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Huskers Head to Purdue Wednesday
Toney McCray and the Huskers head to Purdue on Wednesday.
Photo Courtesy Scott Bruhn/NU Media Relations
Courtesy: NU Media Relations
02/21/2012
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Game 26: at Purdue
Game Date: Feb. 22, 2012
Tipoff Time: 5:31 p.m. (central)
Venue:  Mackey Arena
Capacity: 14,123

Nebraska Cornhuskers
2011-12 Record: 12-13 (4-10 Big Ten)

Head coach: Doc Sadler
                Record at Nebraska: 101-84 (6th year)
                Record at Division I: 149-102 (8th year)
                Career Record: 269-141 (14th year)

Purdue Boilermakers
2011-12 Record: 17-10 (7-7 Big Ten)
Head Coach: Matt Painter
                Record at Purdue: 155-74 (7th year)
                Career Record:  180-79 (8th year)

Huskers on TV/Radio/Internet
Television: Big Ten Network
(Ch. 610 on DirecTV; Chs. 439, 9500 on DISH; Chs. 24 and 333-SH, 1333-HD on Time Warner Cable; Chs. 80   SD, 1080-HD on Cox Cable)
                Play-by-play: Eric Collins
                Expert Analysis: Dan Bonner
Live Video: BTN2Go App and BTN2Go.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 (Purdue feed): XM 190, Sirius 92

Huskers Head to Purdue Wednesday
Following a 23-point win over Illinois, the Nebraska men's basketball team hits the road Wednesday night, as the Huskers travel to Purdue for a matchup with the Boilermakers.

Tipoff is slated for 5:30 p.m. (central) and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network with Eric Collins and Dan Bonner on the call.  The game will also be available on BTN.com and the BTN2Go App on select mobile devices.

Wednesday's Nebraska-Purdue 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 (12-13, 4-10 Big Ten) face off with the Boilermakers for the first time since December of 1979, while Nebraska's game at Purdue is the Huskers' first game in the state of Indiana since Jan. 3, 1985 (at Evansville). It will be Nebraska's first trip to the state in a three-week span, as the Big Ten Tournament takes place in Indianapolis next month.

Nebraska is looking for its fourth road win of the season, as the Huskers are coming off their best performance of the year on Saturday afternoon in an 80-57 win. Nebraska shot 56 percent from the floor, including 10-of-20 from 3-point range, while placing three players in double figures.  Bo Spencer led NU with 27 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including five 3-pointers. Caleb Walker and Brandon Richardson joined Spencer in double figures with 13 and 12 points, respectively.  Walker, who has been in double figures in Nebraska's last two games, has provided a spark for the Husker offense. The senior guard is averaging 12.5 points per game in NU's last two games after coming into this stretch averaging 6.5 points per contest. The Huskers are 5-1 this season when he reaches double figures.

Purdue (17-10, 7-7 Big Ten) looks to bounce back following a 76-62 loss to Big Ten leader Michigan State on Sunday that snapped a two-game win streak. Purdue is in sole possession of sixth place in the Big Ten standings entering the final two weeks of the regular season. Senior forward Robbie Hummel had 24 points and 15 rebounds to pace the Boilermakers against Michigan State and averages 16.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.

Husker Tipoff
23
Nebraska's 23-point win over Illinois on Saturday was the Huskers' fifth-largest margin of victory in conference play in the last 20 years and the largest since a 72-44 win over Texas Tech in 2004.

No.

Margin

Opponent

Score

Date

1.

+29

Colorado

106-67

1/8/94

2.

+28

Texas A&M

97-69

2/28/01

 

+28

Texas Tech

72-44

2/24/04

4.

+26

Kansas State

82-56

2/14/01

 

+26

Baylor

76-47

1/21/04

5.

+23

Illinois

80-57

2/18/12

 

+23

Missouri

76-53

1/18/97

7.

+22

Kansas State

73-51

1/17/09

 

+22

Kansas State

78-56

1/12/95

9.

+21

Texas A&M

87-68

2/27/98

 

+21

Colorado

71-50

1/20/07

 

+21

Kansas State

80-59

2/13/93


Last Time Out

Spencer went 9-of-11 from the floor, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range, as Nebraska used a 43-7 surge to overcome an early deficit and snap a four-game losing streak.

Caleb Walker had 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting, five rebounds and a career high four steals, while Brandon Richardson added 12 points and six assists, as Nebraska shot 56 percent from the field and 10-of-20 from long range.

Nebraska trailed 24-16 after a Meyers Leonard basket with 8:35 left in the first half, but took control from that point. Spencer's two 3-pointers keyed a 14-0 Husker run, as Nebraska took the lead for good at 25-24 after a steal and dunk by Walker. Nebraska eventually led 30-24 before D.J. Richardson's jumper snapped a 7:22 scoreless stretch for the visitors. Brandon Richardson then extended the Huskers' lead to 33-26 with a 3-pointer of his own on the next possession, as Nebraska closed the half on a 17-2 run.

The Huskers kept the pressure on in the opening minutes of the second half, using a 19-2 run to build a 24-point lead. Toney McCray scored all eight of his points in the first 5:26 of the second half as the Huskers led 52-28 after a 3-pointer from Mike Fox and never trailed by less than 20 points the remainder of the afternoon.

D.J. Richardson led Illinois with 13 points while Tracy Abrams had 11 in a losing effort.

Illinois was on target early, hitting seven of its first nine shots from the floor to build a 16-7 lead before Nebraska's defense clamped down, holding Illinois to four of 12 shooting over the final 14 minutes of the first half.

