 14.3 points per game in three road games this season, including posting 18 points at Colorado in his first career Big 12 road game, compared to just 3.8 points per game at the Devaney Center. He is second on the squad in scoring in league play at 9.7 points per game, trailing only preseason all-conference center Aleks Maric's 18.0 ppg. Miller has only four turnovers in a team-high 32.3 minutes per game against Big 12 competition. In his last five games, Miller has 24 assists and just five turnovers.

Anderson is averaging 8.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in league action and is the Huskers' most dangerous 3-point threat. A Seattle native and former teammate of KU's Rodrick Stewart, Anderson has been at his best against the top competition as he has averaged 16 points per game against ranked teams in his career (six games, 2-4 record). 

 

|+| Holding at 80

Nebraska has allowed just two teams to top the 80-point plateau in the Coach Doc Sadler era, with both games coming last season on the road at Hawaii (81) and Kansas (92). NU has gone 22 games without allowing a team to reach the 80-point plateau.

Much of Nebraska's success this season has come as a result of a pesky defense that ranked fourth nationally in scoring defense entering the week (56.3 ppg) and a field-goal percentage defense that was sixth nationally (36.9 percent).

The Huskers' mark of 22 straight games without allowing a team to score 80 points is the second-longest active streak in the Big 12. Kansas holds the active mark at 23 straight games heading into this weekend's contest with Nebraska.

Last year, the Jayhawks recorded the second-largest margin of victory over the Huskers in history with a 92-39 win at Allen Fieldhouse. That was the last time NU has allowed a team to score 80 or more points. This season, only four teams in the first 16 contests have scored at least 70 points on the Huskers, including an opponent season-high 79 by Kansas in the first meeting.

 

|+| Undefeated Foes

The Huskers will have their hands full when they face Kansas this weekend as the Jayhawks enter the contest with a perfect 19-0 record and No. 2 national ranking.

This weekend's contest will mark the fourth time in the Big 12 era and second meeting this year that Nebraska is facing an undefeated conference squad.

The last time NU faced an undefeated conference squad on the road, the Huskers also traveled to Lawrence to take on a 14-0 Kansas squad in Allen Fieldhouse in 2005. The Huskers dropped a 59-57 thriller to No. 2 KU when Corey Simms' 3-pointer at the buzzer rimmed out. NU also faced an undefeated KU squad (22-0) in Lawrence in 1996-97 and lost to the No. 1 Jayhawks in overtime, 82-77. In each of those instances, KU lost its next contest – and first game of the year – after defeating the Huskers.

Overall, Nebraska has faced eight undefeated conference squads during the Big Eight/Big 12 era (since 1958-59). The Huskers are 3-5 in those games, snapping the win streaks of Oklahoma State in 1992 and 1998 and Missouri in 1982.

  

|+| Leader of the Pack

Preseason all-conference center Aleks Maric is the unquestioned leader of the Nebraska Cornhuskers and is one of the top centers in the nation. The senior from Sydney, Australia, led Nebraska to 17 wins last season under first-year coach Doc Sadler while earning second-team all-conference honors. This year, Maric has helped NU to an 11-5 start including a victory over then-No. 16 Oregon.

More honors await in 2008 as he has again been one of the top players in the Big 12 Conference. Maric and freshman Michael Beasley of Kansas State are the only players in the Big 12 Conference ranked among the league's top six in scoring (Maric, 6th; 16.6 ppg), rebounding (4th; 8.2 rpg) and field-goal percentage (3rd; 57.7) entering this weekend's action.

Along with his powerful offensive game, Maric has improved defensively as well. He leads the league in blocked shots (2.0 bpg) and is on pace for a career high in steals. He ranks second on the squad with 19 steals and needs eight more to set a new personal season high.

Maric is the active career leader in the Big 12 for rebounds (811), double-doubles (25) and double-figure rebound games (29). No other active player in the league has even 20 double-doubles or double-figure rebounding games. He ranks second all-time at Nebraska in career rebounds and is 11th in scoring.

 

Nebraska Career Scoring Chart

No.       Name (Years)                            Career Points

1.         Dave Hoppen (1983-86)                           2,167

2.         Eric Piatkowski (1991-94)                       1,934

3.         Jerry Fort (1973-76)                                1,882   

4.         Andre Smith (1978-81)                            1,717

5.         Jaron Boone (1993-96)                            1,609

6.         Erick Strickland (1993-96)                       1,586

7.         Tyronn Lue (1996-98)                              1,577

8.         Cookie Belcher (1997-2001)                    1,552

9.         Rich King (1988-91)                                1,475   

10.        Venson Hamilton (1996-99)                     1,416

11.        Aleks Maric (2005-pres.)             1,376

 

|+| Chairman of the Boards

Senior center Aleks Maric is the top returning rebounder in the Big 12 Conference after posting 8.7 rebounds per contest last season, including 9.4 boards per game against league foes. The active career leader in the Big 12 Conference, Maric set his career high with 19 rebounds against Missouri at home last year, bettering his previous mark of 17 at KSU as a sophomore.

With 252 rebounds last season, Maric moved into ninth place on the Husker rebounds chart. This season, Maric has already had a game with 16 rebounds (against Alabama A&M) – his fifth career game with at least 15 rebounds – and with eight rebounds against Maryland Eastern Shore, he took over sole possession of second place on the Husker career chart.

 

|+| Doubling Down Low

Center Aleks Maric established himself as a dual threat in the post from his first career game when he recorded 12 points and 14 rebounds in the season opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in 2004. Maric went on to record three double-doubles as a freshman and had 10 as a sophomore. Each of the marks in his first two years tied the NU class record.

Maric added 10 double-doubles last season and now has 25 in his career, a total that is tied for second in Nebraska history. He needs three more double-doubles to move into the Big 12 Conference career top 10.

Maric added his first double-double of the 2007-08 campaign with a workmanlike 21 points and 16 rebounds against Alabama A&M and posted 17 points and 13 rebounds at Western Kentucky. Four times this season he has just missed a double-double with nine rebounds.

 

|+| Huskers vs. Ranked Teams

Nebraska has defeated a ranked team for eight straight years since 2000-01, including holding a 1-1 mark against ranked squads in 2007-08 (def. No. 16 Oregon; lost to No. 3 KU). In fact, Nebraska has won two games against ranked teams in two of the past four seasons.

The Huskers are 5-6 in their last 11 games against ranked opponents since defeating No. 4 Oklahoma State in Lincoln in 2005. NU is 1-5 against top-10 ranked teams in that span. The win over Oklahoma State was NU's first victory over a top-10 squad since beating No. 7 Iowa State in overtime in Ames during the 1996-97 campaign.

The win against OSU in 2005 was the Huskers' first against a top-five team since the 1994 Big Eight Tournament, when the Huskers knocked off No. 3 Missouri. The last time NU had defeated a top-five team at home was 1993, when the Huskers beat No. 3 Kansas.

Overall, the Huskers own a 52-195 all-time record against ranked teams, including a 19-103 mark against teams ranked in the top 10 and an 11-59 mark against top-five squads. The Huskers are 16-50 against ranked teams in the Big 12 era, including 2-23 against top-10 teams and 1-14 against top-five squads.

 

|+| Dishing It

Freshman point guard Cookie Miller had a tremendous impact on the outcome of Nebraska's first game back from a three-day break for Christmas, as he posted eight points, 10 assists and five steals in the Huskers' 77-53 win over Alcorn State. Miller just missed his first career double-double while recording a personal high scoring effort in the Devaney Center (eight points; season high is 19 on the road). Aleks Maric is the only Husker to post a double-double this season and he has done it twice.

Miller's double-figure assists marked the 25th time overall and he became the ninth Husker since 1984-85 to record at least 10 assists in a game. He is the first freshman in that time to record double figure assists, making him the first Husker freshman in the Big 12 era to post at least 10 assists in a game.

Miller is only the second Husker in the past five years to record 10 assists in a game joining Charles Richardson Jr. who had 15 in a road game last year at Rutgers. The Huskers' previous 10-assist game was 2002-03 when Jake Muhleisen had 10 against nationally ranked Minnesota at home.

Miller nearly made it two straight games with double-figure assists as he had nine assists against Maryland Eastern Shore in the non-conference finale. His 19 assists in two games were the most since Richardson had 22 in consecutive games (15 vs. Rutgers; 7 vs. Oregon) last year.

Overall, Miller has had 24 assists against five turnovers in the past four games. In conference play, Miller has had just four turnovers in 97 minutes (team-high 32.3 mpg in league play), including only one turnover in 32 minutes against No. 3 Kansas and one miscue in 34 minutes in his first Big 12 road game against Colorado.

The list of Huskers with at least 10 assists in a game during the Big 12 era includes:

 

10         Cookie Miller (Alcorn State)                                2007-08

15         Charles Richardson Jr. (at Rutgers)                     2006-07

10         Jake Muhleisen (Minnesota)                                2002-03

10         Cookie Belcher (Pittsburgh)                                1999-2000

 

Miller's steady hand as a ball-distributor has helped the freshman lead the team with 63 assists (3.9 apg) against just 30 turnovers. He now needs just two assists to move into the NU freshman top 10.

 

 

|+| Road Warrior

Diminutive guard Cookie Miller has shown early in his career that he can play with the big boys, especially in hostile environments.

Miller proved how explosive his offensive game can be when he took over for the Huskers in the second half against Creighton in Omaha. Miller, who had recorded 11 points in his first three games combined, posted a game-high 19 points against the Bluejays. After scoring eight in the first half, Miller came out on fire in the second period when he scored another 11 points to help NU outscore Creighton 42-27 after the intermission in a come-from-behind attempt that fell short. Miller hit 7-of-13 attempts from the floor against the Bluejays.

In his first Big 12 Conference road game against Colorado, Miller again stepped up to pace the offense as he posted 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting while hitting four 3-pointers. Miller's 18 points were a game high.

In three road games this season, Miller is the team's top scorer at 14.3 points per game. Center Aleks Maric is the only other double-figure scorer as he has posted 13.3 points with 10.0 rebounds in three road contests.

Miller has hit 15-of-29 field-goal attempts (51.7 percent) away from the Devaney Center, including nailing 6-of-13 attempts (46.2 percent) from beyond the arc. At home, Miller has averaged 4.0 points per game on 34.5 percent shooting (19-of-55) including connecting on just 3-of-21 3-point attempts (14.3 percent) at home. Miller owns 56 assists against 19 turnovers at home, while posting just seven assists against 11 miscues on opponents' courts.

 

|+| Stealing the Show

Freshman Cookie Miller has quickly made a name for himself on the defensive end of the floor as he moved onto the Nebraska freshman top-10 steals list with five thefts against Alcorn State on Dec. 29. He had at least one steal in each of his first 14 career games until seeing the streak snapped against Colorado on the road.

Miller now ranks seventh in NU freshman history with a team-leading 30 steals this season. The Nebraska freshman and career records are also owned by a Husker named Cookie, as Cookie Belcher had 87 steals as a freshman in 1997 and finished with 353 steals in his career.

 

NU Freshman Top 10 – Steals

No.       Name (Year)                              Steals

1.         Cookie Belcher (1997)                87

2.         Tyronn Lue (1996)                      50

3.         Erick Strickland (1993)               47

4.         Joe McCray (2005)                     32

            Clifford Scales (1988)                 32

6.         Cookie Miller (2008)                   30

7.         Jake Muhleisen (2002)                28

8.         Jaron Boone (1993)                    26

9.         Ryan Anderson (2007)                25

10.        Beau Reid (1988)                       24

 

|+| Among the Best Rookies

As a newcomer to the league, freshman point guard Cookie Miller will be tested repeatedly during the Big 12 Conference season. If he can continue his success from the non-league play, Miller will likely be in the mix when the media votes on the Big 12 All-Freshman Team.

Through Thursday, Jan. 24, Miller ranked third in the Big 12 Conference in assist:turnover ratio (2:1-to-1), seventh in assists per game (3.94) and eighth in steals per game (1.88). He is the only freshman ranked in the top 10 in steals and assist:turnover ratio, and the only freshman in the top seven in assists.

 

|+| Getting Defensive

Nebraska has shown the ability to put on a strong defensive performance at times this season.

The most recent show-stopper came against North Carolina Central on Dec. 22 when Nebraska set the then-Big 12 Conference record by allowing just eight points in a half (first). NCCU posted only two 3-point field goals – also tying the then-NCAA and Big 12 record low for field goals in a half – and two free throws before intermission. The Big 12 and NCAA records held for only a couple weeks as Kansas State limited Savannah State to four second-half points and one field goal in the period on Jan. 7 to set the new NCAA records.

North Carolina Central finished with 28 points, just two off the Big 12 and building record of 26 points by Bethune-Cookman in 2003. NCCU's nine field goals in the game also tied the Big 12 Conference opponent low.

It was the second straight game at the Devaney Center that Nebraska completely dominated the defensive end. Against Savannah State on Dec. 11, the Huskers allowed just 37 points while holding SSU to just 26.4 percent shooting from the field. The Tigers had just 12 points at the half, tying the previous Big 12 record low for a period, as Nebraska allowed just 20 total points in the first period of the two consecutive games at the Devaney Center.

 

|+| 40-pointers

Nebraska's impressive defensive performances against Savannah State and North Carolina Central marked the first time in the 31-year history of the Devaney Center that NU held consecutive opponents in the building to less than 40 points. NCCU's 28 points was the second-lowest total in building history and the second-fewest points allowed in a game by Nebraska since 1947. SSU's 37 points were the sixth-lowest in building history.

Overall, the Huskers have held just five teams to less than 40 points in Devaney Center history, including two this season.

The last time Nebraska held consecutive teams to less than 40 points at home was the first two games of the 1949-50 campaign. That season marked the last time Nebraska won a league title, as it tied for first place in the Big Seven Conference that year. 

 

|+| Taking Care of Business

Coach Doc Sadler stresses the importance of ball security and being smart with every pass. The Huskers have done a solid job of listening to Sadler's direction while taking care of the ball this season as they have averaged just 13.2 miscues per game (211 turnovers in 16 games) to rank in the top 50 nationally entering the week.

Nebraska had a season-low seven turnovers against then-No. 16 Oregon, including going the final 9:27 of regulation and all of overtime without a turnover. The Huskers also posted just seven turnovers in the non-conference finale against Maryland Eastern Shore.

In league action, NU posted just 12 turnovers against the strong defensive pressure of the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks and had nine turnovers on the road against Colorado. Through three games, NU is averaging just 11.3 turnovers per game in conference action.

NU's season high for turnovers came on the road against Western Kentucky when the Huskers had 23 miscues. Nebraska also had 21 turnovers in its road opener at Creighton, including 17 in the first half.

 

|+| Under Pressure

Nebraska's defensive pressure has forced teams into an average of 17.5 turnovers per game (280 through 16 games) this season. NU has forced at least 20 turnovers in a contest five times this season, including a season-high 26 against North Carolina Central.

In the Huskers' last contest, NU forced 21 turnovers against Baylor, the most against a conference opponent since forcing 26 against Texas Tech in 1999.

 

|+| Piling Up the Points

Nebraska struggled at times early in the season to get the offense in full gear, but cranked it up a notch over the last five games of the non-conference season. During that span, the Huskers averaged 80.8 points per game on 52.0 percent shooting in five straight victories.

The Huskers had one of their most productive offensive games against Savannah State despite playing 14 players (everyone on the roster except five redshirts). All but two players scored in the contest with three earning career highs and one gaining a season high. Eleven Huskers scored at least five points apiece with junior forward Shang Ping leading the way with a game-high 11 points.

Nebraska started the game on a 26-2 run and hit 60.0 percent from the floor in the opening half before finishing the game hitting half of its attempts (27-of-54). The 82 points were just one off the then-season high and tied for the third-highest scoring game in the coach Doc Sadler era.

Nebraska came back to add 88 points in an overtime win over then-No. 16 Oregon and posted 71 points in a 43-point victory against North Carolina Central. Nebraska topped the 70-point mark for the fourth straight game with 77 points against Alcorn State and rounded out the non-conference slate with 86 points against Maryland Eastern Shore.

The five-game streak scoring at least 70 points was the second-longest under second-year head coach Doc Sadler. Last year, NU had a seven-game streak, all in non-conference action.

 

|+| Single Digits Rarity?

In what is typically an uncommon sight, the Huskers held Savannah State without a double-figure scorer on Dec. 11. Only two players scored more than five points on the night with Anthony Jones leading the way with eight points.

While it may not be common, it was the second time this year – and the second time in three home games – the Huskers held every player on the opposing team to nine or fewer points. Nebraska also turned the trick against Pac-10 foe Arizona State on Dec. 2, when three players each scored eight points to lead the team in a 62-47 loss to Nebraska.

Against North Carolina Central, the Huskers nearly made it three games without allowing a double-figure scorer as NCCU posted just 28 points in the contest, the second-fewest points NU has allowed since 1947. But Bryan Ayala's last basket gave him 11 points on the night to lead the Eagles. Only three other players scored for NCCU, one with seven points, one with six and one with four.

 

|+| Maric Chart Watch

With eight rebounds against Maryland Eastern Shore, senior center Aleks Maric improved his career total to 789 boards to rank second all-time on the Nebraska career rebounding chart. The Sydney, Australia, native took sole possession of the runner-up spot, passing Leroy Chalk who had 782 in his career. Maric will trail only Nebraska record-holder Venson Hamilton, who posted an amazing 1,080 rebounds in his career.

Maric, who currently has 811 career boards after picking up nine against Baylor, is also on pace to soon move into the career top 10 for scoring at Nebraska. Entering Saturday's game against Kansas, Maric has 1,376 career points to rank 11th all-time in Husker history. Maric needs 40 points to move into the Nebraska career top 10.

Entering the season, Maric already ranked in the NU career top 10 for blocked shots, and currently he sits in seventh place with 120 after passing former teammate Wes Wilkinson (112).

Maric is already in the Nebraska top five for free throws made (383, third) and attempted (588, third), and will reach the top 10 for field goals and games started this season.

 

|+| Hot Shooting Huskers

After a strong start to the season, it's obvious why Coach Doc Sadler was optimistic about his team's shooting ability. The Huskers have hit 47.3 percent overall from the floor this season to rank fourth in the Big 12 Conference.

Nebraska began the year by blistering the nets for an impressive 61.0 percent (25-of-41) from the floor in the season opener against Presbyterian. It was the fifth time in the Sadler era NU topped 60 percent shooting. NU has hit at least 50.0 percent in five other contests.

Center Aleks Maric has been at the front of the offensive charge during his years at Nebraska. Last season he led the Big 12 in field-goal percentage at 56.5 percent. This season Maric is currently third in the Big 12 in field-goal percentage (57.7) and he is within striking distance to become the first player since the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1996-97 to lead the league in field-goal percentage for two consecutive seasons. Only Colorado's David Harrison has led the Big 12 in field-goal percentage twice in a career (2002 and 2004). 

In his career, Maric has hit 52.8 percent (495-of-938) from the field.

 

|+| Meet the Kansas Jayhawks

The Kansas Jayhawks moved up to No. 2 in the national polls this week and kept pace with Memphis as the only undefeated teams in the country as KU won an 83-59 contest against Iowa State on Wednesday in Lawrence. All five starters scored in double figures, led by forward Darnell Jackson's 21-point, 11-rebound effort. Jackson hit 9-of-14 shots from the floor in 28 minutes.

Jackson leads the squad with 7.5 rebounds per game while adding 12.8 points per contest. He is second on the team in scoring, trailing only frontcourt mate Darrell Arthur, the talented sophomore who is averaging a team-best 13.4 points per game to go with 5.7 rebounds per contest. Arthur also paces the squad with 31 blocked shots.

Kansas owns one of the most talented backcourts in the nation with guards Brandon Rush (11.7 ppg), Mario Chalmers (12.4 ppg, 4.5 apg) and Russell Robinson (7.2 ppg, 4.6 apg). Off the bench, Sherron Collins has added 8.9 points per game.

Rush and Arthur were both preseason all-conference picks and were named to the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy watch lists along with Nebraska center Aleks Maric.

KU is among the national leaders by averaging 83.3 points per game while hitting an impressive 51.5 percent from the floor. The Jayhawks have also hit 38.9 percent from 3-point range and own a +7.0 rebounding advantage (39.0 to 32.0) while leading the nation in scoring margin (+24.3).

 

|+| Huskers Find Success in Classroom as Well as On Court

After opening a new season with the beginning of Big 12 Conference action, the Nebraska men’s basketball team also started a new ‘season’ in the classroom when second semester classes began at UNL on Monday, Jan. 14. The Huskers hope to be as successful as last semester in both areas.

As a team, Nebraska posted an 11-2 record on the court and was nearly as impressive off it. During the first semester in the classroom, the Huskers combined for a 3.016 team grade-point average. Seventeen players earned at least a 2.5 individual GPA, including 11 Huskers with better than a 3.0. Among the newcomers, six earned at least a 3.0 in their first full semester at Nebraska.

“I think this says a lot about the players as individuals and competitors,” said Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler. “To build this program, we’ve talked about how we need players who not only have talent, but who also have character. I think the effort that they’ve given to produce this kind of success in the classroom shows the type of character we have on this team.”

Junior guard Paul Velander, a secondary education/natural science major, has helped pace the Huskers’ strong academic efforts. Last spring, Velander was the 24th Husker named to the all-academic squad since the formation of the Big 12 Conference, a total that ranks second in the league.

Sadler has had a tradition of helping players find success in the classroom. As head coach at UTEP, Sadler saw 10 Miners earn at least a 3.0 grade-point average during the first semester in 2005-06, his final year at the school. As head coach at Arkansas-Fort Smith, Sadler had a 95-percent graduation rate during his five-year tenure.


|+| Strong Streaks

Nebraska has seen several impressive streaks come and go this season.

The Huskers' six straight wins to end the non-conference slate is the second-longest win streak by a Nebraska squad during the Big 12 era, matching the mark set by the 1996-97 and 2001-02 Nebraska squads. Only the 1997-98 squad has recorded seven straight wins, putting together six to end the regular season and one in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament.

Following an 86-50 win over Maryland Eastern Shore, Nebraska's 11-2 record heading into conference play was also its best mark to open a season in the Big 12 era. The previous best occurred in 2003-04 when NU began the season with a 10-2 mark through 12 games, but failed to record a win in its 13th contest.

The Huskers also had a 12-game home-court winning streak that came to an end with the first conference game against No. 3 Kansas.

 

|+| Non-Conference Success

The Huskers posted 11 victories in regular-season non-conference play, equalling the program's best mark in the Big 12 era. Nebraska also recorded 11 non-conference victories before league play last year, the first season under Coach Doc Sadler.

Before last year, Nebraska had recorded double-figure wins in non-conference play just twice since the league was formed in the 1996-97 season. The last time NU had more than 11 wins in the regular season against non-league teams was the final year of the Big Eight Conference in 1995-96, when Nebraska posted 12 victories including seven in early season tournaments.

 

|+| Going 80

Nebraska topped the 80-point plateau in consecutive games against Oregon and Savannah State, and four times total this season. Nebraska reached at least 80 points in back-to-back contests only one time last year, when NU posted three straight games over 80 points to end the non-conference season.

Overall, NU had six 80-point games last year. The Huskers are now 10-0 when scoring at least 80 points under second-year coach Doc Sadler.

Eight of the 10 highest scoring games under Sadler have come at the Devaney Center. The only times Nebraska has topped the 80-point plateau away from Lincoln was in an 82-67 victory over Miami on a neutral court last year and the 88-79 overtime win over then-No. 16 Oregon in Lincoln this year, which is Nebraska's highest-scoring game under Sadler.

 

|+| Scoring Droughts

Nebraska has dominated games this season by holding opponents to lengthy scoring droughts.

Among its best defensive starts to a game, Nebraska held North Carolina Central without a point for the first 5:00 of the game and allowed only one field goal in the opening 15:07 of the contest. NCCU went 10:07 between its first and second basket of the game as Nebraska ran to a 25-4 lead to open the game.

That strong start is becoming a similar trend as the Huskers also ran out to a 26-2 lead to start the contest with Savannah State. NU allowed just six points in the first 18:22 of the game as SSU went 6:07 without scoring a point to open the contest and then after its first field goal, did not score another point for another 7:46.

Holding opponents to long stretches between field goals is nothing new to Husker fans. Nebraska has held an opponent without a field goal for at least five minutes 21 times this year (5:38 vs. Presbyterian; 5:05 and 5:28 vs. Alabama A&M; 5:28 vs. Alabama A&M; 7:59 vs. Norfolk State; 12:48 and 6:51 vs. Arizona State; 5:02 and 5:33 vs. Rutgers; 6:07, 7:46 and 5:05 vs. Savannah State; 5:00, 10:07, 10:05 and 6:58 vs. North Carolina Central; 5:04 and 5:24 vs. Alcorn State; 5:09 and 6:05 vs. Maryland Eastern Shore; 5:48 vs. Baylor).

In what was expected to be its toughest non-conference matchup of season at the Devaney Center, Nebraska put on a defensive clinic against Arizona State. Nebraska allowed just one basket – and only four points total – over the final 11:26 of the opening period. After a 3-pointer at the 8:36 mark, ASU had just four more shots in the half and missed all of them while committing eight turnovers in the stretch. The Sun Devils then recorded one basket in the first 11:03 of the second period. That made it 12:48 between baskets (8:36 in first half to 15:48 in second half) and a stretch of 19:39 with only one made field goal and 14 total points (one 3-pointer and 11 free throws).

The performance against ASU (12:48 between field goals) was the second-longest opponent scoring drought in the coach Doc Sadler era. Last year, the Huskers recorded 20 stretches of at least 5:00 off the clock without allowing a field goal, including a season-high 14:28 for Houston between baskets in the second half.

 

|+| Shutting It Down

Nebraska has held opponents to Big 12-low 36.9 percent shooting from the field through 16 games, including limiting four opponents to less than 28 percent. The Huskers set a season-low by allowing North Carolina Central to hit just 19.6 percent from the field, a Devaney Center opponent record.

Over consecutive games, the Huskers held Alabama A&M to just 27.6 percent shooting from the floor while allowing Norfolk State to connect on only 26.8 percent of its shots. The last time Nebraska held back-to-back opponents to less than 28 percent shooting was in 2003 when Tennessee hit 27.9 percent followed by Bethune-Cookman hitting 21.2 percent, the previous building low until NCCU broke the record. Bethune-Cookman scored just 26 points in that contest, also a building and Big 12 Conference record opponent low.

NU also held Savannah State to just 26.4 percent shooting this season. Nebraska has now held opponents to less than 30 percent shooting 19 times during the Big 12 era.

 

|+| Slowing the Scoring

Nebraska has been solid on defense this season and has allowed 56.3 points per game on 36.9 percent shooting over the first 16 contests, with both totals leading the Big 12 Conference this season. NU has held six opponents to 50 or fewer points this year, after holding just two opponents to under 50 points – including a Division II school – all of last season.

Through the NCAA reporting period on Jan. 22, the Huskers ranked fourth in scoring defense and sixth nationally in field-goal percentage defense.

The most high-profile team Nebraska has held under 50 points this season was Arizona State. The Pac-10 opponent recorded just 21 points in the first period and 26 in the second. In fact, NU turned up the defensive pressure enough that the Sun Devils had just 31 points with 6:40 to play in the contest.

Nebraska opened the year on a strong note as it held its first three opponents to 52 or fewer points, the first time NU had accomplished the feat to open the season since 1946-47. The last time Nebraska held three straight opponents to 52 or fewer points at any point in a season was 1981-82.

 

|+| Redshirt Decisions Made

Coach Doc Sadler announced on Saturday, Nov. 17, that two newcomers had made the decision to redshirt this season to better acclimate to Division I play. Sadler said that sophomore transfer Alex Chapman and freshman Brandon Richardson will redshirt this season.

After taking a while longer to decide, Sadler said on Dec. 2 that freshmen Alonzo Edwards and Toney McCray, who have dressed for every game this season, also decided to redshirt, giving NU a solid core for the future.

Also redshirting this season is true freshman walk-on Mike Diacos, a native of Ventura, Calif.

 

|+| Huskers Pick Up Hardware

A pair of Huskers were honored by the Big 12 Conference on Monday, Dec. 17, as senior center Aleks Maric was named the league’s player of the week and junior guard Ade Dagunduro was selected as the rookie of the week. The honors marked the first time in school history Nebraska players were selected for the accolades in the same week.

Maric picked up his second career nod as player of the week and his third overall honor. He was also selected player of the week on Nov. 20, 2006 and was the league’s rookie of the week on Feb. 28, 2005. He is one of only three Huskers to earn the Big 12 Player-of-the-Week accolade, and he became the third Husker to earn the honor twice. Venson Hamilton also picked up the award twice in his senior season in 1999 (in back-to-back weeks) while Tyronn Lue added two awards as a junior, his last season at Nebraska before making an early entry into the NBA Draft.

Maric is the first Husker ever to be named the conference’s player and rookie of the week in his career, and tied Kimani Ffriend for the most individual weekly honors by a Husker with three. Ffriend was the rookie of the three times as a junior in 1999.

Dagunduro is the seventh Husker to earn the newcomer-of-the-week honor and first since Marcus Walker was selected in December, 2005. Only two Husker newcomers have earned multiple awards, with Joe McCray being selected twice in 2004-05 and Ffriend.

Maric and Dagunduro earned the honors after helping the Huskers to pound Savannah State in a 45-point victory for the largest win under second-year coach Doc Sadler. Maric and Dagunduro’s defense helped NU to open a 26-2 lead to begin the game, including holding SSU to one field goal for the first 13 minutes of the game.

The duo then helped Nebraska knock off its second ranked non-conference team in two seasons, including NU’s first-ever win over a ranked team outside Lincoln with an 88-79 overtime victory over No. 16 Oregon. It was the highest-ranked non-league opponent Nebraska has defeated since topping No. 15 Michigan State in 1994.

Maric averaged a team-high 16.5 points to go along with 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game for the week. His top effort came against the Ducks, as he posted his third 20-point game of the season with a team-best 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Maric recorded 17 points after halftime. He shot 63.2 percent (12-of-19) on the week, plus 75.0 percent (9-of-12) from the free throw line.

Dagunduro registered 12.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game in the two victories. The junior had 15 points and seven rebounds versus Oregon, helping NU hold the Ducks to 12 points below their season scoring average. He added nine points, four rebounds and four steals earlier in the week. 

In addition to Maric and Dagunduro’s individual awards, the Nebraska men’s basketball team was selected as the ‘Team of the Week’ by ESPN.com national basketball writer Andy Katz, on Monday, Dec. 17. The honor came after Nebraska’s thrilling 88-79 overtime victory over No. 16 Oregon last Saturday at the Qwest Center Omaha. Katz noted the Huskers’ ability to take care of the ball (only seven turnovers) and solid defensive effort (18 Oregon turnovers) as reasons for earning the weekly honor. ESPN's Jay Bilas also honored Maric on his weekly honor roll first team and Ryan Anderson (21 points and four steals) on his second team.

Voters in the Associated Press poll also took notice, as Nebraska received two votes in the Dec. 17, 2007, poll, one of five Big 12 Conference teams either ranked or earning votes that week. It was the second time NU received votes under Coach Doc Sadler and first time since earning one vote in week two (Nov. 20) of the 2006-07 season after Nebraska defeated then-No. 20 Creighton. NU lost its two votes the following week each time.

Prior to Sadler's first season with Nebraska in 2006-07, the last time NU received votes in the AP poll was Jan. 16, 2006, when Nebraska was 32nd with 18 points after defeating then-No. 12 Oklahoma a week before.

 

|+| Huskers Continue Strong Non-Conference Run

Nebraska improved its all-time mark under second-year Coach Doc Sadler to 9-1 in the month of November when it defeated IPFW. The Huskers then continued the strong surge into December, where they now own an all-time record of 10-4 under Sadler. Nebraska is just 6-0 at home in the month of December under Sadler as last season the Huskers played 6-of-7 December contests away from Lincoln. 

Overall, Nebraska is 19-0 in home non-conference games under Sadler since he took over the program last season. The Huskers are 4-5 against non-league teams away from Lincoln, including 0-4 in true road games.

The Huskers have won 24 straight non-conference,  regular-season games as the home team dating to a 73-72 loss to UAB in the 2005-06 campaign (including the Oregon game in Omaha). Nebraska is 86-13 in non-league tilts at the Devaney Center since the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1996-97.

Nebraska is 378-120 all-time in the 32-year history of the Devaney Center, including 26 seasons with at least 10 victories.

 

|+| Under Pressure

Since his introductory press conference, Coach Doc Sadler has said that he wants to get to the point where his team can pressure the opponent for 94 feet. With an upgrade in athleticism, speed and talent, that philosophy has already come into play more often this year.

If the non-conference season is any indication, Sadler's penchant for a disruptive defense will be widely embraced by the players and fans alike. Through 16 games, Nebraska has forced 280 turnovers and recorded 140 steals while allowing opponents to record just 148 assists. Eleven Huskers have posted at least one steal in a game this year, including four players averaging at least one steal per game.

Nebraska posted a season-high-tying 14 steals against North Carolina Central, equaling the mark set against Alabama A&M. The 14 steals are the second-most by a Husker squad under Sadler, trailing only the 15 against North Texas last year.

The 14 steals against NCCU made it three consecutive games with double-figure steals. The last time NU had at least 10 steals in three straight games was the last game of 2003-04 (at Hawaii in the NIT) and the first two games of 2004-05. The last time NU posted three consecutive games in the same season with double-figure steals was the first three games of 2000-01.

Overall this season, Nebraska has posted double-figure steals six times. The Huskers have had at least nine steals in 10 games this year after posting at least nine steals in just four games in 2006-07.

 

|+| New Faces Gain Court Time

Despite returning eight letterwinners from a year ago, the Huskers knew there would be a completely different look to the squad this season. Among the 19 players on the roster, eight are scholarship newcomers. There are also two walk-ons who redshirted last year in the program  and one new invited walk-on.

Two newcomers – junior Ade Dagunduro and freshman Cookie Miller – have been fixtures in the Huskers' starting lineup this season. Dagunduro has started every game this season while Miller has been in the lineup for the opening tip in all but one contest. Junior college transfer Steve Harley also started three contests for the Huskers, making him the third newcomer to join the starting five.

Overall, Sadler has played a total of six players this season who had never worn a Nebraska uniform before. Along with the trio that has earned starts, newcomer Shang Ping, a junior college product, and redshirts Cole Salomon and Andrew Wicklund have all come off the bench for the Huskers. Three of them – Dagunduro, Miller and Ping – have played in every game and are all averaging at least 12 minutes per contest. Harley has also played in all but one contest while averaging better than 20 minutes per game. Salomon and Wicklund are walk-ons who made their first career appearances this season.

 

|+| All-American Aussie?

After a solid junior campaign that saw him average 18.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, center Aleks Maric is the top returning scorer and rebounder in the Big 12 Conference and will contend for All-America honors this winter.

A second-team all-league selection following last season, Maric was named an Athlon Sports magazine third-team  preseason All-American this fall and was a member of the  preseason All-Big 12 team selected by the coaches. If he picks up All-America honors, Maric would become just the ninth Husker ever to earn postseason All-America honors and the first since Carl McPipe in 1978.

In addition to the preseason honors, Maric is among 50 players named to the initial watch lists for two prestigious player-of-the-year honors, the Wooden Award and the Naismith Trophy.

 

|+| Returning to Form

After averaging better than 18 points and nine rebounds a game as a junior, center Aleks Maric was one of the top returning players in the country entering the 2007-08 campaign.

Between players from BCS conferences, Maric was third among returning scorers from last year, trailing only Chris Lofton of Tennessee (20.8 ppg) and Sean Singletary of Virginia (19.0 ppg). Maric was also sixth among returning BCS conference players in field-goal percentage and seventh in rebounding average.

This season, Maric is averaging a team-best 16.6 points per game while Singletary has gained 18.0 points per contest for the Virginia Cavaliers. Lofton, a first-team preseason All-American, is averaging just 13.4 points per contests for the Volunteers.

 

|+| Anderson Builds Solid Resume

Entering last season with only a handful of players with Division I experience meant that some newcomers would have to step up. The first to answer Coach Doc Sadler's call was Ryan Anderson, who despite standing just 6-4, played the majority of the season at the 4 spot and created offensive mismatches against opponents on a nightly basis.

As one of five returning scholarship players, the Seattle native is continuing to build a strong resume as one of the Huskers' top all-around players. A starter in every game this year, Anderson has averaged 9.3 points per game this year to rank third on the squad and has pulled down 5.8 rebounds per contest, second only to Aleks Maric's 8.2 boards per game. Anderson owns the team lead with 25 3-pointers and has been on the floor more than anyone, averaging a team-high 27.9 minutes per contest.

Anderson posted his most complete game against then-No. 16 Oregon, when he poured in 21 points on 5-of-9 shooting and added nine rebounds and four steals as the Huskers knocked off the nationally ranked Ducks. Two weeks earlier, Anderson knocked down four 3-pointers on his way to 14 points with seven rebounds and two steals against Arizona State, helping the Huskers go 2-0 against the Pac-10 this season.

Last year, Anderson was second on the team with 10.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, while ranking among the top 10 freshmen all-time at Nebraska in points scored, field goals, rebounds, 3-pointers and steals.

Anderson put up some of his best games against the top competition last year as he averaged a team-best 15.8 points over four games in 2006-07 against ranked teams while hitting 55.0 percent from the floor.

In his career, Anderson has faced six ranked teams and averaged 16.0 points per contest (96 total points), including 12 points against Kansas in the first meeting of the year two weeks ago.

Anderson was second on the squad with 48 3-pointers in 2006-07, the second-highest total by a freshman in Nebraska history. He tied the NU single-game 3-point percentage record with a 5-for-5 effort from beyond the arc at Rutgers and equalled NU freshman record with seven treys against Hawaii.

 

|+| Strowbridge on the Mark

Sophomore guard Jay-R Strowbridge received great praise from Coach Doc Sadler during the preseason as one of the most improved players on the team. While injury has set him back twice this season, including the week before the start of conference play, Strowbridge has again proven to be one of the Huskers' top 3-point shooters.

After setting a blistering pace as a rookie last season, Strowbridge has hit at a 41.0 percent clip from beyond the arc this season, knocking down 16-of-39 3-point attempts. While it is behind last year's average that ranks third in single-season history and first in the NU freshman record book (47.3 percent, 25-of-54), Strowbridge still owns a career mark of 44.1 percent (41-of-93).

With 93 attempts in his career, Strowbridge now qualifies for the Nebraska career record where he moved into the all-time lead ahead of former leader Brian Conklin, who knocked down 43.2 percent in his career (176-of-407). Strowbridge's career mark is also ahead of NU's career 3-point leader Cary Cochran, who hit 268-of-630 attempts from long range.

 

Nebraska Career 3-point Pct. (min. 90 attempts)

Rank     Player (seasons)                                    3FG      3PA      Pct.

1.         Jay-R Strowbridge (2007-pres.)                41         93         .441

2.         Brian Conklin (2001-04)                          176       407       .432

3.         Cary Cochran (1999-2002)                      268       630       .425

4.         Ryan Anderson (2007-pres.)                    73         174       .420

5.         Clifford Scales (1988-91)                         45         110       .409

6.         Henry T. Buchanan (1987-88)                  67         165       .406

7.         Chris Cresswell (1990-92)                       103       261       .395

8.         Marcus Perry (2006-07)                          98         249       .394

9.         Paul Velander (2006-pres.)                      48         124       .387

10.        Ray Richardson (1989-90)                       105       278       .378

 

|+| One for the Record Book

Already among the best centers all-time at Nebraska, Aleks Maric became only the second player in NU history to record at least 1,000 points and 600 rebounds before the end of his junior season. He finished last year with 1,111 points and 680 rebounds.

Entering Saturday's contest with Kansas, Maric now has 1,376 career points and 811 rebounds. By matching his production from last year (556 points, 260 rebounds), Maric would finish his career ranked fifth all-time on the Nebraska scoring chart. He is currently second all-time in rebounds, and will finish in that spot as he trails the all-time leader, Venson Hamilton, by 269 boards.

 

|+| Newcomers Earn Praise

While they still have a lot to prove on the floor, the newest group of Huskers were welcomed to Lincoln with impressive fanfare by the recruiting analysts. As a group, this year's recruiting class was ranked among the top 25 in the country by several top analysts, including No. 11 by Van Coleman (CSTV.com) and No. 21 by Bob Gibbons (ESPN.com). Clark Francis of HoopScoop had the Huskers as high as No. 5 among early signing classes.

Individually, several new Huskers joined the program after all-star caliber careers in junior college and high school. Guard Steve Harley, a transfer from South Plains (Texas) College, was a two-time All-American, including earning first-team honors last year, and was ranked No. 4 in the country among guards by nbadraft.net. Shang Ping was ranked No. 8 at small forward by the same service. Alonzo Edwards was No. 18 among small forwards and in the top 125 overall  by ESPN.com.

 

|+| Making History

Coach Doc Sadler is quickly making a name for himself at Nebraska. Last season, he was the third-winningest first-year coach in program history by helping the Huskers to 17 victories.

This year, Sadler became one of only two coaches in program history to win at least three straight games to open the season in each of his first two years on the Husker bench. He joined E.O. 'Jumbo' Stiehm who opened 1911-12 and 1912-13 with five victories each year.

This is the third consecutive season Nebraska opened with three wins in the first three games. The last time Nebraska won at least three contests to open a campaign in three straight seasons was 1977-78 to 1979-80.

Sadler already owns 28 victories as Nebraska's head coach and is 13th overall in victories at Nebraska (among 26 all-time NU head coaches). A quick look at Nebraska's head coaches and their win totals through their first two years in Lincoln puts Sadler in a tie for fifth place all-time heading into this week's contest at Colorado.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MORE NEWS

More News Sponsor - First National Bank

TICKETS

Tickets Sponsor - StubHub
Football vs. A-State Tickets