2011-12 Record: 8-7 (0-4 Big Ten)
Head coach: Doc Sadler
Record at Nebraska: 97-78 (6th year)
Record at Division I: 145-96 (8th year)
Career Record: 265-135 (14th year)
PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS
2011-12 Record: 9-8 (1-3 Big Ten)
Head Coach: Patrick Chambers
Record at Penn State: 9-8 (1st year)
Career Record: 52-36 (3rd year)
HUSKERS ON TV/RADIO/INTERNET
Television: Big Ten Network
(Ch. 610 on DirecTV; Chs. 439, 9500 on DISH; Chs. 24
and 333-SH, 1333-HD on Time Warner Cable; Chs. 80
SD, 1080-HD on Cox Cable)
Play-by-play: Eric Collins
Color: Shon Morris
Radio: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network
(including KLIN 1400 AM in Lincoln; KFAB 1110 AM in Omaha; KRVN 880 AM in Lexington)
Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka
Color: Matt Davison
Internet Radio/Stats: Free on Huskers.com
Satellite Radio: SIRIUS 128
- $1 Pepsi Products (24 ounces)
- Red Zone Bring a Friend Night (Red Zone members can bring another UNL Student to Wednesday's game with a valid NCard). Red Zone members can also win a Samsung Galaxy Tablet courtesy of Verizon during Wednesday's game
Huskers Return Home for Penn State
The Nebraska men's basketball team looks for its first Big Ten win Wednesday night, as the Huskers host Penn State at the Devaney Center. Tip off for the tilt between the Huskers and Nittany Lions is set for 7:30 p.m. (central).
Tickets for Wednesday's game start at $10 and can be purchased by visiting Huskers.com/tickets, calling 800-8-BIGRED, or at the Devaney Ticket Office beginning at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. All fans in attendance for the Penn State game can purchase 24 ounce Pepsi products for $1, as Wednesday's deal is the first of several concession specials during the Big Ten season.
Wednesday's game will be televised nationally on the Big Ten Network with Eric Collins and Shon Morris on the call. The game will also be available on BTN.com and the BTN2Go App on select mobile devices.
The Nebraska-Penn State game will also be carried across Nebraska on the 30-station IMG Husker Sports Radio Network with Kent Pavelka and Matt Davison calling all of the action. The game can also be heard on the Internet at Huskers.com and season audio packages are also available for purchase on the Huskers' App for your iPhone or iPod
While the Huskers (8-7, 0-4 Big Ten) dropped their fourth straight game on Saturday, a 59-54 setback at Illinois, the Huskers received encouraging news with the return of Jorge Brian Diaz and Dylan Talley, who both missed the last five games, including Nebraska's first three Big Ten games, because of injuries. Diaz totaled nine points and three rebounds in his first game since Dec. 10, while Talley added six points in 28 mniutes before fouling out.
As a team, the Huskers shot 50 percent for the first time in conference play and out-rebounded a Fighting Illini team, 24-20 that had out-rebounded each of its previous Big Ten foes, but Nebraska was done in by a season-high 20 turnovers, which were converted into 17 Fighting Illini points.
The Huskers are facing a Penn State team that may be playing its best basketball of the season. The Nittany Lions are 9-8 on the season following an 88-82 loss to No. 12 Indiana on Sunday afternoon and had a 65-45 win over Purdue on Thursday evening. PSU is led by one of the best guards in the Big Ten in junior Tim Frazier, who tops the Nittany Lions and ranks among Big Ten leaders in scoring (17.4 ppg, second), assists (6.8 apg, first) steals (2.2 spg, second) and rebounds (5.4 rpg, 14th).
Husker Tip Off
- The return of Jorge Brian Diaz and Dylan Talley helped the Husker offense on Saturday, as Nebraska shot 50 percent in the loss at Illinois. In the 10 games they have played, Nebraska has averaged over 12 points more per contest and shot at a significantly higher rate than the five games they missed.
