Huskers Host No. 14 Minnesota Tuesday Evening
GAME 10: VS. NO. 14 MINNESOTA
2017-18 Record: 6-3, 0-1 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 81-89 (6th year)
Career Record: 364-309 (23rd year)
14/15 MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS
2017-18 Record: 8-1, 1-0 Big Ten
Internet Video: BTN2Go and Fox Sports Go
Play-by-play: Kevin Kugler
Analysis: Shon Morris
Radio: Husker Sports Network, including 590 AM (Omaha), 1400 AM (Lincoln) and 880 AM (Lexington)
Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka
Analysis: Jake Muhleisen
Online Radio: Available online at Huskers.com, on the Huskers App and on TuneIn Radio and the TuneIn Radio App.
Nebraska returns home for the Big Ten home opener Tuesday night, as the Huskers welcome No. 14 Minnesota to Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Tipoff is set for shortly after 8 p.m., and a limited number of 300 Level tickets are available beginning at $10 by visiting the NU Ticket office online at Huskers.com/Tickets, calling 800-8-BIGRED or at the Pinnacle Bank Arena ticket office 90 minutes before tipoff.
Tuesday's game will be televised nationally on BTN with Kevin Kugler and Shon Morris on the call. The game is also available on BTN.com, BTN2Go and Fox Sports Go app.
Fans can follow all of the action across the state of Nebraska on the IMG Husker Sports Network with Kent Pavelka and Jake Muhleisen on the call. The game will also be available on Huskers.com, on the Huskers app, on TuneIn Radio and on the TuneIn Radio app. The radio broadcast begins one hour prior to tipoff.
Tuesday is the first Stripe the Vault Night at Pinnacle Bank Arena, as adidas will provide extra large shirts on every seat at PBA for fans. For fans who want to wear their own shirt, they can check what color their section is by visiting: https://go.unl.edu/stripethevault.
The Huskers (6-3, 0-1 Big Ten) look to bounce back after falling to a red-hot Michigan State team in their Big Ten opener. Nebraska was unable to get untracked offensively against the No. 3 Spartans, shooting just 27.4 percent from the field. James Palmer Jr. was the only Husker to finish in double figures, as he finished with 15 points.
Palmer, in his first year at NU after spending two seasons at Miami, has become one of the conference's top newcomers. He is second among all Big Ten newcomers in scoring at 14.3 points per game, while ranking second on the Huskers in steals (1.4 spg) and third in assists (2.7 apg).
The Huskers will face their second ranked opponent in three days, as the No. 14 Golden Gophers are 8-1 on the season following an 89-67 win over Rutgers on Sunday. Nate Mason led four Minnesota players in double figures with 26 points and seven assists, while the Golden Gophers held Rutgers to 32 percent shooting.
Minnesota, which returned four starters from an NCAA Tournament team, leads the Big Ten in scoring at 89.4 points per game and are led by junior forward Jordan Murphy, who leads the Big Ten in both scoring (21.4 ppg) and rebounding (12.9 rpg).
5 - Nebraska had just five turnovers in the loss at Michigan State, matching the second-lowest total in Tim Miles' six seasons. The only time NU had less was when the Huskers had a school-record two turnovers vs. Purdue on Jan. 16, 2013.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
.457 - Nebraska is shooting .457 from 3-point range over the past four games, while averaging 9.3 3-pointers per game in that stretch.
.892 - Nebraska is 25-3 under Tim Miles when scoring at least 80 points. The Huskers are 4-0 when reaching the 80-point plateau this season.
.913 - Under Tim Miles, Nebraska is 21-2 when recording 15 or more assists in a game. The Huskers are 4-0 this season when dishing out at least 15 assists.
1.69 - NU's assist-to-turnover ratio over the last six games.
3 - Number of Huskers with 20-point games in 2017-18 (James Palmer Jr., Glynn Watson Jr. and Isaac Copeland).
2012 - The last time Nebraska had multiple players averaging more than three assists per game. Entering Tuesday's game, both Glynn Watson (3.0 apg) and Evan Taylor (3.0 apg) are both above 3.0 assists per game.
Under Richard Pitino, the Gophers come to Lincoln with an 8-1 record following a win over Rutgers on Sunday. Minnesota has enjoyed a solid non-conference slate, picking up a win at Providence in the Gavitt Tipoff Games and neutral site wins over UMass and Alabama. The only loss was a five-point loss to No. 10 Miami in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Golden Gophers, who returned back four starters from a team that won 24 games last season, leads the Big Ten in scoring offense at 89.4 points per game while shooting 49 percent from the field and 37 percent from 3-point range.
