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Huskers Take on Wisconsin in Big Ten Opener
Toney McCray is averaging 15.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game since moving to the starting lineup.
Photo Courtesy Scott Bruhn/NU Media Relations
Courtesy: NU Media Relations
12/26/2011
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Nebraska Cornhuskers
2011-12 Record: 8-3
Head coach: Doc Sadler
                Record at Nebraska: 97-74 (6th year)
                Record at Division I: 145-92 (8th year)
                Career Record: 265-131 (14th year)

Wisconsin Badgers
2011-12 Record: 11-2
Head Coach: Ben Ryan
                Record at Wisconsin: 253-93 (11th year)
                Career Record: 636-93 (28th year)

Huskers on TV/Radio/Internet
Television: ESPN2 (Ch. 35 on Time Warner Cable, Ch. 30 on Cox Cable; Ch. 209 on DirecTV; Ch. 144 on Dish Network)
                Play-by-play: Dave Armstrong
                Color: Dan Dakich

Radio: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network (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 Ch. 93

Huskers Welcome Wisconsin in Big Ten Opener
The Nebraska men's basketball team begins its first season of Big Ten Conference basketball action Tuesday night, as the Huskers welcome No. 11 Wisconsin to the Bob Devaney Sports Center. Tipoff for the Huskers' first-ever Big Ten opener is set for 8:05 p.m.

Husker Tip Off

  • Nebraska's Bo Spencer is one of only two Big Ten players averaging at least 15 points and four assists per game entering this week's action.

Player

School

PPG

APG

Bo Spencer

Nebraska

16.1

4.3

Tim Frazier

Penn State

17.2

7.2

  • Points will be at a premium in the Big Ten opener, as both teams are known for its defense. Nebraska led the Big 12 in scoring defense in three of its final four years in the league, while Wisconsin has led the Big Ten in scoring defense three times in the past four year and leads again in 2011-12.

Last Time Out
Nebraska placed five players in double figures, as the Huskers closed out non-conference play with a 72-69 victory over Central Michigan on Dec. 20.

With two of its top three scorers unavailable due to injury, Nebraska's senior class carried the offense, accounting for 52 of the Huskers' 72 points as the Huskers improved to 8-3 on the season. Brandon Richardson scored a season-high 15 points while Bo Spencer tied for team-high honors and also dished out nine assists. Toney McCray and Caleb Walker each scored 11, as McCray added a season-high eight rebounds. Junior Brandon Ubel was the fifth Husker in double figures with 11 points to help NU to its fourth straight win.

Nebraska won the game at the free throw line, getting to the line a season-high 26 times and hitting 20, while the Chippewas converted only 11-of-20 from the charity stripe.

Nebraska trailed 21-20 midway through the first half before using an 11-0 run to take control of the contest. The Huskers held the Chippewas scoreless for more than six minutes, and took a 34-28 lead into the locker room as McCray's 3-pointer beat the halftime buzzer. 

Nebraska eventually pushed the lead to 45-33 with 13:20 remaining, but could not put Central Michigan away in the second half. Central Michigan eventually used a 9-2 run of its own to pull within 57-56 with five minutes to play.  That would be as close as the Chippewas would get, as a quick basket by Spencer gave Nebraska a two-possession lead. The Huskers then held Central Michigan without a field goal for the next four minutes as they stretched their advantage to 64-56 with 1:26 remaining. The Chippewas cut the lead to three on four occasions in the final 30 seconds, but Nebraska hit 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch to preserve the win.

Scouting Wisconsin
Under Coach Bo Ryan, Wisconsin has been one of the Big Ten's best programs over the past decade. The Badgers have won five Big Ten titles and come off a Sweet 16 appearance in 2010-11. Wisconsin comes to town with a 11-2 record and a five-game win streak following a 79-45 win over Mississippi Valley State on Dec. 23. The Badgers' only two losses have come at North Carolina and at home against Marquette. The Badgers, who are ranked 11th in both the AP and USA Today Coaches Polls released Monday, lead the nation by allowing 44.7 points per game. In fact, only three teams around the country have held opponents to under 50 points per game. The Badgers also rank in the top three in field goal percentage defense and personal fouls per game. Wisconsin has held 10 of its first 13 opponents to season lows in points.