- Brandon Richardson has 122 career steals and enters Wednesday's game needing six steals to break into Nebraska's career top-10 list. His 31 steals this season matches his entire 31-game total of a year ago and is four shy of his career best set in 2009-10.
Last Time Out
Joseph Bertrand scored 17 of his career-high 25 points in the second half, as Illinois rallied for a 59-54 victory.
Nebraska (8-7, 0-4 Big Ten) overcame a five-point second half deficit and used an 11-2 run to build a 45-40 lead with 8:48 remaining, but could not hold on down the stretch en route to its fourth straight loss.
The Huskers had a chance to take the lead in the final 1:30, as Nebraska had the ball with the score tied at 54. NU ran a set play for Bo Spencer to go backdoor on a layup, but Nebraska turned the ball over, giving Illinois the ball. On the ensuing possession, Bertrand drove the lane and got his shot off before running into Toney McCray for a charge, as his basket with 56.4 seconds left gave the Illini the lead for good at 56-54. After McCray missed both free throws, Brandon Ubel gave NU another opportunity as he snared the offensive rebound with 50.1 seconds left.
The Huskers tried to get Spencer a look from 3-point range after a timeout, but his shot hit the rim and Brandon Paul got the long rebound and was intentionally fouled by Brandon Richardson with 21 seconds left. Paul, who finished with 11 points and six rebounds, hit both free throws to give Illinois (14-3, 3-1 Big Ten) some breathing room.
Spencer's 13 points led three Huskers in double figures, as Nebraska shot 50 percent and out-rebounded Illinois, 24-20, but committed a season-high 20 turnovers which led to 17 Fighting Illini points. McCray added 12 while Richardson had 10 points and three steals. Bertrand carried the Fighting Illini offense, hitting 11-of-12 shots from the field, as Nebraska held Meyers Leonard to just seven points in 24 minutes.
Scouting Penn State
The Nittany Lions come into tonight's game with a 9-8 record following an 88-82 loss against No. 12 Indiana on Sunday afternoon. PSU won five of its first six games with the only setback coming against then-No. 2 Kentucky at the Hall of Fame Classic. Penn State was 6-3 following a win over Boston College before dropping three straight, all by six points or less before breaking the streak with a 29-point win over Mount St. Mary's on Dec. 18. Since then, PSU is 3-3, including a 65-45 win over Purdue on Jan. 5, for its first Big Ten win.
Penn State is coached by Patrick Chambers, who is in his first season in State College. For the previous two seasons, he was the coach at Boston University, going 42-28 with a pair of 20-win seasons, including an appearance in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Prior to that, he served as an assistant coach at Villanova under Jay Wright.
The Nittany Lions feature one of the Big Ten's best players in junior Tim Frazier. The 6-foot-1 guard leads the Big Ten in assists (6.8) and ranks in the top three in both scoring (17.4) and steals (2.2) while topping the team in rebounding (5.4). Frazier already has a conference-best seven 20-point efforts this season, including a 21-point effort against Indiana. Jermaine Marshall gives PSU a second player in double figures, as he averages 10.4 points per game following a 20-point effort against Indiana. Cammeron Woodyard and Billy Oliver both average 7.8 points per game, while providing most of the offense in the Lions' nine-man rotation. Oliver had a team-high 21 points in the win over Purdue on Jan. 5.
Nebraska-Penn State Series
Wednesday's meeting is only the fourth in school history between the Huskers and Nittany Lions - the two most recent members of the Big Ten - and the first since the 1994-95 season. The two teams played a home-and-home series in the early 1980s with Nebraska winning 75-50 at the Devaney Center on Dec. 9, 1980, before the Nittany Lions won 60-58 in State College in Dec. 21, 1981. The most recent matchup took place in the second round of the 1995 NIT at the Devaney Center when Nebraska built a 12-point second half lead, only to fall, 65-59. Mikki Moore led Nebraska with 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting and six rebounds, while Jaron Boone also finished in double figures for the Huskers with 11 points. Rahsan Carlton had 19 points to lead four Penn State players in double figures, as the Nittany Lions, who closed the game on a 10-3 run, hit 12 3-pointers in the win.