While Minnesota features four players averaging double figures, junior forward Jordan Murphy is putting together an All-America caliber season, pacing the Big Ten in both scoring (21.0 ppg) and rebounding (12.9 rpg). He has been the Big Ten Player of the Week three consecutive weeks and has opened the year with nine straight double-doubles. Fifth-year senior Reggie Lynch averages 11.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and leads the nation with 4.8 blocks per game. Lynch was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2017. Senior Nate Mason anchors the UM backcourt with 15.2 points and 4.6 assists per game.
Nebraska and Minnesota will meet for the 74th time on Tuesday, which is the most between the Huskers and any other Big Ten member.
It is also NU’s longest-running series in the Big Ten, as it dates back to February of 1902. The Gophers lead the all-time series, 54-19, while the Huskers have won four of the past six meetings. The home team has won the last eight meetings. Nebraska is 4-5 against the Golden Gophers as Big Ten members.
Prior to joining the Big Ten, NU and Minnesota met in non-conference action every year from 1995 until 2004 after not playing for 16 years.
This is the first of two meetings between Nebraska and Minnesota, as the teams will meet in Minneapolis on Feb. 6.
LAST TIME OUT
James Palmer Jr. had a team-high 15 points, but NU was unable to slow down third-ranked Michigan State’s frontline in am 86-57 loss Sunday afternoon.
Palmer led the Huskers with 15 points and three assists, but Nebraska (6-3, 0-1 Big Ten) shot just 27.4 percent on the day in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
Nick Ward and Jaren Jackson combined for 37 points, 17 rebounds and six blocked shots, as Ward keyed a decisive first-half run for the hosts.
Ward finished with a game-high 22 points, including 10-of-13 from the line, and seven boards while Jackson finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, as MSU put four players in double figures.
Ward keyed a 16-4 Spartan run with eight of his 12 first-half points to help MSU build an 18-point lead. Nebraska trimmed the lead to 12 in the final 3:19 of the half, as Isaiah Roby’s 3-pointer cut the Husker deficit to 38-26.
Nebraska was within 47-34 after a Palmer 3-pointer with 18:08 left, but the Spartans ran off eight straight points to push the lead to 21 after a Xavier Tillman basket and remained in control.
One of the biggest differences between previous seasons and 2017-18 is the Huskers' interior size and it made a defensive impact in the Huskers' first seven games.
*-Nebraska ranks 28th nationally and sixth in the Big Ten in blocked shots per game with 5.6 per outing entering the week despite recording just one block against No. 3 Michigan State. Last year, the Huskers averaged just 3.7 blocks per game. NU's school record for blocks is 6.1 per game set by the 1996-97 team, as that team blocked a school-record 202 shots that season.
*-Nebraska has blocked five or more shots in seven of the first nine games, including nine blocked shots against both Eastern Illinois and North Texas.
*-Nebraska's nine blocked shots in each of the first two games marked the two highest single-game totals at Nebraska under Tim Miles. Previously, NU's team high in blocked shots was seven.
*-Nebraska has three players - Isaiah Roby (1.6 bpg), Duby Okeke (1.1 bpg) and Isaac Copeland (1.0 bpg) - averaging at least one block per game.
*-Isaiah Roby's six blocks against Eastern Illinois was the most by a Husker since the 2005-06 season. In fact, no Husker had totaled five or more blocked shots since the 2011-12 campaign.
*-In the win against North Texas, Isaac Copeland established his personal best with four blocked shots while Duby Okeke added three blocks off the bench.
HUSKERS LOOK FOR BALANCE
Tim Miles believes that the 2017-18 Huskers are the deepest roster he has enjoyed in his six-year tenure. With nine players averaging at least 9.0 minutes per outing, Miles has relied on the Huskers' depth early on. While Nebraska has had at least one player in the top five in scoring in the Big Ten the last four seasons, the 2017-18 squad does not have a scorer in the top-15 in the Big Ten, but does have four players averaging double figures and a fifth averaging 9.6 points per game.
*-The Huskers currently have four players averaging double figures through the first four contests. Under Miles, NU has had three double figure scorers twice in five seasons (2012-13 and 2015-16).
*-Nebraska is 6-0 this season when three or more players reach double figures.
*-Seven Huskers have already reached double figures in scoring, including 20-point efforts from Isaac Copeland, James Palmer Jr. and Glynn Watson Jr.
*-The last time Nebraska had more than three players average double figures was in 1993-94, when future NBA pros Eric Piatkowski and Erick Strickland highlighted five double-figure scorers for the Big Red.