All-America guard Jordan Taylor keys the Wisconsin attack, as the Badgers lead the nation in fewest turnovers per game. Taylor averages 12.2 points per game and is third in the Big Ten with 5.0 assists per game. A Wooden Award candidate and consensus All-American, Taylor has a 3.3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio while guiding a Badger attack that averages 68.2 points per game and has three players averaging double figures. Junior forward Jared Berggren leads Wisconsin in scoring, averaging 12.5 points per game while shooting 54 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range. The Badgers also feature one of the Big Ten's top reserve players in Ben Brust, who averages 10.8 points per game and had a career-high 25 points, including 7-of-7 from 3-point range, in the Badgers' win over UNLV on Dec. 10. Ryan Evans nearly gives the Badgers a fourth player averaging double figures, averaging 9.9 points and a team-high 7.0 rebounds per game.

Nebraska-Wisconsin Series
Tuesday's nationally televised matchup is the 17th meeting between the two programs, but the first since Nov. 22, 1998.  Nebraska leads the all-time series, 10-6, and has won eight of the past nine meetings. The series dates back to the 1903-04 season, as Nebraska won the first meeting, 25-55 over the Badgers in Lincoln before Wisconsin took five of the next six meetings from 1907 to 1955.  Nebraska then won eight straight matchups before Wisconsin snapped the streak with a 78-41 win at the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Huskers have won both meetings which have taken place at the Devaney Center, a 53-51 win on Dec. 12, 1984 and an 86-67 triumph on Dec. 12, 1991.

Husker Alumni to Return for Tuesday's Game
As part of Tuesday's inaugural Big Ten basketball opener, the Nebraska Athletic Department is welcoming back former players to the Devaney Center. Over 30 players will be on hand and will be honored prior to the Huskers' 8:05 p.m. tip against the Badgers. Fans are encouraged to arrive early for the special pregame ceremony, as the former players will be introduced individually and then will welcome the 2011-12 Huskers to the court for their first-ever Big Ten contest.

The 31 former Huskers already scheduled to attend as of  Monday morning include Drake Beranek, Willie Campbell, Bruce Chubick, Matt Davison, Bernard Day, Rex Ekwall, Kedrick Ford, Ivan Gilreath, Jerry Hare, Wayne Hester, Dave Hoppen, Nate Johnson, Nick Krenk, Gayle Lebsack, Kelly Lively, Andy Markowski, John Matzke, Stan Matzke, Al Maxey Sr., Neil Nannen, Terry Novak, Marcus Perry, Beau Reid, Cole Salomon, Bob Siegel, Drew Stange, Dale Von Seggern, Jerry Solomon, Paul Velander, Tony Wilbrand and Craig Wortmann.

Huskers vs. Ranked Teams
Nebraska's game against Wisconsin will be the Huskers' first against a ranked team in the AP poll this season (Creighton was ranked No. 22 in the Coaches Poll, but not in the AP Poll). The Huskers went 3-3 against ranked teams last year, including a win over No. 3 Texas and have eight wins over ranked AP teams in Doc Sadler's tenure at Nebraska. The win over the Longhorns was the highest ranked team Nebraska knocked off since 1994.
The Huskers will have plenty of opportunities to take on ranked teams over the next month, as six of Nebraska's first eight Big Ten games are against teams ranked in this week's poll (No. 2 Ohio State, No. 11 Wisconsin, No. 13 Indiana and No. 16 Michigan State).

Opening Conference at Home: A Rare Site
Opening conference play at home has been a rare site in recent years. During the Big 12 era, Nebraska opened at home only five times in 15 seasons. Nebraska is 2-3 in conference openers under Doc Sadler, including two wins in the last three games. Last year, Nebraska downed Iowa State, 63-62, with Lance Jeter hitting a game-winning free throw with 0.7 seconds remaining.

Nebraska's back-to-back home games against Wisconsin and Michigan State marks the first time since the 1989-90 season that the Huskers' first two conference games are at home, when Nebraska opened with No. 1 Kansas and No. 5 Missouri at the Devaney Center.

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, averaging 16.0 points, 4.3 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game.

Spencer has reached double figures in nine of NU's last 10 games, including four 20-point performances and is one of only two players in the Big Ten currently averaging more than 15 points and four assists per game.

He had 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. Spencer led Nebraska to a win at TCU on Dec. 10, hitting 7-of-12 shots, including four 3-pointers, in NU's 69-57 win. 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 a season-high 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. He comes off a strong effort 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 had 11 points and played a steady floor game against Alcorn State, as he did not commit a turnover in 30 minutes of action. It marked the third time in his career - and first since March 4, 2010 - where he played at least 30 minutes and did not commit a turnover.

