Huskers Look to Defend Home Court
Game Date: Jan. 16, 2010
Tipoff Time: 7:06 p.m.
Venue: Devaney Center
Huskers on TV/Radio/Internet
Television: FS Midwest (in Nebraska); ESPN FullCourt, Play-by-play: Greg Sharpe, Color: Eric Piatkowski
Radio: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network, Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka, Color: Matt Davison
Internet Radio/Stats: Free on Huskers.com
Internet Video: ESPN360.com
Game 18 Notes
2009-10 Record: 12-5, 0-2 Big 12
Head coach: Doc Sadler
Record at Nebraska: 67-45 (4th year)
Record at Division I: 115-63 (6th year)
Career Record: 235-102 (11th year)
Iowa State Cyclones
Game 17 Notes
2009-10 Record: 11-5, 0-1 Big 12
Head coach: Greg McDermott
Record at ISU: 55-55 (4th year)
Career Record: 276-183 (16th year)
NU's Possible Starting Lineup 2009-10 stats
No. Name Yr. Ht. Wt. Pts. Rbs.
1 Eshaunte Jones RFr. 6-4 190 6.6 2.9
5 Sek Henry Sr. 6-4 200 7.8 3.6
21 Jorge Brian Diaz RFr. 6-11 235 9.0 4.0
34 Lance Jeter Jr. 6-3 225 6.6 4.4*
44 Ryan Anderson Sr. 6-4 195 11.0 4.8
*assists per game
ISU's Possible Starting Lineup 2009-10 stats
No. Name Yr. Ht. Wt. Pts. Rbs.
3 Marquis Gilstrap Sr. 6-7 215 14.7 8.7
5 Lucca Staiger Jr. 6-5 220 9.5 1.9
10 Diante Garrett Jr. 6-4 190 8.4 5.4*
21 Craig Brackins Jr. 6-10 230 16.9 7.9
41 Justin Hamilton So. 6-11 260 4.9 3.4
*assists per game
Huskers Look to Defend Home Court vs. Cyclones
Making its second straight appearance at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, the Nebraska basketball team looks to snap its first two-game losing streak of the season as it tries to defend its home court while playing host to the Iowa State Cyclones on Saturday, Jan. 16.
The Huskers and Cyclones will tip off at 7:06 p.m. in a game that can be seen around the state on FS Midwest (channel 37 in Lincoln; channel 47 in Omaha; DirecTV 657; Dish Network 452). It will also be seen around the country on ESPN FullCourt. Greg Sharpe will again handle play-by-play duties for the telecast while Husker great Eric Piatkowski provides color commentary.
A live video stream of Wednesday's game can be seen on the Internet at ESPN360.com. It will also be heard live on the IMG Husker Sports Radio Network and around the world on the Internet at Huskers.com with veteran play-by-play man Kent Pavelka calling the action while former Husker Matt Davison adds color commentary.
Nebraska is aiming to get back on the winning track, which means locking down the defensive end. The Cornhuskers lead the conference in scoring defense by allowing 60.1 points per game. Over the past two seasons (NU led the conference in scoring defense each year), Nebraska owns a 10-6 record at home in league action, including holding Big 12 teams to 55 or fewer points six times in that stretch.
While the Husker defensive effort was not up to par in a loss to No. 3 Kansas on Wednesday, the offense continued to show signs of improvement. Nebraska posted 72 points against the Jayhawks, who came into the game with the second-rated scoring defense in the league by allowing less than 61 points per game.
The Huskers hit 55 percent from 3-point range and 45 percent from the floor overall with center Jorge Brian Diaz leading the way. The redshirt freshman nailed 7-of-10 shots from the field vs. KU and now ranks third in field-goal percentage (70.6, 12-of-17) in Big 12 games this year.
Diaz is one of four Huskers currently averaging double figures in conference action. Three of those players - Diaz (12.5 ppg), Christian Standhardinger (10.5 ppg) and Eshaunte Jones (10.5 ppg) - are freshmen while the other - Brandon Richardson (12.0 ppg) - is only a sophomore.
Scouting the Iowa State Cyclones
The Iowa State Cyclones will be hitting the road for the first time in Big 12 Conference action when they travel to Lincoln to take on the Cornhuskers on Saturday. ISU is 2-3 away from home this season, including a 1-1 mark in true road games. The Cyclones' win came in a 90-70 victory over in-state foe Drake. ISU also lost a true road contest, 82-63, at California as part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series.
ISU's road win came behind a record-setting performance from junior guard Lucca Staiger. The German, who played at the same program as current Huskers Christopher Niemann and Christian Standhardinger, knocked down a record 10 3-pointers on 16 attempts against the Bulldogs as he carried the team as part of a six-game win streak to open the season.
Staiger easily leads the team with 46 3-pointers this season on 43.0 percent shooting (46-of-107). No other Cyclone has even 20 3-pointers, and only three others have at least 10. As a team, the Cyclones are proficient from outside the arc, hitting 42.0 percent while knocking down 7.4 treys per game, mostly behind Staiger's effort.
On the season, Staiger is third on the team in scoring at 9.5 points per contest. He has attempted just seven shots inside the 3-point line this year, making three. He adds 1.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.
Staiger trails top-10 NBA Draft prospect Craig Brackins (16.9 ppg) and preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Marquis Gilstrap (14.7 ppg) in the scoring department. Brackins has hit 45.5 percent from the field and 76.5 percent at the line (62-of-81) while adding 7.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. Gilstrap has hit 47.1 percent from the floor and has gotten to the charity stripe a team-high 84 times, converting 55. He leads the team with 8.7 rebounds per game as the Cylones have held a +2.5 rebounding advantage this season.