With an 0-4 start to conference action, the Huskers can look back to the 2007-08 team for inspiration. That team, which included Toney McCray and Brandon Richardson as true freshmen, began 0-4 in Big 12 play, including a pair of losses to nationally ranked teams, before turning the corner. That team won seven of its final 12 conference games en route to a 20-13 season and a berth in the NIT.
Huskers Battle Through Injuries
Not only have the Huskers faced a rough Big Ten schedule to open conference play, but did so without two of their top four scorers in Jorge Brian Diaz and Dylan Talley. Diaz, who was averaging 10.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game, missed five games because of a foot injury. At the time of his injury, he was leading the Big Ten in blocked shots and was second on the team in rebounding. He returned on Saturday against Illinois, finishing with nine points and three rebounds in 23 minutes.
Talley, who was NU's sixth man, was third on the squad in scoring at 9.1 points per game while also chipping in 3.6 rebounds per game prior to missing the last five contests with a thigh injury. Talley also returned to practice last week and played 28 minutes against Illinois, scoring six points before fouling out.
The return of Diaz and Talley gave NU increased depth, as the Husker bench finished with 15 points after averaging just 6.6 points from their bench in the previous five contests.
Spencer Makes the Point for the Huskers
While Nebraska returned four starters from a team that won 19 games last season, the loss of point guard Lance Jeter was a significant one. An All-Big 12 performer, Jeter led the Huskers in both scoring and assists in 2010-11.
Luckily for the Huskers, they already had a veteran point guard on the roster, as senior Bo Spencer sat out last season after transferring from LSU. He has been a solid performer during the first half of the season, averaging 14.6 points, 3.7 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game, while shooting a team-high 87.5 percent from the foul line.
Spencer has been an iron man for the Huskers, averaging 33.5 minutes per game which is the highest total by a Husker since Charles Richardson in 2006-07 (36.3 minutes per game) and his 14.6 ppg is on pace to be the highest scoring average by a Husker guard in seven years.
Spencer has reached double figures a team-high 12 times, including four 20-point performances, which is the most by a Husker since the 2008-09 season.
He has struggled at times in Big Ten play, averaging 10.8 points per game while shooting 31 percent. Spencer showed signs of breaking out on Saturday, going 5-of-10 from the floor at Illinois, including 3-of-7 from 3-point range.
He enjoyed his best offensive game of the year at Creighton on Dec. 4, pouring in 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting and adding five rebounds in the highest scoring effort by a Husker since 2007-08.
Spencer led Nebraska to a road win at TCU on Dec. 10, hitting 7-of-12 shots, including four 3-pointers, in NU's 69-57 victory. That performance was highlighted by a 65-footer to beat the halftme buzzer.
At USC on Nov. 14, he had 22 points, including the tying basket in overtime and the go-ahead bucket in double overtime, and also tied a personal best with seven rebounds. Against Rhode Island on Nov. 20, he had 23 points while shooting 8-of-13 from the floor, four assists and three steals. Against South Dakota State on Nov. 26, Spencer had a then-career-high eight assists along with 18 points and six rebounds as he out-played Nate Wolters. He enjoyed a strong night against Central Michigan on Dec. 20, when he dished out a career-high nine assists and tied for team-high honors with 15 points. Spencer came off the bench against No. 16 Michigan State, leading the Huskers with 15 points in his best offensive performance in Big Ten play.
Before coming to Nebraska, he started two seasons at LSU, averaging 14.5 points, 2.7 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game in 2009-10. Spencer showed the ability to get to the basket, putting up 11 games of at least 20 points, including a season-high 28-point effort against Western Kentucky and back-to-back 25-point contests against Kentucky and Tennessee. In his three-year LSU career, he reached double figures in 45 of 93 career contests, including 21 times as a junior. Spencer was the starting point guard on LSU's Southeastern Conference championship squad in 2008-09, as the Tigers reached the second round before falling to eventual champion North Carolina.