Before coming to Nebraska, he started two seasons for the Tigers, 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 28 points, including a 28-point effort against Western Kentucky and back-to-back 25-point contests against Kentucky and Tennessee. 

In his 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.

Diaz Becoming Consistent Inside Force
Junior center Jorge Brian Diaz has been a steady presence for the Huskers throughout his three-year career. The 6-foot-11 center is one of two Huskers in double figures, averaging 10.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. His average after nine games is ahead of his career bests in points, rebounds and blocked shots, but did not play in Nebraska's final two games before the holiday break.

Offensively, he has been in double figures in five of NU's nine games and is second on the squad with 14 offensive rebounds. In his career, Diaz has 36 career games in double figures and now ranks 56th on Nebraska's career scoring list with 725 points.

Defensively, he tops the Big Ten in blocked shots and his 23 blocked shots is more than one Big Ten team's entire season total entering this week.  Diaz, who has 102 career blocked shots became the ninth Husker to record 100 blocks with this three blocks at TCU.

He tied his career high with five blocks in the one-point win over Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 7, joining Illinois' Meyers Leonard 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.

Diaz has been steady on offense, scoring at least eight points in all nine games, including five double-figure efforts. He nearly recorded a double-double against No. 22 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 275 points away from the 1,000 point mark and could become just the 15th Husker to reach the 1,000-point plateau in three seasons.

Toney, Toney, Toney
After a slow start, Toney McCray has regained his 2010-11 form. The 6-foot-6 senior missed a significant part of the summer after surgery on his feet, and a toe injury the week of the exhibition game put him out of action for nearly a week, forcing him to play catch up during the first month of the season.

McCray is making up for lost time in recent weeks, averaging 12.4 points per game on 61 percent shooting over the last seven contests after averaging 3.8 points per game on 38 percent shooting in Nebraska's first four contests. He is third on the team in scoring at 9.4 points per game and ranks eighth in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (56.9 percent).

McCray moved into the starting lineup in the Huskers' last two games after an injury to Jorge Brian Diaz and has averaged 15.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in the two wins. He set season highs in both points (20) and rebounds (seven) against Alcorn State on Dec. 17, before totaling 11 points and a season-high eight rebounds in the win over Central Michigan on Dec. 20.

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 had 12 points in Nebraska's games against South Dakota and Wake Forest.

McCray may have made his biggest contributions from the foul line in the 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.

Ubel Doing the Dirty Work Inside
After a slow start offensively, junior Brandon Ubel has raised his level of play in the last three weeks.  The 6-foot-10 forward has averaged 10.0 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game in Nebraska's last four contests, well above his season and career averages. He now ranks seventh in the Big Ten in rebounding at 6.4 per game, including a league-leading 3.0 offensive rebounds per game.

The stretch began against Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 7 when he had a career-high 11 rebounds and 10 points for his first career double-double. He has put together three double-figure scoring efforts in the last four games, including 13 points and eight rebounds in the win over Alcorn State and 11 points and seven rebounds against Central Michigan. Ubel was the first Husker since Aleks Maric to have eight or more rebounds in three consecutive games.

Ubel's recent efforts were reminiscent of last year when he closed the year playing his best basketball, averaging 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.

Taking Advantage at the Stripe
One area where the Huskers have been proficient is at the free throw line, where Nebraska's 76.3 percent rate leads the Big Ten and is 12th nationally in the latest NCAA stats.

It is on track to be one of the best seasons in school history, as only three Husker teams have shot over 75 percent since 1948, led by the 1967-68 team was third nationally when they hit a school-record 76.5 percent from the line.

Nebraska has shot 75 percent or better from the line in seven of the last nine contests, hitting an impressive 78.3 percent from the line in that stretch.

The Huskers have been at their best in the clutch, hitting 82 percent (46-of-56) from the line in the last five minutes of games this season.

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 9.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game in just 21.9 minutes of action. Talley, who has missed the last two games with a thigh bruise, came up big for the Huskers against Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 7, scoring 14 points, including the game-winning basket with 10.4 seconds remaining.

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 of action 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.

Walker Showing Extended Range
The work that senior Caleb Walker put in to improve his shooting has paid off early in the 2011-12 season. After shooting 35.7 percent from long range in his first season at Nebraska, the 6-foot-4 wing has hit 12 of 27 from long range in the Huskers' first 11 games, as he ranks 10th in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting (44.4 percent). Walker has made the most of his opportunities, as the senior is fifth on the team in scoring, averaging 7.5 points per game.