Junior point guard Diante Garrett is in his third year in the starting lineup running the offense. Garrett has averaged 8.4 points per game to rank fourth on the squad while distributing 5.4 assists per game to rank among the league leaders.
The Cylcones are coached by Greg McDermott (Northern Iowa, 1988), who is in his fourth year on the ISU bench. He owns a 55-55 record in Ames, and is 276-183 overall in 16 years.
Series history vs. Iowa State
Nebraska and Iowa State meet for the 231st time on Saturday with the Cornhuskers holding a 130-100 all-time series record since play began in the 1908-09 season. That year, the teams met four times with the Huskers winning three games. NU won 26 of the first 32 matchups in the early 1900s, but recently, ISU has won 15 of the last 26 contests since the start of the Big 12 era.
}} Seventeen of the past 34 meetings have been decided by six points or less.
}} The home team has won each of the last four meetings. Before that, the road team had won five of the previous six matchups.
}} Nebraska leads the series by a 78-32 margin in Lincoln. At the Devaney Center, Nebraska holds a 21-13 record over Iowa State since 1977.
}} Last year's 77-61 Husker win in Lincoln was the largest margin of victory for Nebraska over ISU since 1986. That year, the Huskers earned a 75-58 win over the Cyclones.
}} The teams have split the season series in seven of the past eight years, including each of the last two. ISU has swept the series three times in the Big 12 era, while NU has swept it once.
}} The Huskers have not won consecutive games over Iowa State since taking three straight between 1997 and 1998. That is Nebraska's only winning streak in the series since the formation of the Big 12 Conference.
Last Year's Meetings - Nebraska and Iowa State
Nebraska and Iowa State have had a tendency to play close contests throughout their history, although last year's games were out of the norm. The Huskers fell by 12 in Ames while winning by 16 in Lincoln, marking only the second time in the Big 12 era that consecutive games between NU and ISU were each decided by double figures.
}} In the team's last meeting at the end of last season, Ade Dagunduro tied his career-high with 24 points to help himself and the rest of the senior class go out in style, as the Huskers ran past Iowa State in the second half for a 77-61 win on Senior Night inside the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
Dagunduro highlighted the offensive outburst by tying his career high with 24 points to lead four Huskers in double figures. Dagunduro hit 9-of-15 shots from the field while also grabbing six rebounds. Fellow senior Steve Harley scored 10 points, while Cookie Miller added 14 and Ryan Anderson hit three 3-pointers to finish with 11. Sek Henry enjoyed a balanced night offensively, finishing with eight points, four assists and a season-high nine rebounds.
Craig Brackins did his best to keep Iowa State in the game, as he scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds before fouling out with 2:07 to play.
Nebraska led by just three at halftime before outscoring the Cyclones 43-30 in the second half. The turning point in the game was a 10-minute stretch where the Huskers outscored ISU 23-6. Brackins pulled Iowa State within two with 15:02 to play, but by the 5:46 mark, NU had stretched the lead to 68-49, the largest margin of the game.
}} In their first meeting last year in Ames, Nebraska rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit and tied Iowa State at 45-45 with less than seven minutes remaining, but the Cyclones hit four big shots down the stretch to pull away in the final three minutes and earn a 65-53 victory.
The Huskers trailed 32-20 at the intermission and scored the first six points of the second half before Craig Brackins and Lucca Staiger powered ISU back in front by double figures. Staiger's 3-pointer at the 15:09 mark, one of his six treys in the game, helped Iowa State match its largest lead of the contest at 13 points, 39-26. NU continued to battle and Steve Harley's basket with 2:55 to play cut the Cyclone lead to two, before ISU pulled away for good as it hit four of its last five shots from the field and 3-of-4 free throws, all in the final three minutes.
In each of coach Doc Sadler's four seasons in Lincoln, Nebraska has jumped out to fast starts during non-conference play. Those quick starts have left the Huskers with marks that rank among the best mid-season records in program history.
}} The Cornhuskers have now opened the season with a 12-5 record three times in Sadler's four years in Lincoln. The 12-5 record to open the season ties for the best mark by the Huskers in the Big 12 era, also matched four other times.
}} A win Saturday over Iowa State would give Nebraska its best 18-game start in the Big 12 era. The Huskers have been 12-6 on five previous occasions through 18 games, including each of the past four seasons, but have not had a better start since 1995-96 when NU opened 14-4.
}} The Huskers' current start of 12-5 ties for the 13th-best season-opening record overall in 114 years of Nebraska basketball. Since World War II, the 12-5 opening is tied for the ninth-best record at NU.
}} This year's squad set Nebraska's Big 12-era record with 12 non-conference wins, bettering the previous best of 11. It's the third-highest regular-season total in school history.
}} The Huskers' 12th win came on Jan. 5, making it the fastest Nebraska has reached 12 wins (in terms of date) since 1990-91 when the Huskers posted their 12th win on Dec. 30. NU went on to post a school-record 26 wins (eight losses) that season while reaching the first of four straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
Huskers Look For First Conference Win
After falling in an exciting contest against No. 3 Kansas, 84-72, on Wednesday, the Huskers will be looking for their first Big 12 Conference win of the season when they square off against Iowa State at home on Saturday. At 0-2 in league play, the Huskers will be trying to avoid the fourth 0-3 start in the Big 12 era.