Scouting Purdue
The Boilermakers come into Wednesday's game with a 17-10 record following a 76-62 loss to seventh-ranked Michigan State on Sunday. Matt Painter is in his seventh season on the Purdue bench and has guided the Boilermakers to five straight NCAA appearances, including Sweet 16 showings in 2009 and 2010.

Purdue, which went 26-8 last year and finished in second place in the Big Ten with a 14-4 record, won seven of their first eight games with the only blemish coming against Alabama in the Puerto Rico Tip-off in San Juan. After finishing non-conference play with a 10-3 mark, Purdue has been up and down in Big Ten play, never winning or losing more than two games in a row in conference play. The Boilermakers had won their last two games before falling to the league-leading Spartans on Sunday, but were without two of their top five scorers, as D.J. Byrd sat out because of a suspension while Kelsey Barlow was dismissed from the team on Friday. Purdue led 38-35 at halftime, but shot just 23 percent in the second half in Sunday's loss. The Boilermakers now sit in sixth place in the Big Ten standings at 7-7. Purdue is the Huskers' fourth single-play opponent on the Big Ten schedule (also Indiana, Michigan and Northwestern).

Purdue is led by one of the Big Ten's premier players in fifth-year senior Robbie Hummel. The 6-foot-8 forward leads Purdue in scoring (16.0 ppg) and rebounding (6.9 rpg) as well as a blocked shots (34). Hummel comes off a 24-point, 15-rebound effort in the loss to Michigan State on Sunday. Fellow senior Lewis Jackson averages 10.1 points and 4.1 assists per game while guiding an offense that leads the nation that commits a nation-leading 8.7 turnovers per game. Ryan Smith averages 9.3 points per game with a team-high 68 3-pointers as he shoots 42 percent from long range.

Nebraska-Purdue Series History
Wednesday's game between the Huskers and Purdue will be the ninth all-time meeting between the two programs and the first since 1979. Among Big Ten programs, only Nebraska's series with Iowa - which had not been played since 1976 - had been dormant longer than the Huskers' series with Purdue. The Boilermakers have won the last two meetings with Nebraska, sweeping a home-and-home series in 1978 (Lincoln) and 1979 (West Lafayette).   In the 1979 matchup, Keith Edmonson had 27 points on 11-for-13 shooting while Joe Barry Carroll had 16 points and seven rebounds, as Purdue shot 62 percent from the floor. Tim West had 22 points and six rebounds while Andre Smith had 13 points and eight rebounds in a losing effort for the Huskers.

Husker Quick Hits

  • Doc Sadler will be looking for his 150th Division I win against Purdue on Wednesday. Sadler is 149-102 in eight seasons as a Division I coach, including his two-year stint at UTEP.
  • Bo Spencer has played some of his best basketball away from the Devaney Center, as the senior guard is averaging 17.3 points per game and shooting 46 percent in NU's nine road games this season. Four of his seven 20-point efforts in 2011-12 have come on the road, including a career-high 29 points at Creighton on Dec. 4.
  • Nebraska's 80 points against Illinois marked only the fourth time in Doc Sadler's six years that Nebraska cracked 80 points in regulation in conference action and the first time it occurred since scoring 87 points in a loss at Kansas State on Feb. 17, 2010. NU's 80 points was the Huskers' highest conference home total in regulation since putting up 85 against Oklahoma on March 5, 2007.
  • Brandon Richardson is posting a 2.8-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio over Nebraska's last six games, a stretch where he is averaging 3.7 assists along with 10.8 points per game. In Big Ten play, Richardson has five or more assists seven times in Big Ten play after totaling two during his first three years of conference action. The 6-foot senior guard already has established a career high in assists this season with 75.
  • Bo Spencer is one assist and one steal away from tying career highs in both categories. Spencer's career high in assists is 87, set during his sophomore season at LSU, while his career best in steals was 33 set in 2010-11.
  • Caleb Walker's four steals on Saturday nearly doubled his entire conference total heading into the contest, as the 6-foot-4 guard had five steals in NU's first 14 conference games. Walker's consecutive games in double figures were his first since Jan. 8-12, 2011.
  • Brandon Ubel leads Nebraska and ranks second in the Big Ten with 66 offensive rebounds this season. His total is the most by a Husker since Aleks Maric had 131 in 2007-08.
  • Despite playing with a smaller lineup the past three games, NU is out-rebounding opponents by an average of 27.7-26.3 and has allowed only nine second-chance points in that span.
  • A win on Wednesday would give Nebraska its 1,400th win in program history.  

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 3-6 away from Lincoln 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 Purdue on Wednesday, the Huskers can match the program's highest road victory total since going 6-6 away from the Devaney Center in 1998-99.

Huskers Look to Generate Offense
For the 2011-12 Huskers, the key to success has been at the offensive end. Nebraska enters Wednesday's game at Purdue with an 11-4 record when scoring at least 60 points, but is just 1-9 when not reaching that threshold. In Nebraska's four Big Ten wins, the Huskers have scored 70 or more points, but have been held under 65 points in nine of their 10 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 now missed the last four 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 altered 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 53.1 points on 39 percent in the eight contests Diaz missed with injuries, going 2-6 in that span.

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.

Charity Begins at the Foul line
One area where the Huskers have been proficient this season is at the free throw line, where Nebraska's 75.1 percent rate is second in the Big Ten and ranks 25th nationally in the latest NCAA rankings.

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.

  • Nebraska has shot 70 percent or better from the line in 18 of 25 contests and 80 percent or better nine times this season.
  • Four Huskers are shooting over 80 percent from the line this season: Bo Spencer (88.0 percent); Brandon Ubel (81.6); