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Dylan Talley and the Huskers head to Northwestern on Thursday night.
Courtesy: NU Media Relations
          Release: 01/31/2012
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Huskers Begin Busy Stretch with Northwestern

Nebraska Cornhuskers
2011-12 Record: 11-9 (3-6 Big Ten)

Head coach: Doc Sadler
                Record at Nebraska: 100-80 (6th year)
                Record at Division I: 148-98 (8th year)
                Career Record: 268-137 (14th year)

Northwestern Wildcats
2011-12 Record: 12-8 (2-6 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Bill Carmody
                Record at Northwestern: 172-185 (12th year)
                Career Record: 237-210 (16th 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 O'Brien
                Expert Analysis: Stephen Bardo

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
                Expert Analysis: Matt Davison
Internet Radio/Stats: Free on Huskers.com
Satellite Radio (Northwestern feed): Sirius 92

Huskers Begin Busy Stretch with Northwestern
The Nebraska men's basketball team begins the second half of the Big Ten season Thursday night, as the Huskers travel to Evanston, Ill., for a showdown with the Northwestern Wildcats.

Tipoff from Welsh-Ryan Arena is set for 6:02 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPN2 with Dave O'Brien and Stephen Bardo on the call. The game can be seen in Lincoln on Ch. 35 on Time Warner Cable and in Omaha on Cox Cable Ch. 30, as well as nationally on both DirecTV (Ch. 209) and DISH Network (Ch. 144).

The Nebraska-Northwestern 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 Touch.

Nebraska (11-9, 3-6 Big Ten) enters Thursday's game after a week off following a 79-73 win at Iowa on Jan. 26. Brandon Richardson picked a perfect night to put together a career performance, as the senior totaled a career-high 25 points on 9-of-10 shooting. Richardson went 6-of-7 from long range, as he eclipsed the 20-point mark for the first time this season and the second time in his 109-game Husker career. In addition to his scoring output, he also matched his season best with six rebounds and dished out five assists in 37 minutes of action.

Richardson's effort keyed a Husker offense which enjoyed its best output in conference play with 79 points, including a 48-point second half. It was Nebraska's highest-scoring effort since putting up 83 points against Rhode Island on Nov. 20.

Thursday's game against Northwestern kicks off a key stretch in the schedule, as the Huskers will play four games over the next 10 days.

Northwestern (12-8, 2-6 Big Ten) looks to break a three-game losing streak following a 58-56 loss to Purdue on Saturday. Three of the Wildcats' six Big Ten losses have been by two points or less, including a one-point setback to Illinois and a two-point overtime loss at Michigan. Northwestern features two of the league's top three scorers in John Shurna (19.0 ppg) and Drew Crawford (17.2 ppg).

Husker Tipoff
Nebraska's 48 points in the second half at Iowa were a season best for points in any half this season (43 in the second half vs. Rhode Island and first half against Oregon). It is also one of the highest scoring halves in Doc Sadler's six seasons at Nebraska.

No.

Pts.

Opponent, Half

Half

Year

1.

51

Norfolk State

2nd

2007-08

2.

50

Maryland-Eastern Shore

2nd

2007-08

 

50

Alabama State

1st

2008-09

4.

49

Oklahoma State

2nd

2006-07

 

49

Western Kentucky

2nd

2006-07

 

49

at Hawai'i

2nd

2006-07

7.

48

at Iowa

2nd

2011-12

 

48

at Texas Tech

2nd

2008-09

 

48

Maryland Eastern Shore

2nd

2008-09

 

48

Colorado

2nd

2010-11

Last Time Out
Behind a career high 25 points from senior Brandon Richardson, Nebraska rallied in the second half for a 79-73 victory over Iowa on Jan. 26.

Richardson, a senior guard from Los Angeles, put together the most outstanding performance of his career, totaling 25 points on 9-of-10 shooting, including 6-of-7 from 3-point range, to help Nebraska come back from a double-figure first-half deficit. 

Richardson came up big in the game's decisive run, scoring six points in a 12-2 Husker spurt to help Nebraska erase a 61-56 deficit and take the lead for good. Richardson's 3-pointer started the run before Brandon Ubel hit a pair of free throws to pull the Huskers even at 61 with 5:29 left. Moments later, Richardson's 3-pointer put the Huskers ahead 66-63 before Dylan Talley's jumper gave Nebraska a five-point lead with 3:26 left.