}} Nebraska has not started league play 0-3 since 2007-08 when it began 0-4 before rebounding for seven wins in the final 12 league games. NU has opened league play with an 0-3 record in only two other seasons (2003-04 and 1999-2000) during the Big 12 era.
}} The Huskers will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak to open Big 12 Conference play. Nebraska is trying to erase a trend this year as the Huskers have experienced at least one three-game losing streak in league action each of the past eight years.
}} Nebraska has started the league home slate with consecutive losses only once in the Big 12 era. NU lost each of its first two league home games in 2008, falling to No. 3 Kansas and Baylor before winning five of its last six Big 12 games in the Devaney Center that year.
Welcome to the League
Nebraska coach Doc Sadler played 10 players in the Huskers' Big 12 Conference opener at Texas A&M on Jan. 9. In that contest, seven Huskers made their career Big 12 debuts as only three - Ryan Anderson, Sek Henry and Brandon Richardson - had ever faced a league squad.
}} The Huskers had five freshmen (three true, two redshirts) play in the Texas A&M contest, half of their total players to get into the game. At one point midway through the game, Nebraska had a lineup on the floor that included four freshmen - Jorge Brian Diaz, Christian Standhardinger, Eshaunte Jones and Ray Gallegos - and a junior college transfer - Lance Jeter - who had combined for zero minutes in Big 12 action before that day.
}} Nebraska has started two freshman in league play through two games. Redshirt freshman Jorge Brian Diaz has started both contests while redshirt freshman Eshaunte Jones has also started once.
}} Coach Doc Sadler has seen solid production out of his youngsters early in the league slate. Through two games, Nebraska's freshman class consisting of Jorge Brian Diaz (12.5 ppg, team high), Christian Standhardinger (10.5 ppg), Eshaunte Jones (10.5 ppg), Brandon Ubel (2.0 ppg) and Ray Gallegos (0.0 ppg) have combined for 35.5 points per game.
}} As a team, Nebraska is averaging 62.5 ppg, meaning the freshmen have produced 56.8 percent of the total points. The freshmen also have 20 of the team's 51 rebounds (39.2 percent).
Diaz Enjoying Fine Start to Big 12 Play
Center Jorge Brian Diaz has been fairly consistent this season in the scoring department for a freshman. The 6-11, 235-pounder has averaged 9.0 points per game on the season, second among Huskers with at least 10 games played. His numbers, however, have been outstanding in his first two games in Big 12 Conference play despite going up against veteran big man Bryan Davis of Texas A&M and preseason All-American Cole Aldrich of Kansas in the first two games.
}} Diaz has led the Huskers with 12.5 points per game through the first two contests. He posted 15 points against No. 3 Kansas on Wednesday with a variety of post moves as well as a number of mid-range jumpers. It was his highest scoring output since posting a career-best 22 points against TCU at the end of November.
}} In conference play, Diaz has hit 70.6 percent from the field, knocking down 12-of-17 shots. His field-goal percentage is third in the Big 12 Conference entering the weekend.
}} The Caguas, Puerto Rico native has come on strong the past couple weeks since Christmas, leaving coach Doc Sadler to note that Diaz is "starting to get it not just physically, but mentally too. It's starting to click with him and it shows." That is notable as Diaz has scored double figures in three of the past four games after posting double figures four times in the first 13 games of his career.
}} Since facing potential first-round NBA pick Jerome Jordan of Tulsa in the Las Vegas Classic just before Christmas, Diaz has hit 32-of-50 (64 percent) from the floor.
Standhardinger Makes Debut
After sitting out the non-conference slate, freshman forward Christian Standhardinger jumped right into the action as conference play got started on Jan. 9 at Texas A&M. The 6-8, 210-pounder quickly made his presence felt for the Huskers as he had a team-high 13 points and seven rebounds vs. the Aggies.
}} Standhardinger made his career debut just over seven minutes into the game and had five points and three rebounds in the opening period. His 3-pointer in the second half gave Nebraska a 42-40 lead and his free throw less than a minute later gave NU its final lead of the game, 43-42.
}} In his second career game, Standhardinger posted eight points on 2-of-7 shooting with two rebounds (both offensive) in 19 minutes off the bench against No. 3 Kansas.
}} Standhardinger also led Nebraska in scoring in each of the two exhibition games, finishing the preseason with 17.5 points per contest while shooting 11-of-18 (61.1 percent) from the floor. He nailed 13-of-15 free throw attempts, including 9-of-11 in his first appearance, while adding 7.0 rebounds per game. In Nebraska's final exhibition game, Standhardinger got a spot in the starting lineup where he hit 7-of-11 shots from the field for 18 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes of action.
}} An NCAA amateurism ruling mandated that the freshman forward had to sit out the first 15 games of the season because the club team he played on in his native Germany included a professional. It was the same team that produced fellow Husker Christopher Niemann, who had to sit out all of last season because of the NCAA's ruling at the time. Standhardinger was not allowed to travel with the team, but practiced with the Huskers during the non-conference season.
Cool Hand Lance
Coming into the season, there was some question about who would become Nebraska's floor general as, after last season, two-year starting point guard Cookie Miller decided to transfer and go to school back in his home state of W. Va. As the non-conference slate has now turned to league play, there is no question who that commander is as point guard Lance Jeter has made his presence felt throughout the program.
The 6-3, 225-pound native of Beaver Falls, Pa., has been a steady force for the Huskers, taking turns knocking down big shots and learning when to pass the ball to his new teammates. That second talent has been on display at the highest level in the past three weeks as Jeter has posted 44 assists against just 12 turnovers in the Huskers' past eight games.
