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Caleb Walker and the Huskers take on Penn State Saturday afternoon.
Courtesy: NU Media Relations
          Release: 02/10/2012
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Huskers Head to Penn State on Saturday

Game 24: at Penn State
Game Date: Feb. 11, 2012
Tipoff Time: 12:06 p.m. (central)
Venue:  Bryce Jordan Center
Capacity: 15,261

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

Head coach: Doc Sadler
                Record at Nebraska: 100-83 (6th year)
                Record at Division I: 148-101 (8th year)
                Career Record: 268-140 (14th year)

Penn State Nittany Lions
2011-12 Record: 10-15 (2-10 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Patrick Chambers
                Record at Penn State: 10-15 (1st year)
                Career Record: 52-43 (3rd year)

Huskers on TV/Radio/Internet
Television: ESPNU (DirecTV Ch. 208, Dish Ch. 141, Ch. 235 on Time Warner Cable; Ch. 220 on Cox Cable)

                Play-by-play: Mark Brown
                Expert Analysis: Tim McCormick
Internet: ESPN3.com
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 (Penn State feed): XM 193, Sirius 113

Huskers Head to Penn State on Saturday
The Nebraska men's basketball team wraps up a stretch of four games in 10 days Saturday afternoon, as the Huskers travel to University Park, Pa., to take on Penn State.

Tipoff is slated for Noon (central) and the game will be televised nationally on ESPNU with Mark Brown and Tim McCormick on the call. The game will also be available online at ESPN3.com and the WatchESPN App for select mobile devices.

Saturday's 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 Touch.

The Huskers (11-12, 3-9 Big Ten) come in looking to snap a three-game losing streak following a 62-46 loss to No. 22 Michigan Wednesday night. Nebraska shot 22 percent in the first half to fall behind 22-15, and Michigan used a 10-0 run early in the second half to build a 15-point lead, as the Huskers were unable to cut into the Wolverines lead. Bo Spencer led Nebraska with 13 points, while Dylan Talley added nine off the bench in a losing effort.

Nebraska has struggled at times to find offensive consistency this year, especially without center Jorge Brian Diaz, who has missed the last two games and is out indefinitely with an injury.  NU was held under 50 points for the fifth time this year on Wednesday, and got to the foul line just six times against the Wolverines. In Nebraska's three Big Ten wins, Nebaska has gotten to the line an average of 24 times, while averaging just over 11 free throw attemps in its nine losses.

Penn State (10-15, 2-10 Big Ten) comes into Saturday's game looking to snap a five-game losing streak following a 77-57 loss at Michigan State on Wednesday evening. Junior guard Tim Frazier had 19 points and six assists in the loss to the Spartans, and is among the Big Ten leaders in both scoring (18.3 ppg) and assists (6.3 apg).

This is the second meeting of the season between the Huskers and Nittany Lions, as Nebraska posted a 70-58 win in Lincoln on Jan. 11.

Husker Tip Off
9
th

Wednesday's game against Michigan was the ninth time this season that junior Brandon Ubel has had at least four offensive rebounds in a game.  Ubel, who leads the Big Ten in offensive rebounding at 2.8 per game, has 64 offensive rebounds on the season.  Only All-Big 12 center Aleks Maric has had more in Doc Sadler's six seasons at Nebraska.

No.

Off. Reb.

Name

Year

1.

131

Aleks Maric

2007-08

2.

75

Aleks Maric

2006-07

3.

60

Brandon Ubel

2011-12


2
Number of players in the Big Ten who average better than 2.0 steals per game in league play, as Brandon Richardson (2.3) and Penn State's Tim Frazier (2.1) square off on Saturday afternoon.

Last Time Out
Zack Novak's 14 points led three Wolverines in double figures, as No. 22 Michigan topped Nebraska, 62-46 at the Devaney Center.

Novak, who hit five of his seven shots from the floor, scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half, as the Wolverines built a 22-15 halftime lead and took control with a 10-0 run early in the second half.

Nebraska was within 22-17 after a Brandon Ubel basket with 19:38 remaining, but Jordan Morgan keyed a 10-0 run over the next 4:33, scoring six of his eight points in a 10-0 surge as Michigan built a 32-17 lead with 15:05 left.

Stu Douglass and Trey Burke joined Novak in double figures with 13 and 12 points, respectively, as Michigan shot 52.2 percent on the night, including 11-of-24 from 3-point range.