He had the best offensive game of his career against Rhode Island on Nov. 20, scoring a career-high 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor. Walker was also 3-of-4 from 3-point range, the second game this year where he has hit at least a trio of 3-pointers. Against South Dakota in the season opener, he paced Nebraska with a then-career best 16 points on 5-of-5 shooting and seven rebounds in 24 minutes. Walker went 3-for-3 from 3-point range, as he set career highs in points and three-pointers in the season opener. He turned in a solid effort against TCU on Dec. 10, scoring nine points and grabbing a season-high eight rebounds to help the Huskers to their second road win of the season and had 11 points and five rebounds in the win over Central Michigan on Dec. 20.

Walker, who played both football and basketball as a freshman in junior college, is one of Nebraska's most athletic players and led Nebraska in rebounding last year. So far this season, he is averaging 4.7 rebounds per game to rank second on the team.

Richardson is Huskers' Glue Guy
While senior Brandon Richardson doesn't lead the Huskers in any offensive category, his versatility is his greatest asset. The fifth-year senior averages 6.7 points, 2.8 assists, 3.0 rebounds per game, while also leading the Huskers in steals (1.6 per game) where he ranks eighth in the conference in that category.

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 career highs in both assists (eight) and steals (four) in 25 minutes. Richardson had six assists in the first half, in helping Nebraska build a 20-point lead. Richardson comes off his best offensive game of the year, finishing with 15 points and three assists in the win over Central Michigan on Dec. 20.

Throughout his career, Richardson has been clutch from the free throw line, as he ranks third in school history with an 83.1 career percentage from the charity stripe and is one of only five players in program history to shoot over 80 percent for a career.  This year, he is hitting a career-best 88.2 percent from the foul line and has had one miss since the season opener.

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 from the line.  Throughout his career, he has been his best in late-game situations, going 73-of-78 from the foul line in the final five minutes of games, a remarkable 93.6 percentage.

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 five-plus seasons under Sadler, Nebraska has dominated to the tune of a 74-21 record (.778 winning percentage). 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. During his tenure, the team has earned a 52-3 record at the Devaney Center. The Huskers had their 26-game home win streak in non-conference games snapped by Oregon 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 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.

Team Scoring Defense Under Doc Sadler

Year

School

Ppg. Allowed

Conf.

NCAA

2004-05

UTEP

65.1

2nd

81st

2005-06

UTEP

59.5

1st

15th

2006-07

Nebraska

64.2

4th

63rd

2007-08

Nebraska

60.7

1st

18th

2008-09

Nebraska

60.4

1st

22nd

2009-10

Nebraska

65.7

4th

103rd

2010-11

Nebraska

60.5

1st

16th

The injuries to Diaz, Talley and backup center Andre Almeida, who has not played this season because of a lingering knee injury, have hurt the Huskers' defense early on. Nebraska is allowed 61.1 points per game while holding opponents to 40.8 percent shooting.

  • -Dating back to the start of last season, Nebraska has held 33 of its past 43 opponents to under 45 percent shooting or less.
  • -Nebraska has held three opponents to 50 points or less, 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 a season-low 50 points on Dec. 7.
  • -The Huskers held a Rhode Island team which came into the game averaging 90.0 points per game at the time to a season-low 63 points, including 20 in the first half.
  • -Nebraska held Wake Forest to a season-low 55 points, over 20 points below its season average, and Creighton's 76 points were 12 points below the Bluejays' season average entering the contest.

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 five games this season,  Nebraska has held 75 opponents to 60 points or less in Doc Sadler's tenure at Nebraska, compiling a 66-9 record in those games following the win over Alcorn State on Dec. 17.

Winning on the Road
In Doc Sadler's first five seasons, the Huskers were 2-8 in non-conference road games, but have turned it around this season. Nebraska went 2-1 in road games during non-conference play, posting a 64-61 double-overtime win at USC on Nov. 14, before ending non-conference action with a 69-57 win at TCU on Dec. 10. It marked the first time since 1998-99 that Nebraska has won a pair of non-conference road games. The 12-point margin at TCU matched the Huskers' largest non-conference road win since a 77-60 win at Minnesota on Dec. 29, 2003.