}} Jeter leads the team with 75 assists and his 4.4 assists per game is sixth in the Big 12 Conference. He has had at least four assists in each of the past eight games and has had more than one turnover in a game just three times in that span.
}} In conference play, Jeter is second entering the weekend with 7.5 assists per game. He posted a career high in each of the past two games with seven assists at Texas A&M and then eight against No. 3 Kansas.
}} He also has shown good decision-making as he owns a 2.42 assist-to-turnover ratio (75 to 31). Entering the weekend, Jeter ranks in the top 40 in the country and fourth in the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio. His 4.4 apg placed him among the top 125 assist men in the nation.
}} Jeter has had at least five assists in eight games this season, including each of the past six consecutive contests. The six straight games with at least five assists is the longest streak by a Husker in the Big 12 era, surpassing the five straight games Charles Richardson Jr. had at least five assists in 2006-07.
Richardson Making a Charge
Last year, guard Brandon Richardson missed the first four games of league play becuase of a shoulder injury suffered in the non-conference finale. After he came back, it took him a little while to settle in and start to gain some confidence back on both ends of the court.
This season, Richardson has still had health problems with a bad back that forced him to miss a game, but he's quietly slid into a comfort zone over the last eight games that could provide him - and the Huskers - a spark during the meat grinder that will be Big 12 Conference action in 2010.
}} The talented Richardson has posted Nebraska's second-highest scoring average over the last eight games, including posting career-best four straight games scoring in double figures heading into league play.
}} A 2,000-point scorer in high school, Richardson has averaged 11.6 points per game in the last eight games while hitting an impressive 58.5 percent (24-of-41) from the floor.
}} During that eight-game stretch, Richardson has knocked down 12-of-21 3-point attempts (57.1 percent) and 21-of-24 tries (87.5 percent) at the charity stripe. He also has 13 assists against just four turnovers in those contests while adding six steals. All of this has come in only 21.9 minutes of action per game.
}} Richardson set a career high with 18 points to lead Nebraska in a 12-point loss against No. 3 Kansas. Despite missing the previous two days with an illness that caused him to lose about eight pounds, Richardson hit 5-of-6 shots from the floor, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, in 21 minutes off the bench. He also drained all five free throw attempts.
Versatile Anderson in Elite Company
Ryan Anderson joined an elite club last year as he became just the seventh Husker to record at least 100 3-pointers, 100 assists and 100 steals in a career. Among that short list are Eric Piatkowski, Tyronn Lue, Erick Strickland, Cookie Belcher, Cary Cochran and Jaron Boone, along with Anderson.
For his career, Anderson now has 151 3-pointers, 147 steals and 194 assists. He needs three steals to join Strickland as the only two Huskers ever with at least 150 in each of the three categories.
}} Anderson is also reaching other heights as he is nearing the 1,000-point plateau. He currently has 950 career points, leaving him 50 points from becoming only the 25th Husker ever to cross the 1,000-point barrier, and the first since Aleks Maric did it his junior year in 2006-07.
}} Much closer is the 500-rebound mark, which Anderson will reach with three more boards. The 6-4 Anderson will not reach the NU career top 10 (10th place is 679 boards by Rex Ekwall in 1955-57), but he has etched his name into Husker fans' collective memories as he has battled and persevered at the 4 spot each year despite giving up 6-8 inches and 50-80 pounds to his opponents in the post nearly every night of Big 12 play.
}} If Anderson reaches 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 150 3-pointers, he would become one of only a handful of players in the Big 12 era to surpass each of those marks in a career. He will be the first Cornhusker in the era to do it and will be just the third Husker ever, joining Piatkowski and Strickland. The other eight players to play solely in the Big 12 era and reach those three marks are:
• Obi Muonelo (Oklahoma State, 2007-present): 1,112 points, 504 rebounds, 189 3-pointers
• Terrel Harris (Oklahoma State, 2005-09): 1,319 points, 512 rebounds, 153 3-pointers
• Josh Carter (Texas A&M, 2005-09): 1,566 points, 509 rebounds, 299 3-pointers
• Brandon Rush (Kansas, 2006-08): 1,477 points, 602 rebounds, 205 3-pointers
• Richard Roby (Colorado, 2004-08): 2,001 points, 659 rebounds, 214 3-pointers
• Cartier Martin (Kansas State, 2003-07): 1,546 points, 540 rebounds, 178 3-pointers
• Rickey Paulding (Missouri, 2000-04): 1,673 points, 526 rebounds, 191 3-pointers
• Kirk Hinrich (Kansas, 2000-03): 1,753 points, 532 rebounds, 236 3-pointers
Entering the week, Oklahoma's Tony Crocker needed 30 boards to join the group.
Taking Care of the Ball
Coach Doc Sadler's teams at Nebraska have always been noted for their blue-collar work ethic and their attitude toward having a stalwart defense, but over the past couple years another area has become a trademark of a Sadler-led program: ball security.
Last season, the Cornhuskers ranked 18th nationally and first in the Big 12 Conference in turnovers per game, giving up the ball just 11.5 times per contest. NU was one of only two teams (also Texas) to give up less than 12 turnovers per game in Big 12 Conference play as the Huskers led the league with just 185 turnovers in league action (11.6 tpg).
}} This season, Nebraska is holding on to the ball nearly as well. NU entered the week ranked 34th nationally in turnovers per game, and comes into the Iowa State matchup averaging just 11.8 turnovers per contest.