Bo Spencer paced Nebraska with 13 points, as Nebraska shot 39 percent, including 22 percent in the first half. Brandon Ubel grabbed nine rebounds for Nebraska, which out-rebounded Michigan, 29-22.

Michigan started hot from 3-point range, as consecutive 3-pointers from Novak and a Douglass 3-pointer gave the Wolverines an early 9-2 lead. Michigan eventually built an 11-4 lead as Nebraska missed 11 of its first 12 shots from the floor before Brandon Richardson led the Huskers back. The senior guard scored seven straight points for the Huskers, as his 3-point play pulled Nebraska within 13-11.  Nebraska eventually trimmed the lead to 16-15 after a Caleb Walker basket, but a Douglass 3-pointer started a 6-0 run for the Wolverines to close the half leading 22-15.  Nebraska stayed in the game because of its effort on the defensive end, holding Michigan to 32 percent in the first half.

Scouting Penn State
The Nittany Lions come into Saturday's game with a 10-15 record following a 77-72 loss against No. 11 Michigan State on Wednesday. Penn State has dropped its last five games since a 54-52 win over nationally-ranked Illinois on Jan. 19. The Nittany Lions have been on a tough road stretch, playing four of their last five games on the road, as four of those contests were against ranked foes.  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 (6.3) and ranks second in the league in both scoring (18.3) and steals (2.1) while topping the team in rebounding (4.8).  Frazier already has a conference-best 12 20-point efforts this season, including a career high 30-point effort against the Huskers in January. Penn State's other double figure scorer comes off the bench, as Jermaine Marshall averages 10.3 points per game. Cammeron Woodyard (8.5 ppg) and Billy Oliver (6.8 ppg) pace the regulars from 3-point range as both players shot at least 34 percent from long range.

Nebraska-Penn State Series History
Saturday's meeting is only the fifth matchup between the Huskers and Nittany Lions - the two most recent members of the Big Ten. The two teams have split the first four meetings following Nebraska's 70-58 win at the Devaney Center on Jan. 11. 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 other meeting before this season came in the second round of the 1995 NIT at the Devaney Center in a 65-59 PSU win.

In that matchup, Bo Spencer's 19 points led four Nebraska players in double figures, as the Huskers shot 55 percent and got to the free throw line a season-high 29 times. Spencer was 10-of-12 from the charity stripe and 4-of-8 from the field while also dishing out a game-high five assists to pace the Big Red. Seniors Toney McCray (13 points) and Caleb Walker (12 points) joined Spencer in double figures, while junior Dylan Talley came off the bench to score 12 points and grab five rebounds.

Huskers Look to Generate Offense
For the 2011-12 Huskers, the key to success has been at the offensive end. Nebraska enters Saturday's game against Penn State with a 10-4 record when scoring at least 60 points, but is just 1-8 when not reaching that threshold. In Nebraska's three Big Ten wins, the Huskers have scored 70 or more points, but have been held under 65 points in eight of their nine losses.

Huskers Battling Health issues
The Huskers have battled health issues during Big Ten play, as Nebraska was without Dylan Talley (thigh) and Jorge Brian Diaz (feet) for a five-game stretch, including NU's first three conference games, before both returned against Illinois on Jan. 7. The Huskers went 3-4 with Talley and Diaz back in the lineup, as two of the losses being decided on the road (at Illinois and at Wisconsin) in the final 30 seconds. Diaz has missed the last two games with a recurrence of the injury and is out for an indefinite period of time.

The absence of Diaz on the inside has not only shorted the Huskers' rotation, but also took away a vital part of Nebraska's attack. NU averaged 65 points per game and shooting nearly 45 percent with Diaz in the lineup, while averaging 53.4 points on 38 percent in the seven contests Diaz missed with injuries.

In addition to missing Diaz, the Huskers have also been without backup center Andre Almeida, as he has not played this season because of a knee injury suffered in the 2011 Big 12 Tournament.

Games

PPG

FG Pct.

RPG

Reb, Diff.

With Diaz

65.0

.447

33.2

+2.0

Without Diaz

53.4

.384

27.1

-3.6


Husker Quick Hits
•-Brandon Richardson is averaging 11.8 points per game on 62 percent shooting, 3.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.0 steals in the Huskers' last four contests after averaging 4.8 points per game in Nebraska's previous four contests.