SHARING THE BALL
For Tim Miles, a main offensive focus over the summer and during the preseason has been better ball movement to create better shot opportunities. Compared to the first nine games of last year, Nebraska has raised its scoring average by nearly six points per game (73.6-68.3) and the main reason has been better ball movement.
*-Nebraska's assists per game has jumped by more than four per game compared to last season, as NU is currently seventh in the Big Ten in assists per game at 15.0 per game.
*-NU ranks in the top five in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3-to-1, fourth) and turnover margin (+3.7, fifth).
*-Nebraska has averaged assists on 59.0 percent of its baskets, which is the highest rate of Tim Miles 13-year tenure as a Division I coach. The last time a Miles-coached team assisted on 50 percent of its baskets came during the 2011-12 season at Colorado State (50.1). That team won 20 games and earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament.
*-Nebraska has dished out 20 or more assists three times in the first eight games. During the previous five years, it has occurred only once in 161 games. Nebraska had 22 assists against Marist, its highest total since the 2011-12 campaign.
*-Glynn Watson (3.7 apg), Evan Taylor (3.0 apg) and James Palmer (2.7 apg) all average at least 2.5 assists per game.
COPELAND BREAKS OUT
For Isaac Copeland, his breakout game against North Dakota on Nov. 19 was nearly a year in the making. Copeland, who transferred to Nebraska from Georgetown in January, had gotten off to a slow start offensively, averaging 7.0 points on 32 percent shooting in NU's first three games.
Against North Dakota, Copeland eclipsed that total in the first half, hitting eight of his first nine shots to score 19 first-half points as part of his 30-point effort. The performance marked Copeland's second career 30-point effort, as he scored a career-high 32 points against Marquette during the 2015-16 campaign.
Since that performance, Copeland is averaging 14.5 points per game on 52 percent shooting. He has been in double figures in four of the last six games and is also averaging a team-high 6.2 rebounds per game. Against BC, Copeland led NU in both scoring (15) and rebounds (eight), but was held to 1-of-9 shooting at Michigan State. This season, Copeland leads NU in rebounding at 6.3 per game while ranking third in scoring (12.0 ppg) and in blocked shots (1.0 bpg).
WATSON LEADS HUSKER ATTACK
Glynn Watson Jr. may be one of the most underrated guards in the Big Ten Conference. Last year, the 6-foot junior averaged 13.0 points, 2.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game in 2016-17.
This season, Watson has continued to improve, as he comes into Tuesday's matchup with Minnesota averaging 12.9 points, 3.7 assists and 1.9 steals per game. He had a season-high 26-point, six-steal performance against Long Beach State on Sunday, as he played a significant role in forcing LBSU into 21 turnovers.
*-Watson is currently third in the Big Ten in steals per game, 11th in the Big Ten in assists and eighth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5-to-1).
*-With 812 points entering Tuesday's game, Watson sits in 49th place in NU's career scoring list. He can make another significant leap this week, as he is 14 points away from 45th place (Bob Gratopp, 826).
*-Watson turned in a strong performance at the AdvoCare Invitational, averaging 15.3 points, 5.7 assists, 3.7 steals and 3.3 rebounds per game, while posting a 5.7-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. In addition to his effort against Long Beach State, Watson also had 11 points and seven assists in the loss to UCF.
*-He has four career games with five or more steals, including a career-best six against Long Beach State on Nov. 26. Watson's six steals that game were the most by a Husker since 2012.
*-Watson already has a pair of 20-point efforts, as he had 26 points against Long Beach State and 21 points against Eastern Illinois in the season opener. He has nine 20-point games in his career as well as 39 double-figure performances.
*-He is on pace to be NU's 29th 1,000-point scorer later this season and would become NU's fourth 1,000-point scorer in Tim Miles' six seasons at Nebraska. He would also be the third Husker from Winchester St. Joseph to reach 1,000 points at Nebraska, joining Carl Hayes (1900-92) and Clifford Scales (1988-91). All three played for legendary coach Gene Pingatore, who is in his 49th season at the school.
*-Watson scored a career-high 34 points in Nebraska's 93-90 double OT win over Iowa last season. His 34-point effort tied for 10th on NU's single-game scoring list, while his seven 3-pointers was the second-highest single-game total in school history.
*-Watson has always been in the clutch, as he shot 40 percent from 3-point range, 85 percent from the foul line and had a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in the last four minutes and OT last season. In his career, Watson is a career 85 percent shooter in the last four minutes, including 9-of-10 this season.