}} Nebraska has been even better in its first two conference games as the Huskers are averaging just 11.0 turnovers per game in Big 12 play. NU ranks first in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5, 34 assists, 22 turnovers) in Big 12-only games, and is fourth in turnover margin at +1.5 entering the weekend.
}} The Huskers have turned the ball over seven or fewer times in four games, including two of their last five contests. Nebraska set this year's season low with four turnovers against Southern Utah, one off the Nebraska all-time single-game record of three (set twice, including once by a Sadler-led club in 2009). NU also had just six turnovers in the non-conference finale.
Defense Taking Shape
Coach Doc Sadler's squads have led the Big 12 Conference in scoring defense each of the past two seasons and ranked among the top 25 defenses in the country at the end of those years. After giving up 69 points at Saint Louis and 77 at home against TCU in the second and third games of this season, Sadler put the Cornhuskers back to work on the defensive end as they tried to continue their reputation for defensive dominance.
Sadler's efforts were rewarded as Nebraska held six of its next seven opponents to less than 55 points. The best mark came against Chicago State as the Huskers allowed only 39 points, the 10th fewest points given up by a Nebraska squad since 1947. It was the third time a Sadler-led Nebraska team held an opponent to less than 40 points.
}} Entering the weekend, the Husker defense is ranked first in the league by allowing 60.1 points per game. Nebraska entered the week ranked 14th nationally in scoring defense and will remain among the top 30 after giving up 84 points to No. 3 Kansas on Wednesday.
}} Earlier in the season, the Huskers had the nation's top-ranked defense as Nebraska entered the Las Vegas Classic on Dec. 22 allowing just 54.1 ppg. The Huskers held the distinction for just one week as they gave up 70 and 88 points, respectively, while splitting with Tulsa and BYU on a neutral court.
}} The magic mark under Sadler seems to be the 60-point plateau. Nebraska now has a sterling 45-4 record under Sadler when holding teams to 60 or fewer points, including an impressive 38-1 mark at home.
Huskers Finding the Mark
Nebraska coach Doc Sadler has said from Day One that he thought this team "could shoot the ball well," and through the first 17 games this season, they've proven their mentor right. The Huskers are hitting a solid 46.5 percent from the field midway through the season, including hitting at least 50.0 percent from the field six times so far this year.
Nebraska hit a season-high 55.6 percent against Chicago State and had its best half of the year against Southern Utah when it hit 67.9 percent (19-of-28) after the intermission. At Creighton on Dec. 6, the Huskers hit 50.0 percent (24-of-48) from the floor for its best effort on the road since last season at Texas Tech.
}} Part of the Huskers' offensive effectiveness has come behind solid shooting from beyond the arc, where Nebraska has nailed 116-of-281 from 3-point range (41.3 percent), including draining a season-high 12 treys (on 19 attempts) against Southeastern Louisiana in the non-conference finale.
}} Nebraska ranked 20th nationally in 3-point percentage entering the week, and will likely move up after hitting 52.4 percent against No. 3 Kansas on Wednesday. The Huskers have hit 23 3-pointers in their last two home contests combined (12 vs. Southeastern Louisiana; 11 vs. Kansas). Nebraska has now hit at least 40 percent from beyond the arc in five of its last seven games.
}} Nebraska's strong shooting from outside was also on display as it tied a Devaney Center record and set a team building record by hitting 75.0 percent (9-of-12) from 3-point range against Texas-Pan American on Dec. 2. The Huskers hit seven straight at one point and bettered Nebraska's previous building record of 66.7 percent set three times.
Redshirt freshman Jorge Brian Diaz quickly made a name for himself as he posted one of just three Husker 20-point games this season when he had 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting against TCU in his third career game. But it is on the defensive end that he is quickly - and quietly - looking like one of the top freshmen in school history.
Diaz currently leads NU with 25 blocked shots, and his 1.5 blocks per game are seventh in the Big 12 Conference on the season, where he is the top-ranked freshman. Diaz's 25 blocks in 17 games are seven more than NU's individual high last year (18 by Toney McCray) in 31 games.
}} Diaz already ranks third in the Nebraska freshman record book with his 25 blocks. The only two rookies to ever record more are Venson Hamilton (1996) and John Turek (2002), who hold the Nebraska freshman record with 39 blocks each in their initial season.
}} As a team, the Huskers own 57 blocked shots this season in 17 games, averaging 3.4 per game. Last year, Nebraska had just 52 blocks in 31 games.
The Cornhuskers have spread the scoring around this season with two players averaging double figures while seven other active Huskers are averaging at least 5.0 points per game. Much of that production has come from the bench, as Nebraska has a deeper roster than many recent seasons.
}} The Husker bench outscored opponents in each of the first eight games and 14 times overall this season. The top production came as Nebraska held a +28 advantage in bench scoring against Chicago State and NU has had three other games (TCU, +19; UTPA, +20; SUU, +21) with at least 19 more points off the bench than the opponent.
}} On the season, Nebraska has gotten 494 points from its bench. That's 42.4 percent of the production that has come from outside the starting lineup.
}} The most points by a Husker off the bench this year is 22 by Jorge Brian Diaz, who went 9-of-10 against TCU, while Eshaunte Jones added 21 points, including five 3-pointers, in a loss to BYU. Brandon Richardson also had 18 points off the bench against No. 3 Kansas.
Coach Doc Sadler has said that he's been trying to find ways to get his team to be more aggressive since the start of practice in September, letting them know that he wants them going after other teams and not sitting back and waiting for opponents to come at them. Senior guards Sek Henry and Ryan Anderson have each had a turn taking the coach's words to heart this season while leading their team to victory.