  • -Bo Spencer has been more active in getting to the free throw line in recent weeks, averaging 6.6 attempts in Nebraska's last eight games after getting to the line just four times in Nebraska's first four conference games. Spencer has taken advantage of the opportunities, as he is second in the Big Ten in free throw percentage (88.6) in league play.
  • -Toney McCray looks to bounce back afrer being held to four points on Wednesday - his lowest output since moving into the starting lineup in mid December. In the two previous games, he averaged 15.5 points on 48 percent shooting, including 40 percent from 3-point range.
  • -Nebraska is shooting 86 percent from the foul line (24-of-28) over the last three games. That stretch was highlighted by a 12-of-13 performance against Minnesota on Sunday. The effort was Nebraska's best free throw shooting effort (10 attempt min.) of the season and the best since going 10-for-10 at Baylor in the 2009 Big 12 Tournament opener. The Huskers' one miss from the line was by Toney McCray, which he got the offensive rebound and a basket on the play.

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 75.8 percent rate leads the Big Ten and ranks 14th 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 this season:

  • Nebraska has shot 70 percent or better from the line in 18 of 23 contests and 80 percent or better nine times this season. 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 (87.5 percent), Dylan Talley (85.7 percent) and Brandon Ubel (81.6). Spencer is on track to finish in the top five on Nebraska's single-season free throw chart.
  • The Huskers have been at their best in the clutch, hitting 77 percent (81-of-105) 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 NU has averaged 20.0 attempts in its 11 wins, but just 12.3 attempts in its 12 losses, including six times in Wednesday's loss.

Spencer Makes the Point for the Huskers
The focal point of Nebraska's offensive attack has been senior point guard Bo Spencer. The 6-foot-2 guard has made the most of his only season at Nebraska after transferring from LSU. He leads the Huskers in scoring at 15.3 points per game, while also adding 3.4 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game while ranking second in the Big Ten in free throw percentage (87.5).

Spencer has been an iron man for the Huskers, averaging 33.6 minutes per game which is the highest total by a Husker since Charles Richardson in 2006-07 (36.3 minutes per game).

Spencer's 15.3 ppg is on pace to be the highest scoring average by a Husker guard since the 2004-05 campaign. He reached double figures a team-high 19 times, including six 20-point performances, which is the most by any Husker since the 2007-08 season. His latest 20-point effort came at Northwestern on Feb. 2, as he scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half to help Nebraska trim a 15-point halftime deficit to one. It was his second 20-point night in Big Ten play, as he also had 23 points in a win over No. 11 Indiana on Jan. 18.

Spencer 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 16.3 ppg on 42 percent shooting over the Huskers' last nine contests. He had 13 points in Wednesday's loss to No. 22 Michigan.

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. 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 SEC championship squad in 2008-09, as the Tigers reached the second round before falling to eventual champion North Carolina.

Big Ten Active Leaders - 20-Point Games (Career)

No.

Player, School

Career

2011-12

1

John Shurna, Northwestern

38

11

2.

Brandon Wood, Michigan State*

25

1

3.

Bo Spencer, Nebraska*

20

6

 

William Buford, Ohio State

20

7

5.

Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin

19

2

*-includes previous school

Huskers Learn to Win 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 3-5 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 road setbacks at Illinois and Wisconsin, as both games were a one-possession contest in the last minute. With a win at Penn State on Saturday, the Huskers can match the program's highest road victory total since going 6-6 away from the Devaney Center in 1998-99.

 McCray Makes Most of Starting Role
Fifth-year senior Toney McCray has overcome a pair of injuries 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 (10.3 ppg), rebounding (4.9 rpg) and field goal percentage (47 pct.), while also shooting 38 percent from 3-point range. McCray is second on the team in both scoring and rebounding and among the league leaders in both categories.

He originally moved into the lineup when Jorge Brian Diaz missed five games earlier in the season with an injury, and has started ever since. He tops the Huskers in rebounding (5.9 rpg) and is second in scoring (11.8 ppg) since moving into the starting lineup. McCray was held in check against Michigan, finishing with four points after averaging 15.5 points per game in Nebraska's previous two contests, including 16 points at Northwestern on Feb. 2.

McCray moved into the lineup in mid-December and then promptly put together seven straight games in double figures - 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 Jan. 18.

During non-conference play, 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 at 39 percent over his career,  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 66 percent from the foul line this season, the best percentage of his career.

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, 2.8 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game, while he leads Nebraska and ranks third in the Big Ten in steals (2.0 per game).