McCray Enjoyed Starting Role
Fifth-year senior Toney McCray has overcome a slow start to play some of the best basketball of his career in 2011-12. The 6-foot-6 senior was hampered by surgery on his feet over the summer and a toe injury in October, but has rebounded to enjoy a breakout senior year. He is setting career bests in scoring (10.5 ppg), rebounding (4.7 rpg) and field goal percentage (51.7 pct.), while also shooting 39 percent from 3-point range.
McCray, who averaged just 3.8 points per game in Nebraska's first four games, is averaging 12.9 points since then and has been in double figures in nine of the last 11 games.
He has really excelled since he moved into the starting lineup after an injury to Jorge Brian Diaz in mid-December, leading the Huskers in scoring (14.3 ppg) and rebounding (6.8) over the last six games. He has been in double figures in each of those games, which is the longest stretch of his career. Prior to this season, his longest stretch of games in double figures was four games (Feb. 26-March 9, 2011). The stretch began with a 20-point, seven-rebound effort against Alcorn State on Dec. 17, and had 16 points and nine rebounds against No. 11 Wisconsin on Dec. 27. McCray led NU with 13 points and five rebounds at No. 6 Ohio State and totaled 12 points and six rebounds at Illinois on Saturday.
Earlier this season, McCray had three straight games where he tied or set season highs, including 15 points and five rebounds at No. 22 Creighton on Dec. 4. He also had 12 points in Nebraska's games against South Dakota and Wake Forest and 16 points against No. 16 Michigan State last Saturday.
McCray may have made his biggest contributions from the foul line in the double overtime win at USC on Nov. 14. A career 61 percent shooter from the line entering his senior year, McCray hit four clutch free throws at USC - two in the final minute of regulation and a pair with 2.8 seconds remaining in overtime - for his only points of the night in NU's 65-61 double overtime win. McCray is up to a career-best 69 percent this season from the line.
Richardson is Huskers' Glue Guy
While senior guard Brandon Richardson doesn't lead the Huskers in any offensive category, his versatility is his greatest asset. The fifth-year senior averages 6.9 points, 2.9 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game, while he leads Nebraska and ranks third in the Big Ten in steals (2.1 per game).
Richardson enters this week's action in second place among active Big Ten players in career steals, and he is on pace to become the first Husker since Cookie Belcher in 2000-01 to average more than two steals per game. Belcher, who holds three of the top four totals in school history, still ranks fourth in NCAA history with 353.
Richardson enjoyed one of his best weeks of the season last week, averaging 10.5 points per game on 60 percent shooting and 5.0 steals per game in the losses to No. 6 Ohio State and Illinois. Richardson was in double figures in both contests, the first time he has done that since the opening two games of the season. At Ohio State, he totaled 11 points and a career-high seven steals, the league's single-game high in 2011-12.
The 6-foot senior came up big in his return home to Los Angeles on Nov. 14, totaling 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point range in the Huskers' overtime win at USC. He matched his career best with four 3-pointers and dished out a pair of assists, including the game-tying basket in double overtime. Against Rhode Island on Nov. 20, he keyed a Husker defense which held Jamal Wilson to 14 points after averaging 31 points in the Rams first two games and set then-career highs in both assists (eight) and steals (four).
Richardson had his best offensive game of the year in the non-conference finale against Central Michigan on Dec. 20, finishing with a season-high 15 points and three assists. He has been aggressive at getting to the foul line in recent games, taking 16 free throw attempts in the last five games after having 15 in the Huskers' first 10 games.
Throughout his career, Richardson has been clutch from the free throw line, as he ranks third in school history with an 83.3 career percentage from the charity stripe and is one of only four players in program history to shoot over 80 percent for a career. This year, he is hitting a career-best 89.5 percent from the foul line.
Last year, he was second in Big 12 action in league play, hitting 87.8 of his free throws, including a stretch of 25 consecutive made free throws. Throughout his career, he has been his best in late-game situations, going 77-of-82 from the foul line in the final five minutes of games, a remarkable 94 percent.
Taking Advantage at the Stripe
One area where the Huskers have been proficient is at the free throw line, where Nebraska's 76.5 percent rate leads the Big Ten and is in the top-10 nationally entering this week's action.
It is on track to be one of the best seasons in school history, as only two Husker teams have shot over 75 percent since 1948, led by the 1967-68 team which was third nationally when they hit a school-record 76.5 percent from the line. Prior to this season, NU's best season under Doc Sadler was 71.3 percent during the 2006-07 campaign.
Here is some quick facts on Nebraska's prowess from the line.
- Nebraska has shot 70 percent or better from the line in 12 of 15 contests, as the Illinois game marked the first time since Dec. 7, that Nebraska did not shoot 70 percent from the foul line.
- Nebraska's 77.2 free throw percentage is on pace to be one of the top-10 free throw percentages in Big Ten Conference history (the 2005-06 MSU team is 10th at 76.9 percent).
- Nebraska has ranked in the top-10 nationally in free throw percentage two times in school history (1993-94 and 1967-68).
- Three Huskers are shooting over 80 percent from the line this season, Bo Spencer (87.5 percent), Brandon Richardson (87.1 percent) and Dylan Talley (85.7 percent).
- Spencer and Richardson are both on pace to be Nebraska's best free throw shooters since Cary Cochran led the nation at 92.2 percent in 2001-02.
- The Huskers have been at their best in the clutch, hitting 82 percent (51-of-62) from the line in the last five minutes of games this season.
One thing Sadler has stressed is getting to the free throw line more often, as Nebraska has averaged 18.5 attempts in its eight wins, but just 13.5 attempts in its seven losses. The Huskers got to to the line 19 times against Illinois, but shot just 69 percent, their lowest total since Dec. 7.
Diaz Becoming Consistent Inside Force
Junior center Jorge Brian Diaz has been a steady presence for the Huskers throughout his three-year career, and his presence was felt in his absence over the last month. The 6-foot-11 center is one of three Huskers averaging double figures with 10.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game and made his return to action on Saturday after missing the last five contests. He finished with nine points and three rebounds, helping the Huskers shoot 50 percent against the Fighting Illini.
Offensively, he has been in double figures five times and now has 36 career games in double figures. He ranks 56th on Nebraska's career scoring list with 725 points.
Defensively, he would lead the Big Ten in blocked shots, but has not played enough games to qualify for league rankings, as he has had three or more blocks in five of his 10 games. Diaz, who has 103 career blocked shots became the ninth Husker to record 100 blocks with his three blocks at TCU on Dec. 10..
He tied his career high with five blocks in the one-point win over Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 7, joining Illinois' Meyers Leonard and Michigan State's Draymond Green as the only Big Ten players with two games with at least five blocked shots this season.
Diaz enjoyed one of the best offensive games of his career against Oregon on Nov. 23, finishing with a game-high 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting, six rebounds and three blocks. He had eight of his points in a 22-7 run to help the Huskers erase a 15-point deficit before succumbing in the final minute. It was his third career 20-point effort and first since his freshman year. He nearly recorded a double-double at Creighton on Dec. 4 with 10 points and seven rebounds while also blocking a pair of shots. He turned in a strong effort at USC on Nov. 14 when he nearly recorded a double-double with 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots in a career-high 43 minutes. He also played a major role in holding USC's Dewayne Dedmon to four points on 1-of-6 shooting. Against South Dakota in the season opener, he finished with 11 points and a career-high five blocked shots, which equaled the highest single-game blocked shot total in the last six years.
Throughout his career, Diaz has been a scoring threat, as the 6-foot-11 junior is only the third Husker returnee to average in double figures under Sadler, joining Aleks Maric and Ryan Anderson in 2007-08. He is now 266 points away from becoming the 26th Husker to score 1,000 points.
Talley Provides Instant Offense
When Doc Sadler talked about the addition of Dylan Talley, the thing he constantly mentioned was his ability to score. Talley has lived up to the billing, coming off the bench to average 8.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in just 22.5 minutes of action. Talley returned to action against Illinois on Saturday and had six points before fouling out in his first action since Dec. 10, as Nebraska shot 50 percent as a team. Talley gives the Husker offense another shooter, as he is hitting 40 percent from 3-point range on the season.
Talley has shown the knack for the heroics, hitting a game-winning basket with 10.4 seconds remaining against Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 7, as part of a 14-point effort. The 6-foot-5 guard reached double figures in three straight games earlier this season, including a season-high 18 points, including four 3-pointers, four rebounds, four assists and three steals against Oregon on Nov. 23. Talley had 12 points and three rebounds against South Dakota State on Nov. 24, and totaled 15 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and five rebounds in 18 minutes against Rhode Island on Nov. 20.
Talley's adjustment may have been helped by the Division I experience he had when playing at Binghamton (N.Y.) University in 2009-10. That season, he was the America East Rookie of the Year and averaged 11.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Last year, he was an honorable-mention All-American at Blinn College, ranking sixth in the NJCAA in scoring at 23.0 points per game while also chipping in 5.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.
Ubel Doing the Dirty work Inside
One Husker who will benefit the most from the return of Jorge Brian Diaz is junior Brandon Ubel. The 6-foot-10 forward has been playing out of position, as Diaz was out with his foot injury. Ubel averaged 10.7 points and 8.0 rebounds in his first three games replacing Diaz, but has totaled just 14 points and six rebounds in Nebraska's last three games.
On the season, he is averaging 6.7 points and a team-high 5.7 rebounds per game, ranking 13th in the league in rebounds. Ubel tops all Big Ten players on the offensive glass, grabbing 2.8 rebounds per game. His best performance of the season was against Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 7 when he had a career-high 11 rebounds and 10 points for his first career double-double. That began a five-game stretch where he averaged 9.6 points and and 8.6 rebounds, including 13 points and eight rebounds in the win over Alcorn State, 11 points and seven rebounds against Central Michigan and eight points and nine rebounds against No. 11 Wisconsin.
Ubel looks to regain the form he ended the 2010-11 season with when he averaged 10.0 points on 58 percent shooting and 6.3 rebounds over the Huskers final four games - all against postseason teams. Those numbers were well above his 2010-11 season averages of 6.1 points and 3.7 rebounds per contest.
This Day in Nebraska Basketball History
Nebraska is 11-8 all-time on Jan. 11, and is playing on this date for the first time since a 57-42 win over Kansas State in 2006. The Huskers have won five of their last six times on this date dating back to 1986. The 1913 game against Cotner was the Huskers' season opener that season, a year Nebraska went 10-0 in the Missouri Valley Conference en route to a 17-2 record that season.
Welcome to the Big Ten
Nebraska began its inaugural Big Ten slate with one of the toughest stretches in conference history. The Huskers opened conference action with No. 11 Wisconsin, No. 16 Michigan State and No. 6 Ohio State in its first three conference contests. It marked the first time in school history that Nebraska has opened conference action with three straight ranked foes. In fact, it is only the fourth time in the last eight years that any Big Ten school has faced three straight ranked teams to start league play.
While Nebraska is 0-3 in the nation's top league according to the RPI, the Huskers will have several more opportunities to knock off ranked foes this month. Five of the Huskers' first eight Big Ten games are against ranked teams, including upcoming games against fifth-ranked Ohio State and No. 7 Indiana.
Home Sweet Home
Nebraska has been strong on its home court over the years, and have enjoyed an impressive home run under Coach Doc Sadler. In the past six seasons under Sadler, Nebraska has dominated to the tune of a 77-24 record (.762 winning percentage). The Huskers are now 6-4 at the Devaney Center and will look to snap a two-game home losing streak on Jan. 11, against Penn State.
Last year, Nebraska tied a program record with 17 home wins, going 17-2 in the friendly confines of the Devaney Center. Facing non-conference opponents, the Huskers have been nearly unbeatable at home under Sadler, losing three times in 55 games, including a 26-game home win streak snapped on Nov. 23.
Nebraska Coach Doc Sadler
Doc Sadler is in his sixth season on the Husker sideline after leading Nebraska to an NIT appearance in 2010-11. Sadler has guided the Huskers to postseason appearances in three of the last four seasons, and his 89 wins in his first five seasons was the most by any Husker coach in his first five years at Nebraska. He is now in fourth place on Nebraska's career wins list with 97. Sadler has guided teams to postseason berths in five of his seven years as a Division I head coach, as both of his UTEP squads reached postseason play before taking over the Nebraska program in August of 2006.
Huskers Look to Continue Defensive Excellence
One hallmark of Nebraska basketball under Doc Sadler is a stout defense, and the Huskers were among the nation's best in 2010-11. Nebraska allowed an average of 60.5 points per game to lead the Big 12 for the third time in the last four seasons and rank 18th nationally. It is the fourth time in Sadler's seven years as a Division I head coach that his teams have led a league in scoring defense.
The Huskers were also seventh nationally in field goal percentage in 2010-11, as the .389 field goal percentage defense was the lowest by a Husker team since the 1960-61 campaign.
- The Huskers held 17 opponents under 60 points and only six opponents have scored more than 70 points in 2010-11. That is made more impressive when you consider that Nebraska has played 11 games against teams which rank in the top 40 nationally in scoring offense during the season.
- Nebraska allowed only four teams to eclipse its season scoring average in 32 games and held seven teams to season lows in points.
- Nebraska held 10 straight opponents to under 60 points earlier, the longest stretch by a Nebraska team since a 21-game stretch covering the 1948-49 and 1949-50 seasons.
The injuries to Diaz, Talley and Almeida, who has not played this season because of a knee injury, have hurt the Huskers' defensive presence. Despite the injuries, Nebraska is allowing 62.3 points per game entering Wednesday's game against Penn State, but are allowing opponents to hit nearly 35 percent from 3-point range to rank ninth in the conference.
- Dating back to the start of the 2010-11 season, Nebraska has held 33 of its past 47 opponents to under 45 percent shooting.
- Nebraska has held three opponents to 50 points or less this season, allowing just 46 points to Alcorn State on Dec. 17.
- Nebraska held South Dakota to 48 points, its second-lowest point total since the Coyotes moved to Division I prior to the 2007-08 season. The Huskers allowed just 49 points in regulation at USC before winning 64-61 in double overtime and held Florida Gulf Coast to 50 points on Dec. 7.
60 Is the Magic Number for Defense
Nebraska's success has been predicated on clamping down on the opposition. Last year, the Huskers held 17 of 32 opponents under 60 points, compiling a 15-2 mark in those games. Counting the six games this season, Nebraska has held 76 opponents to 60 points or less in Doc Sadler's tenure at Nebraska, compiling a 66-10 record in those games following the loss at Illinois on Jan. 7.
New Conference, Old Foes
Nebraska's addition to the Big Ten Conference provides Husker fans a new set of rivals to get acquainted with this season. While Nebraska has squared off with every Big Ten member in its history, it has been a while since NU has played any of its new conference members. Prior to the Big Ten opener against Wisconsin on Dec. 27, Nebraska's last contest with a Big Ten team was a 58-47 loss to Minnesota on Dec. 8, 2004.
Coming into 2011-12, current Big Ten members have only played at the Devaney Center 17 times since the facility opened in 1976 with the Gophers (seven times) and Michigan State (three times) accounting for more than half of the total. Indiana, Michigan and Illinois all make their first-ever trips to the Devaney Center this winter, leaving Northwestern as the only Big Ten team to never play the Huskers at the Devaney Center.
Huskers Take 5 Against Central Michigan
Nebraska had five players in double figures in the win over Central Michigan, marking only the fifth time in Doc Sadler's five seasons that the Huskers had placed five players in double figures, and the first time since Dec. 1, 2010, against Jackson State.
Nebraska totaled a season-high 13 steals in the loss at No. 6 Ohio State on Jan. 3. The performance was NU's best of the season and the fifth-highest total in Doc Sadler's six seasons at Nebraska. The last time Nebraska had more than 13 steals in a conference game was 15 against Oklahoma State on Feb. 7, 2001.
Noting the 2011-12 Schedule
With a new conference, including 18 Big Ten games, the Huskers will face a challenging road in 2011-12. Here are a couple of nuggets on the upcoming season slate.
- Nebraska will play 13 of its 29 games this season against teams that made the NCAA Tournament in 2010-11. In Big Ten action, seven squads qualified for the Big Dance, including No. 1 seed Ohio State, as the conference was second in the RPI. The Huskers will open their first season of Big Ten Conference action with six straight games against NCAA Tournament teams (Wisconsin, Michigan State, at Ohio State, at Illinois, Penn State, and at Wisconsin).
- Nebraska's three true road games in non-conference play (at USC, at Creighton, at TCU) equaled the Huskers' highest total since making four road trips in the 1997-98 season.
- Nebraska's schedule features 18 conference games, compared to only 16 games in Big 12 action. The Huskers' single-play opponents in 2011-12 are Indiana and Michigan at home and Northwestern and Purdue on the road. The Huskers will face the remaining seven teams (Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State, Illinois, Iowa, Penn State and Minnesota) home and home.
- Every Nebraska game this year will be available on television or the internet, including 22 games broadcast nationally on the ESPN family of networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU) or on the Big Ten Network. Nebraska also had its non-conference road games against TCU (The Mountain), Creighton (KMTV) and USC (Prime Ticket) televised, while the Huskers' games against Alcorn State and Central Michigan were televised statewide on NET.
New Faces on the Bench
There are two new faces on the Husker staff in 2011-12, as Jeremy Cox joins the program as an assistant coach, while Tim Wilson is the Huskers' new strength coach. Cox has nearly two decades of coaching experience, including stops at Kentucky, Texas A&M, and South Florida. He is reunited with Sadler, as he was an assistant under the Huskers' head coach at Arkansas-Fort Smith in 2002-03. During his coaching tenure, he has had 10 players reach the NBA and had two first-round draft picks (Patrick Patterson, Kentucky; Dominique Jones, South Florida) in 2010.
Tim Wilson comes to Nebraska after serving as the strength coach at Oregon for the last three seasons. Prior to that, the Falls City, Neb., native worked for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA for 11 years, helping the franchise make six playoff appearances, including the Eastern Conference Finals. He also worked at Pittsburgh and UNLV as well as the Chicago White Sox.
Huskers Announce Upcoming Promotions
The Nebraska Athletic Department announced Thursday a series of upcoming promotions for the remainder of the 2011-12 men's basketball season.
- Wednesday's game against Penn State and the Feb. 5 game against Minnesota have been designated as Red Zone bring a friend nights, as current Red Zone members can bring another UNL student with them for free (must have a valid UNL Student ID).
- Select games will feature discounted concession items, including $1 Pepsi products (24 oz. cup) for Wednesday's game against Penn State and $2 Wimmer's hot dogs for the Feb. 5 game against Minnesota.
- For fans who want to watch both the Husker men and women play, current season ticket holders and fans who have purchased tickets to Nebraska's games against Ohio State (Jan. 21), Michigan (Feb. 8) and Illinois (Feb. 18) will be able to use those tickets for free admission for the women's games the following day. Those women's games are against Minnesota (Jan. 22), Michigan (Feb. 9) and Wisconsin (Feb. 19).
- For families who have children enrolled in the Nebraska JV Team (kids club), each JV team member will receive a free ticket to upcoming games against Penn State (Jan. 11) and Minnesota (Feb. 5) while having the opportunity to purchase discounted tickets for both games. For more information on those games, visit the Husker JV team website at Huskers.com/jvteam.
- Free Husker rally towels will be distributed to the first 3,000 fans in attendance at the Indiana game on Wednesday, Jan. 18.
- Celebrate Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 6 when the Huskers host Minnesota at Noon, as all upper bench tickets will be discounted to $5.