}} Henry's strong play was highlighted against TCU as he distributed the ball efficiently, posting a career-best 11 assists, becoming the first Husker since Charles Richardson Jr. (15 at Rutgers in 2006) to post more than 10 assists in a game. Overall, Henry's assist total ranks second on the Nebraska single-game chart for the Big 12 era, and ties for the ninth-best total by a Husker in any game since the 1983-84 season.
}} Along with his 11 assists, Henry posted 11 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots in 30 minutes of action. He missed the school's first regular-season triple-double by three rebounds. The only known triple-double by a Husker came when Brennon Clemmons had 12 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in an exhibition game in 2002 vs. Northwest Sports Tours. In the 15 years before that, the closest a Husker came to a triple-double in a game that counted was Beau Reid's 14-point, 12-rebound, 8-assist performance against Toledo in 1990.
}} Henry came back the next contest against UMKC to produce a game-high 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including drilling both of his 3-point attempts. The treys came less than 30 seconds apart and started a game-changing 21-5 run to end the first half. Henry added five rebounds, four assists and two blocks against the Kanagroos.
}} Anderson had his first moment against Texas-Pan American on Dec. 2, as he helped bust the game open in the middle of the second half. After UTPA pulled within five, 45-40, Anderson guided Nebraska on a 22-2 run to put the game out of reach, scoring 11 points while adding three steals, two rebounds and an assist in less than four minutes. He finished the game with 21 points, the second-highest scoring effort of his career, on 8-of-9 shooting as Nebraska pulled away for an 81-53 win.
}} The Seattle, Wash., native added another veteran contest as he produced 16 points and a career-high 14 rebounds in the Huskers' 50-44 victory over Oregon State. Anderson had seven rebounds in the first eight minutes of the game and collected his final one of the night with less than five seconds remaining. He was fouled after grabbing the board and hit two free throws for the final margin, helping Nebraska defeat its second Pac-10 team of the season.
Off to the Races
Nebraska has shown the potential to be an efficient force on the offensive end with its revamped roster. One of the prime examples came as the Huskers posted 90 points against TCU. It was the first time NU topped the 90-point plateau since 2006 when the Huskers earned a 93-77 victory over Colorado.
The Husker offense was running in high gear against the Horned Frogs as Nebraska hit 54.0 percent (27-of-50) from the field. The trend has continued as Nebraska has hit at least 50.0 percent from the field in five games at the Devaney Center, and six games overall.
}} The Huskers scored 81 points against Texas-Pan American on Dec. 2 while hitting 53.7 percent from the field, including tying the Devaney Center record by hitting 75.0 percent (9-of-12) from 3-point range. In Nebraska's 74-39 win over Chicago State on Dec. 10, the Huskers hit a season-high 55.6 percent.
}} Against Southern Utah, Nebraska moved NU to 31-3 - including 29-0 at home - under Sadler when connecting on 50.0 percent of its shots from the floor as it nailed 54.1 percent from the field, including 67.9 percent (19-of-28) in the second half. The Huskers won the contest 94-61, making it the Huskers' highest-scoring game in the Doc Sadler era at Nebraska while also helping NU improve to 17-0 under Sadler when reaching at least 80 points.
}} Nebraska scored at least 70 points in each of its first five home games this season (9-of-11 at home overall). Last year it took nine games at the Devaney Center before the Huskers recorded their fifth 70-point effort.
}} To date, Nebraska has 10 70-point efforts this season after posting 24 70-point games over the past two years (12 each season). Overall, the Huskers have reached the 70-point plateau in four of the last five contests, including posting 72 points against No. 3 Kansas, which entered the game with the second-rated scoring defense in the Big 12 Conference by allowing just over 60 points per game.
Nebraska has won the rebounding advantage nine times this season, including eight times at home. The Huskers are 9-0 in those contests. In five games away from Lincoln, Nebraska was outrebounded by USC, Creighton and BYU and tied with Saint Louis. NU picked up its only rebounding win away from Lincoln when it held a 33-27 advantage over Tulsa in the Las Vegas Classic.
NU started the season on a strong note as it held a 39-27 rebounding advantage in the season opener against South Carolina Upstate. The total against USCU was the best for the Huskers since last season's opener when NU had 42 rebounds vs. San Jose State and the +12 advantage was also better than all but one game last year (+14 vs. Florida A&M).
Nebraska came back to post 35 boards against both Saint Louis and TCU, giving the Huskers three straight games of at least 35 rebounds for the first time since the final three games of non-conference play in the 2007-08 campaign. Last year, the Huskers did not have consecutive games with at least 35 rebounds.
}} Nebraska posted a season-high 41 rebounds against each Chicago State and Jackson State. Overall, the Huskers have recorded at least 35 rebounds in five games, after reaching the mark in only six games all of last year.
}} In the regular-season opener, Jorge Brian Diaz had 11 rebounds to go with nine points in his first career game. He added a second double-figure rebounding game with 12 boards against Chicago State. At the time, Diaz's season high was the most by a Husker since 2007-08 as NU did not have a player with a double-double last season. Ryan Anderson had the team's high for single-game rebounds last year with 10 boards against Missouri on Jan. 10, when he had just eight points.
}} Along with Diaz, Ryan Anderson and Myles Holley have each had a double-figure rebounding game this season. Anderson had a career-best and team-season high 14 rebounds to go with 16 points in a win over Oregon State while Holley had his first double-figure rebounding game with 11 boards and seven points against Southern Utah.