Richardson enters this weekend'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 steals in his career.

With one steal against Michigan on Wednesday, he raised his career steals total to 136 steals and is now two away from moving past Larry Florence (137, 1997-2000) into sole possession of eighth place on NU's career list.

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). He has multiple steals in eight of Nebraska's 12 league games.

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 closed non-conference play with a strong performance 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 82.0 career percentage from the charity stripe and is one of only five players in program history to shoot over 80 percent for a career. 

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.

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.

Talley is Huskers' Scoring Sixth Man
Junior college transfer Dylan Talley has provided the Huskers with a boost off the bench in his first season at Nebraska, and comes into Saturday's game ranked third on the team in scoring at 9.1 points per game, while also chipping in 3.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. He is hitting 37 percent from 3-point range and has been proficient at the line where he is hitting at an 86 percent clip.  

Talley, who missed five games with a thigh injury earlier, returned to action against Illinois Jan. 7, and has regained his early-season form, averaging 9.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game in Nebraska's last eight contests.  He has been in double figures three times 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 finished with 13 points at Northwestern hitting 5-of-7 shots from the floor and totaled nine points against Michigan on Tuesday, going 3-of-4 from 3-point range.

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.

Ubel Doing the Dirty Work Inside
While Nebraska relies on its guards for the bulk of the offensive output, junior Brandon Ubel gives the Huskers a physical presence on the inside. The 6-foot-10 forward has started NU's last 14  games at center since Jorge Brian Diaz suffered a foot injury in early December.

On the season, he is averaging 6.2 points and a team-high 5.6 rebounds per game, ranking eighth in the league in rebounds. His rebounding total is on pace to be the best by a Husker in the last four seasons.  Ubel tops the Big Ten on the offensive glass, grabbing 2.8 rebounds per game, and has 10 games this season with at least seven rebounds, including nine rebounds in Wednesday's loss to No. 22 Michigan.

Ubel's best rebounding effort came against Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 7, when he grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds and added 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 is also solid at the free throw line, hitting 82 percent this season and is one of five players in school history to hit 80 percent for their career.

An overlooked part of Ubel's game is his passing abilities, as he has 26 assists this year after totaling just 22 assists in his first two seasons at Nebraska. He had his second five assist effort at Northwestern on Feb. 2, the second time this season he has had five assists in a game.

Huskers Look for Interior Presence with Diaz Sidelined
For the second time this season, the Huskers are battling through injury issues at the center spot, as Jorge Brian Diaz is likely to miss extended time with an injury.

The 6-foot-11 center is Nebraska's fourth-leading scorer at 8.6 points per game while he also averages 4.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per contest in 16 contests. Since originally returning to the lineup on Jan. 8, he had come off the bench in seven games, helping NU to a 3-4 mark, before missing the last two games.

He enjoyed his best game in that stretch in the win over No. 11 Indiana on Jan. 18 when he had 10 points and four rebounds while hitting a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left to provide the winning margin. It was the sixth time he had been in double figures this season and has 37 career games in double figures. He ranks 47th on Nebraska's career scoring list with 765 points, matching Bus Whitehead's total from 1948 to 1950.

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.

Defensively, he was second in the Big Ten with 1.9 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. 

With Diaz out, the bulk of the minutes inside are going to junior Mike Fox, who has set career highs in minutes in each of the last two games. Against Michigan on Wednesday, he totaled two points and two rebounds in a career-high 17 minutes. In addition, Christopher Niemann will see additional action, as he played six minutes against Michigan.

Winning the Close Wins
With an experienced team, Nebraska has shown the ability to win the close games this year, going 4-1 in games decided by three points or less in 2011-12, including a pair of one-point wins (vs. Florida Gulf Coast and No. 11 Indiana). Last year, the Huskers were just 4-5 in games decided by three points or less, including a 3-2 mark in one-point games.

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 3-9 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 eight teams in the top 50 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.

Suits and Sneakers on Saturday for Husker Coaching Staff
The Husker basketball coaching staff will be in suits and sneakers as part of Penn State's Coaches vs. Cancer Band Together game Saturday afternoon. The Huskers have annually participated in the Coaches vs. Cancer® Suits & Sneakers awareness weekend created by the American Cancer Society and National Association of Basketball Coaches, but this year's event last month was on the Huskers' scheduled off weekend in Big Ten play so they are doing the tribute for Saturday's game.

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