Nebraska's win at USC on Nov. 14 was a long time coming, as it was the program's first overtime road win since an 87-82 win at Colorado on Feb. 17, 2001. Prior to the USC win, the Huskers had won one overtime road game in that span. The win at USC, which featured comebacks in the final minutes of both regulation and overtime, was the second time since 1995 that Nebraska won its road opener.

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. Nebraska's last contest with a Big Ten team was a 58-47 loss to Minnesota on Dec. 8, 2004.  In fact, 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. This season, Indiana, Michigan and Illinois all make their first-ever trips to the Devaney Center, 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.

Five in Double Figures under Sadler

Opponent

Date

Score

Double Figures

vs. Central Michigan

12/20/11

W, 72-69

Spencer-15, Richardson-15, Ubel-11, McCray-11, Walker, 11

vs. Jackson State

12/1/10

W, 76-57

Walker-13, Jones-13, Ubel-10, Beranek-10, Richardson-10

vs. TCU

11/21/09

W, 90-77

Diaz-22, Richardson-15, Anderson-15, Henry-11, Hankins-Cole-10

vs. Savannah State

1/3/07

W, 81-53

Henry-18, Perry-17, Maric-14, White-14, Velander-10

This Day in Nebraska Basketball History
The Huskers are 11-18 all-time on Dec. 27, but have won six of their last seven games on the date. This is the second time Nebraska and Wisconsin have squared off on Dec. 27, as Nebraska downed the Badgers, 83-82, in the 1979 Rainbow Classic in Honolulu. The majority of the Huskers' games on this date took place in Kansas City as part of the Big Eight Holiday Tournament.

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.
  • 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. Last year, Nebraska did not play a non-conference road game.
  • Nebraska's schedule features 18 conference games, compared to only 16 games in Big 12 action. The Huskers' single-play opponents for the 2011-12 season 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.

General Admission Seats on Sale For Winter Break Games
The Nebraska Athletic Ticket Office announced that general-admission seating for the Huskers' three remaining games over winter break, including Big Ten games against nationally ranked Wisconsin and Michigan State, are now on sale.  These are first-come, first-served seating in sections A4 (floor bleacher seating), B4-B5 and C5-C7 for each game. Tickets are priced at $25 for this week's games against Wisconsin (Dec. 27) and Michigan State (Dec. 31). These student section prices are the same as the upper level plastic chair-back seats for each of those contests.

For more information or to purchase tickets for any of the upcoming games, visit Huskers.com or contact the Nebraska Athletic Ticket Office by calling 800-8-BIGRED during regular business hours (8 a.m.-5 p.m., Mon.-Fri.). Student Red Zone season-ticket holders will also be able to sit in the Red Zone Section for the winter break games, as seating in the area will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

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.

Tickets for the Nebraska-Wisconsin game are on sale for $20 and $25 by visiting Huskers.com or by calling the Nebraska Athletic Ticket Office at 800-8-BIGRED. In addition, tickets can also be purchased at the Devaney Center Ticket Office beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats early, as the Huskers will also recognize former players during pregame ceremonies.

Tuesday's game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 with Dave Armstrong and Dan Dakich on the call and the contest can also be viewed on ESPN3.com and on the Watch ESPN App.

The Huskers' conference opener against the Badgers will also be carried across Nebraska on the 30-station IMG Husker Sports Radio Network with Kent Pavelka and Matt Davison on the call. The game can also be heard on Huskers.com and season audio packages are also available for purchase on the Huskers' App for your iPhone or iPod Touch.

The Huskers come off a holiday break with an 8-3 record following a 72-69 win over Central Michigan on Dec. 20, to extend their win streak to a season-long four games. In that game, the Huskers shot 50 percent from the floor and put five players in double figures despite missing two of the team's top three scorers (Jorge Brian Diaz-foot and Dylan Talley-thigh) because of injuries.

While newcomer Bo Spencer has been the constant in the Huskers' offensive attack throughout the year, ranking among the Big Ten leaders in scoring and assists, senior Toney McCray has taken advantage of recent injuries to become more assertive. The 6-foot-6 guard/forward has started each of the last two games, as Nebraska has gone to a four-guard lineup and is averaging 15.5 points on 69 percent shooting and 7.5 rebounds per game in that stretch.

The Huskers will need all of the offense they can get against a Wisconsin team that is ranked 11th nationally in both national polls this week. The Badgers, who are 11-2 and riding a five-game win streak, lead the country in scoring defense, allowing just 44.7 points per game and are holding opponents to 33.5 percent shooting. Wisconsin has allowed only five of its first 13 opponents to score more than 50 points.

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