*-Watson’s 13.0 points per game entering the season was the second-highest returning average by a Husker guard in the last decade, trailing only All-Big Ten performer Terran Petteway’s 18.1 ppg entering the 2014-15 season.
*-Watson's older brother was Demetri McCamey, who earned first-team All-Big Ten honors as a junior for the Fighting Illini in 2010.
GILL RETURNS BETTER THAN EVER
After a junior season where he battled a pair of knee injuries, including a ruptured right patella tendon on Christmas night, senior Anton Gill is healthy and giving the Huskers another valuable offensive option.
Gill missed NU's first two games because of a groin injury, but has returned with a flourish, averaging 10.5 points per game while coming off the Husker bench. Gill leads the Huskers in 3-pointers (18) and 3-point percentage (.563), ranking fourth in the Big Ten in 3-pointers per game (2.6) and in 3-point percentage.
*-Gill has reached double figures three times in the last six games, averaging 11.2 ppg on 55 percent shooting in that stretch. His first double-figure game came against North Dakota, when he set then-personal bests in points (16), field goals (six), 3-pointers (four) and assists (three) in 24 minutes.
*-He scored a career-high 17 points against Marist, hitting 5-of-7 3-pointers against the Red Foxes and added 13 points in the win over Long Beach, marking the first consecutive double-figure performances of his college career.
*-All nine of Gill's career double-figure performances have come off the bench, as he had four during his tenure at Louisville and two last year.
TAYLOR SUPPLIES STEADINESS
Senior Evan Taylor has quietly put together a solid start to his senior year. The 6-foot-5 guard is averaging 9.6 points per game while usually guarding the opponent's top scoring threat. Taylor has raised his number in nearly every category and has reached double figures four times in nine games after having six double-figure games in his first season at NU. The biggest improvement in Taylor's game has been his shooting, as he is at nearly 50 percent from the field, including 9-of-12 from 3-point range. Last year, he had just six 3-pointers in 31 contests.
COPELAND, PALMER TRANSFER INTO HUSKER STARTERS
While Watson is a two-year starter for the Huskers, a pair of transfers add experience and scoring punch. Isaac Copeland and James Palmer Jr. look to continue the success of transfers who have enjoyed success under Miles. Copeland and Palmer look to join Andy Ogide (CSU, 2009), Terran Petteway (NU, 2014) and Andrew White III (NU, 2016), as players who earned all-conference recognition in their first season under Miles.
Copeland started 49 games in two-plus seasons at Georgetown, helping the Hoyas to the 2015 NCAA Tournament. In his last full season in 2015-16, Copeland started 33 games, averaging 11.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. A former top-20 recruit, Copeland was a preseason All-Big East selection last year before he was sidelined with his back injury. This season, Copeland leads NU in rebounding at 6.3 per game while ranking third in scoring (12.0 ppg) and in blocked shots (1.0 bpg).
Palmer Jr. has quickly made his mark in his first season of action at Nebraska, averaging a team-high 14.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game. He is also second on the team in steals and third in assists.
*-Palmer has reached double figures eight times, including a season-high 22 points in the loss to UCF on Thanksgiving. In his last season at Miami, Palmer was in double figures just twice in 34 games.
*-He averaged 16.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game during the AdvoCare Invitational, reaching double figures in all three games.
*-He played a key role in the win over Boston College, scoring a team-high 15 points and adding a career-high five steals.
*-Palmer keyed the win over North Texas with a then-career-high 18 points, including 11 points in NU's game-opening 25-2 run.
*-A former top-100 recruit, Palmer played at the University of Miami for two seasons, averaging 3.4 points on the Hurricanes' Sweet 16 team in 2015-16.
STRONGER ROBY EMERGES AS STAT STUFFER
After serving as a role player as a freshman, Isaiah Roby spent the summer bulking up to prepare for the rigors of the season. Now, the 6-foot-8, 225-pound sophomore has the strength to match his skillset.
*-He enters this week averaging 6.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and a team-high 1.6 blocks per game, as he had seven points and a team-high six rebounds against No. 3 Michigan State. He had missed the Boston College game and played just four minutes vs. Long Beach State because of an ankle injury.
*-Roby has reached double figures three times in eight games after hitting double figures once as a freshman.
*-He opened the year with the best performance of his career, an 11-point, 13-rebounds, six-block performance against Eastern Illinois, setting personal bests in all three categories. His six blocks were the most by a Husker since 2011.
*-Roby had 11 points, four rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots in the win over North Dakota.