The Huskers had an answer for every Iowa rally down the stretch, as the Hawkeyes cut the lead to two points three times, only to see Nebraska get either a big basket or a pair of free throws to keep Iowa at bay.

Iowa trailed 73-71, only to see Richardson slice the Hawkeye defense for a layup to make it a four-point game. The Hawkeyes pulled to within 75-73 with 1:07 left, but Toney McCray sealed the win with a pair of free throws. Nebraska went 13-of-16 from the foul line in the second half.

Bo Spencer joined Richardson in double figures with 16 points, as Nebraska shot 52 percent from the floor and out-rebounded the Hawkeyes, 34-27, to pick up its first win in Iowa City since 1941. Zach McCabe led four Hawkeyes in double figures with 20 points in the losing effort

Nebraska trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half and was down 38-31 at the break before using a strong start after halftime to get back into the game.  Nebraska came out of the break with a 7-0 run to pull even at 38 on a Spencer jumper. Nebraska then took its first lead since midway through the first half at 41-40 on a Richardson 3-pointer, but Iowa went on a 6-0 run and eventually built a 50-43 lead on a Devon Archie dunk before the Huskers fought back.

Scouting Northwestern
Under longtime coach Bill Carmody, Northwestern comes into Thursday's game looking to snap a three-game losing streak. The Wildcats are 12-8 overall and 2-6 in the Big Ten, but have had their share of close losses, losing three of their six Big Ten games by a total of five points.

The Wildcats, who were coming off a 20-win season and a quarterfinal appearance in the NIT,  opened the year with seven straight wins, including the championship of the Charleston Classic, and won 10 of their first 11 before falling to Creighton in their final non-conference game.

Northwestern split its first two Big Ten games before a 57-56 loss to Illinois and a 66-64 overtime loss at Michigan put the Wildcats at 1-3. Northwestern then snapped Michigan State's 15-game win streak with an 81-74 win over the sixth-ranked Spartans. Since then, Northwestern has dropped its last three, including a 58-56 loss to Purdue on Saturday.

Carmody, who spent the previous four seasons as the head coach at Princeton before taking over the Wildcats, has an offensive attack that features two of the Big Ten's top three scorers. Senior forward John Shurna leads the conference in scoring at 19.0 points per game, as he shoots 42 percent from 3-point range and grabs a team-high 5.9 rebounds per game. Junior David Crawford is third in the Big Ten in scoring at 17.2 ppg, while also grabbing 4.8 rebounds per game. Those two players combine for 56 percent of Northwestern's total shots in Big Ten action.  Freshman point guard Dave Sobolewski is the only other player averaging more than six points per game, as he is at 7.8 ppg and ranks eighth in the league in assists at 3.9 per game.

Nebraska-Northwestern Series History
Entering this season, Nebraska and Northwestern have met only four times which is the second-shortest series of any Big Ten program (three vs. Penn State). Thursday's matchup will be the first since a 61-52 win over Northwestern in the 1999 Hoop and Quill Classic in St. Charles, Mo. In that game, Danny Walker led Nebraska with 19 points, including 9-of-12 shooting from the foul line, while Kimani Ffriend finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots. Nebraska held Northwestern to 34 percent shooting and out-rebounded the Wildcats, 51-32. The Huskers will look to extend a three-game win streak over Northwestern that dates back to the 1975-76 campaign.  Northwestern is the second of Nebraska's four single-play opponents (Indiana, Michigan and at Purdue) during the 2011-12 season.

Richardson Earns Big Ten Honor
Brandon Richardson became the Huskers' first-ever Big Ten weekly award winner in basketball, as he was the Big Ten Co-Player of the Week on Jan. 30.  Richardson, who shared the honor with Michigan State's Draymond Green, became the first Husker since Aleks Maric in 2008 to be named conference player of the week.

Richardson had a career night at Iowa on Jan. 26, scoring 25 points on 9-of-10 shooting and adding six rebounds and five assists in the Huskers' 79-73 win in Iowa City. Richardson was 6-of-7 from 3-point range, as his six 3-pointers were the most by a Husker since the 2006-07 season, while his 25-point night easily surpassed his previous season (15 vs. Central Michigan) and career (20 at Texas Tech on Jan. 22, 2011) bests. Richardson set season highs in points, rebounds and 3-pointers in the Huskers' win. He also had six points in Nebraska's 12-2 second-half run to take control and earn the program's first win in Iowa City since 1941.

Huskers Look to Generate Offense
For the 2011-12 Huskers, the key to success has been at the offensive end. Nebraska enters Thursday's game with a 10-2 record when scoring at least 60 points, but is just 1-7 when not reaching that threshold.

In Big Ten action, Nebraska has averaged just 55.3 points per game with four of the Huskers first nine games coming against Wisconsin (No. 1 nationally in scoring defense) and Ohio State (No. 7 in scoring defense), the league's top two teams in scoring defense. In Nebraska's three Big Ten wins, the Huskers have scored 70 points and had not topped 55 points in any of the six losses.

Winning on the Road
For the Huskers to continue to climb in the Big Ten standings, Nebraska will have to play well on the road. The Huskers are 3-4 away from the Devaney Center this season, a vast improvement over the 2-20 mark on the road over the past two seasons, and had chances to win in each of their last two road setbacks (at Illinois, at Wisconsin).

With a win at Northwestern on Thursday night, the Huskers can win consecutive road games for the first time since the 2008-09 season and match the program's highest road victory total since going 6-6 away from the Devaney Center in 1998-99.

Healthier Players, Healthier Offense
The Huskers were short-handed to begin Big Ten play, as Nebraska was without two of its top three scorers at the time (Jorge Brian Diaz and Dylan Talley) because of injuries. Both players missed the Huskers' final two non-conference games and NU contests against No. 11 Wisconsin, No. 16 Michigan State and No. 6 Ohio State before returning to the lineup on Jan. 7. Since both players returned, the Huskers are 3-3 with two of the losses being decided on the road (at Illinois and at Wisconsin) in the final 30 seconds.

Nebraska is shooting significantly better with the return of Diaz and Talley in the fold, hitting at a 42.5 percent clip after shooting 32.5 percent in the first three league contests. Talley is averaging 8.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while Diaz is averaging 6.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per contest.

The pair has given the Huskers a solid seven-player rotation and also boosted NU's bench production, as NU has averaged 16.0 points per game from its bench after averaging just 6.6 points from their bench in the previous five contests.

Games

PPG

FG Pct.

RPG

Reb, Diff.

First 3 Big Ten Games

45.0

.325

24.3

-13.0

W/Diaz & Talley

60.5

.425

31.3

-0.5

 

Comeback Kids
Nebraska has showed the knack for a comeback in 2011-12, rallying from three double-digit deficits. On Dec. 10 at TCU, Nebraska rallied from a 10-point first-half deficit in posting a 69-57 victory. On Jan. 18, the Huskers were down by 13 early in the second half to No. 11 Indiana and trailed by 11 with six minutes remaining before coming back with an 18-6 spurt to pull out the 71-70 win.  The last time out, the Huskers overcame an 11-point first-half deficit to down Iowa, 79-73.

  • Nebraska now has eight double-figure comebacks under Doc Sadler, including a 20-point comeback against USC in 2010-11 - matching the largest comeback in school history.
  • The Jan. 18 win over Indiana was the first double-digit comeback against a ranked team since overcoming an 11-point deficit to fourth-ranked Oklahoma State on Feb. 22, 2005.

Taking Advantage at the Stripe

One area where the Huskers have been proficient is at the free throw line, where Nebraska's 75.0 percent rate leads the Big Ten and ranks 21st nationally in the latest NCAA rankings released Monday.

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 are some quick facts on Nebraska's prowess from the line.

  • Nebraska has shot 70 percent or better from the line in 15 of 20 contests and 80 percent or better seven times. The Huskers have shot under 70 percent in consecutive games once this season.
  • Three Huskers are shooting over 80 percent from the line this season, Bo Spencer (87.8 percent), Dylan Talley (84.8 percent) and Brandon Ubel (80.9). Spencer is on pace to be Nebraska's best free throw shooter since Cary Cochran led the nation at 92.2 percent in 2001-02.
  • The Huskers have been at their best in the clutch, hitting 77 percent (75-of-97) 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 20.0 attempts in its 11 wins, but just 12.1 attempts in its nine losses, including twice against Wisconsin on Jan. 15.

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 for Nebraska, averaging 14.9 points, 3.6 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game, while shooting a league-high 87.8 percent from the foul line.

Spencer has been an iron man for the Huskers, averaging 33.3 minutes per game which is the highest total by a Husker since Charles Richardson in 2006-07 (36.3 minutes per game) and the second most by a Husker in the last decade.

Spencer's 14.9 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 16 times, including five 20-point performances, which is the most by a Husker since the 2008-09 season. His most recent 20-point effort was a 23-point outburst versus No. 11 Indiana on Jan. 18.

He got off to a slow start in Big Ten play, averaging 10.0 points per game while shooting 26 percent in NU's first three games, but is averaging 15.3 ppg over the Huskers' last six contests. At Iowa, he had 16 points and four assists as Nebraska overcame an 11-point first-half deficit.

Spencer had 19 points, including 10-of-12 shooting from the foul line, and five assists in the win over Penn State on Jan. 11.  Against Wisconsin on Jan. 15, Spencer had 13 points and did not commit a turnover in 34 minutes, the second time this season and the fourth time in his career he has played at least 30 minutes and not committed a turnover. 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 halftime 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.

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.

Spencer Year by Year Totals

Year

PPG

APG

Asst-to-Turnover Ratio

RPG

Freshman

3.4

1.4

1.59-to-1

1.2

Sophomore

11.4

2.6

1.38-to-1

2.9

Junior

14.5

2.7

0.80-to-1

2.5

Senior

14.9

3.6

1.20-to-1

3.0

Big Ten Leaders - 20-Point Games (Career)

No.

Player, School

Career

2011-12

1

John Shurna, Northwestern

36

9

2.

Brandon Wood, Michigan State*

25

1

3.

Bo Spencer, Nebraska*

19

5

 

William Buford, Ohio State

19

6

5.

Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin

18

1

*-includes previous school

                                                                        

McCray Makes Most of 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 (10.1 ppg), rebounding (5.0 rpg) and field goal percentage (47 pct.), while also shooting 38 percent from 3-point range.

He has really excelled since he moved into the starting lineup after an injury to Jorge Brian Diaz in mid-December, as he leads NU in rebounding (6.1 rpg) and is second in scoring (13.0 ppg) over the last nine games.  He had been in double figures in seven straight games - the longest stretch of his career - before being held to seven points at Wisconsin on Jan. 15. 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 Jan. 7. He had 13 points and five rebounds in the win over Penn State on Jan. 11, and was one of four Huskers in double figures with 11 points, including two 3-pointers in Nebraska's 18-6 surge in the last six minutes, in the win over No. 11 Indiana on Wednesday. McCray had all eight of his points in the final 10 minutes in the comeback win at Iowa and also grabbed six rebounds.

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 on Dec. 31.

McCray, who ranks ninth on Nebraska's career 3-point percentage list,  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.

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 7.4 points, 2.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game, while he leads Nebraska and ranks third in the Big Ten in steals (2.0 per game).

Richardson enters this week's action in third place among active Big Ten players in career steals, and he is threatening 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.

With his two steals against Iowa, he broke a three-way tie for 10th on NU's career list and will match Jaron Boone for ninth place with his next steal.

Richardson has been active on the defensive end in Big Ten play, leading the league with 2.3 steals per game in Big Ten action, including a career-high seven steals at No. 6 Ohio State on Jan. 3. He helped key the upset of No. 11 Indiana with nine points and game highs in assists (five) and steals (three).

Richardson showed his offensive game at Iowa, totaling a career-high 25 points, including 6-of-7 from 3-point range, and added a season-high six rebounds and five assists. He has been a solid performer on the road in Big Ten play, averaging 11.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.0 steals per contest.  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.

Throughout his career, Richardson has been clutch from the free throw line, as he ranks third in school history with an 82.1 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. He has been aggressive at getting to the foul line in recent games, taking 34 free throw attempts in the last nine games after having 15 in the Huskers' first 10 games.