Nebraska has had season-ending injuries to two players - Toney McCray and Christopher Niemann - who could have each earned starting roles this year. Add on to that the fact that eight of Nebraska's 13 scholarships are held by freshmen and sophomores, and it's easy to see why one of the least experienced teams in the Big 12 has had to rely on a number of youngsters in the early portion of the season.
Two of those players - redshirt freshmen Jorge Brian Diaz and Eshaunte Jones - have shown promise as they had performances that stack up among the best in NU freshman history.
}} Diaz made his presence felt early and often as the Huskers raced past TCU on Nov. 21 in a 90-77 victory, just one game after he took an elbow to the face and had a pair of front teeth knocked loose and suffered a cut inside his mouth in the opening minute at Saint Louis. The Caguas, Puerto Rico, native set a team season high with 22 points vs. TCU as Nebraska reached the 90-point plateau for the first time since 2006.
}} Against TCU, Diaz connected on 9-of-10 shots from the floor, with only a first-half miss keeping him from the NU record book. The Husker single-game record for most field-goals attempted without a miss is nine set on five occasions, including last year by Ade Dagunduro. Diaz's .900 shooting percentage is the third highest single-game mark by a Big 12 player this season.
}} Diaz became the first freshman since Sek Henry in 2006 to post a 20-point contest for the Huskers. Henry's outburst that season came one day after Ryan Anderson put his name on the list with 29 points, the second-highest total by a Husker freshman ever.
}} Jones followed as he produced 21 points on 6-of-11 shooting in a loss to BYU in the HoopTV Las Vegas Classic. He hit 5-of-7 3-point attempts while adding three rebounds and two assists without a turnover.
}} Overall, Diaz and Jones are the 21st and 22nd freshmen to record a 20-point game for the Huskers since freshmen were reinstated by the NCAA for the 1972-73 season. Joe McCray set the record with the most 20-point games by a Husker freshman when he had 10 contests with at least 20 points in 2004-05. Only six Husker freshmen in history have had multiple 20-point contests.
Taking the Shot
With so many new faces on the squad, it was only a matter of time before one of the youngsters was asked to step up and make a game-changing play. At USC on Nov. 29, it was more than just a game-changing play... it was a game-deciding shot.
}} Redshirt freshman Eshaunte Jones, playing in his ninth career game, had made just two field goals in the first half and had only been off the bench for a total of five minutes in the second period before being called upon with less than a minute to play in a tie game. Jones didn't hesitate as the buried the game-winning shot from the corner, a 3-pointer with 11.7 seconds remaining. The shot was reviewed at length by the officials who determined it was indeed a 3-pointer. From there, the Huskers defended the perimeter well and USC only managed to get off an off-balance desperation shot at the buzzer.
}} Jones finished the USC game with seven points, and his 3-pointer gave the Huskers their first road win of the season, and just the second true road win over a non-conference opponent under fourth-year coach Doc Sadler. It was NU's first road victory over a non-conference BCS team since defeating Tennessee, 62-61, in Knoxville in 2004.
}} Jones also led the Huskers in scoring in both games at the HoopTV Las Vegas Classic just before Christmas. He posted 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting, all from 3-point range, to lead the Huskers to a victory over Tulsa, and came back a night later to record a career-best 21 points. He hit 6-of-11 shots from the field with five made baskets from 3-point range (seven attempts).
}} Jones leads the Big 12 Conference in 3-point percentage as he has connected on 46.2 percent (30-of-65) from beyond the arc this year. His 30 3-pointers tie for eighth on the NU freshman top 10 list.
50 is the New 60
Nebraska has made it a habit of holding teams to 50 points or less since coach Doc Sadler took over in 2006-07. Since his arrival, the Huskers have held opponents to 50 or fewer points 22 times. In the first 10 years of the Big 12 era before Sadler arrived, Nebraska managed the feat on 26 occasions.
The most times NU has held teams to 50 or fewer points in a season under Sadler is nine times in 2007-08. This season, the Huskers have already held six teams below 50 points. That defensive effort has helped the Huskers allow just 58.6 points per game, an average that ranks first in the Big 12 Conference and is among the national leaders.
}} During Nebraska's three home games between Dec. 10 and Dec. 19, the Huskers held all three teams to 44 or fewer points, including 39 points by Chicago State, 44 by Oregon State and 41 by Jackson State. The 39 points by Chicago State tied for the 10th lowest point total allowed by the Huskers since 1947.
}} The last time a Nebraska squad matched a streak of three straight games holding teams to below 45 points was the 1943 season. In fact, the last time the Cornhuskers even held three straight teams to below 50 points was 1958 as NU won three straight games over Colorado (41 points), No. 4 Kansas (41 points) and No. 1 Kansas State (48) as part of a four-game win streak.
}} Dating to the 2007-08 season, Nebraska has held seven of its last 11 Big 12 Conference opponents in the Devaney Center to 57 or fewer points, including three times under 50 points. NU held six teams 57 or fewer points in Big 12 play last year, including Missouri (51), Kansas State (51), at Colorado (53), Texas (55), Colorado (41) and Texas A&M (57).
Niemann, McCray Out for Season
After making what looked to be a successful return from a torn ACL suffered in the final week of the regular season last year, 6-10, 265-pound sophomore center Christopher Niemann had a major setback as he tore the same ACL for a second time in the first week of September. After surgery to repair the damage that occurred during a non-basketball conditioning workout, Niemann will be out for all of the 2009-10 campaign.
Niemann is currently making good progress through rehab again, and is on pace to join the team for offseason workouts in late spring. He will have three years remaining on his original eligibility clock to play three seasons with the Huskers.