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 81-of-87 from the foul line in the final five minutes of games, a remarkable 93.1 percentage.

Diaz Gives Huskers Interior Presence
Junior center Jorge Brian Diaz has been a steady performer for the Huskers throughout his three-year career, and his presence was felt in his absence earlier this season.

The 6-foot-11 center is one of four Huskers averaging at least nine points per game, as he comes into Thursday's game averaging 8.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per contest. Diaz has come off the bench since missing five games with a foot injury and enjoyed his best game in the win over No. 18 Indiana on Jan. 11 with 10 points and four rebounds while hitting a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left to provide the winning margin. He had seven points in Thursday's win at Iowa.

Offensively, he has been in double figures six times and now has 37 career games in double figures. He ranks 50th on Nebraska's career scoring list with 761 points.

Defensively, he is tied for the Big Ten lead with 2.0 blocks per game and has had three or more blocks six times this season. Diaz 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 is on pace to be the first Husker since Kimani Ffriend in 2000-01 to average more than 2.0 blocks per game in a season and could become one of only five Huskers to average 2.0 blocks per game, joining Ffriend, Derrick Chandler, Venson Hamilton and Mikki Moore.

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. 

Talley is Huskers' Super Sub
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 9.0 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game in just 23.5 minutes of action. Talley, who missed five games with a thigh injury, returned to action against Illinois Jan. 7, and has averaged 9.5 points per game over the Huskers' last four contests. He has been in double figures twice in that span, a 12-point, five-rebound effort against Penn State on Jan. 11, and his best effort of the year against No. 11 Indiana on Jan. 18. In that game, he had 10 points, including eight in the final 5:19, as Nebraska came back from 11 points down and also matched his career high with nine rebounds and added two blocks.

Talley, who is hitting 36 percent from 3-point range, is also proficient at the line where he is hitting at an 84 percent clip.  Talley is averaging 9.7 points per game off the bench, but went scoreless in his only start of the season against Creighton on Dec. 4.

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 (Texas) 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.

Improving on Defense
One benefit to having Jorge Brian Diaz and Dylan Talley back has been on the defensive end. In the five games the duo missed, opponents shot 50 percent from the field. Since their return against Illinois, opponents are shooting just 43 percent from the floor over the past six games, including contests against the two highest scoring offenses in the Big Ten in Ohio State and Indiana. Against Ohio State, Nebraska held the Buckeyes to 44.1 percent shooting, its lowest effort in Big Ten play. Nebraska's best defensive effort came in a loss at Wisconsin, when the Huskers held the Badgers to 31.3 percent shooting.

Ubel Doing the Dirty work Inside
While Nebraska relies on its guards for the bulk of the offensive work, junior Brandon Ubel gives the Huskers a physical presence on the inside. The 6-foot-10 forward has started NU's last 10 games at center since Jorge Brian Diaz suffered a foot injury in early December.

On the season, he is averaging 6.4 points and a team-high 5.3 rebounds per game, ranking 12th in the league in rebounds. Ubel leads the Big Ten on the offensive glass, grabbing 2.6 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 8.6 rebounds, including 13 points and eight rebounds in the win over Alcorn State,  11 points and seven rebounds against Central Michigan on Dec. 20 and eight points and nine rebounds against No. 11 Wisconsin on Dec. 27. Ubel had struggled in recent games before breaking out against No. 6 Ohio State on Jan. 21 with eight points and a game-high eight rebounds.

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.

A Rare Loss Holding Opponents Under 50 Points
The 50-45 loss at Wisconsin on Jan. 15 marked only the second time since 1985 that Nebraska held a team to 50 points or less and lost. The only other time in that stretch was a 50-48 loss to Creighton on Dec. 11, 2004. The Huskers had won their last 37 games when holding an opponent to 50 points or less, including 32-0 under Doc Sadler. Prior to the Wisconsin game, NU had not lost a conference game when allowing 50 points or less since 1984.

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 3-6 in the nation's top league according to the RPI, the Huskers will be tested in a league that features five nationally ranked teams as well as nine teams in the top 51 of the RPI released Monday.

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 100 after collecting his 100th win at Iowa on Jan. 26. 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.

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