}} Nebraska coach Doc Sadler announced following Nebraska's game against UMKC on Nov. 24 that sophomore guard Toney McCray would have surgery on his elbow and be out for the remainder of the season. McCray injured the elbow in a pickup game in early September, sustaining a torn ligament. McCray tried to play through the pain as doctors assured him that it would get no worse if he waited until after the season to have surgery. But Sadler said that McCray indicated he had little confidence in his elbow and wasn't able to help the team the way he wanted to, and thought it would be better to have surgery now and be ready for the offseason in the spring of 2010.
McCray had successful surgery on Dec. 7 to repair the UCL in his elbow. He started rehab that week and is doing well, as he is on pace to try to join the team in the spring during offseason workouts.
}} Both Niemann and McCray were looked at as possible starters heading into the start of the season. McCray averaged 6.3 points and 4.0 rebounds over three games this year, hitting 53.3 percent (8-of-15) from the field. He played 18.3 minutes per game. Niemann has yet to play a game in a Husker uniform.
Nebraska Receives Rare Waiver
Nebraska petitioned the NCAA with a waiver that was granted in early September, allowing the Huskers to have 14 players on scholarship for the 2009-10 season. The rare allowance given to NU is only for this season and Nebraska will be required to return to 13 scholarships for the 2010-11 season.
While the Huskers were able to receive the waiver, there was one stipulation as it said that one player had to redshirt this season to get the active roster down to 13 scholarship players. Unfortunately with Christopher Niemann's preseason injury, he is out for the year and it was determined that he would count as the one who would count toward that provision.
}} While NU received the extra scholarship, it enters Big 12 play already down to the 13-scholarship limit, including only 11 active scholarship players. Toney McCray and Christopher Niemann are out for the season with injury, while freshman Adrien Coleman transfered out of the program at the end of the first semester.
}} Nebraska has two seniors leaving it with 11 scholarship players eligible to return next season. In the fall, the Huskers signed 6-11, 315-pound Brazilian center Andre Almeida, who is in his second and final season playing for Arizona Western College this season.
New Faces Line Husker Roster
While the Huskers will rely on three returning scholarship players for leadership - seniors Ryan Anderson and Sek Henry, and sophomore Brandon Richardson - most of the eyes will be focused on the faces of several newcomers who dot the inexperienced Nebraska roster.
}} Among the scholarship newcomers who have seen action for the first time in their Husker careers this season are juniors Lance Jeter and Quincy Hankins-Cole, sophomore Myles Holley, redshirt freshman Jorge Brian Diaz and freshmen Ray Gallegos and Brandon Ubel. Freshman Adrien Coleman also played in the first semester before transfering at the holiday break.
}} Freshman Christian Standhardinger, who was forced to sit out the first 15 games of the season because of an NCAA amateurism ruling, became eligible for the league opener at Texas A&M. He is the eighth scholarship Husker to play his first game for Nebraska this season.
}} Including walk-ons Matt Karn and Mike Fox, more than 60 percent (9 of 14 active players; 64.2 percent) of the Huskers who have recorded time during the regular season are playing for the first time in a Nebraska uniform this year. Another Husker - Eshaunte Jones - played only four games last year before an injury forced him to redshirt.
2009-10 Scholarship Breakdown
Seniors: 2 (returnees Sek Henry and Ryan Anderson)
Juniors: 2 (transfers Lance Jeter and Quincy Hankins-Cole)
Sophomores: 4 (returnees Toney McCray, Brandon Richardson and Christopher Niemann*; newcomer Myles Holley)
Redshirt Freshmen: 2 (Eshaunte Jones and Jorge Brian Diaz)
True Freshmen: 3 (Brandon Ubel, Ray Gallegos, Christian Standhardinger)
*sat out last season per NCAA ruling on amateur status; has not played at Nebraska
While Nebraska entered the season knowing it will have a number of young players in the lineup on any given night, it did not realize it would have two of the youngest players in their respective classes.
}} Freshman Brandon Ubel is the third-youngest player overall in the Big 12 Conference this season. Born on Aug. 29, 1991, only Jaye Crockett of Texas Tech (Oct. 16, 1991) and Tyler Stone of Missouri (Sept. 8, 1991) are younger than Ubel.
}} While Ubel is one of the youngest in the league, another Husker is the youngest for his class. Junior college transfer Quincy Hankins-Cole, who graduated high school when he was 16 and played the past two years at Polk (Fla.) CC, will not turn 20 years old until Feb. 18, 2010. The next youngest junior in the Big 12 is Kansas State's Jacob Pullen, who turned 20 on Nov. 10. In fact, Hankins-Cole is three months younger than redshirt-freshman Jorge Brian Diaz, who turned 20 on Nov. 13.
Huskers Look to Build on 8-8 League Mark
Heading into Big 12 Conference action, the Huskers had one thing in mind despite facing 16 games in arguably the nation's toughest conference: continuing their upward momentum against Big 12 foes.
}} Last year, the Huskers finished with an 8-8 record in Big 12 Conference play, their best mark in a decade and just the third time since the formation of the league that NU has finished at .500 or better. The mark came as the Huskers won each of their last two regular-season games, giving Nebraska its third straight season with an improved league mark. NU had six league wins in 2007 and seven in 2008.
}} Only three teams in the Big 12 have improved their win total in league play each of the past three years. That small group includes Nebraska, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
}} This year, Nebraska will try to do something done only once before in program history as the only other time the Huskers improved their conference win total for four straight years was from 1952 to 1955.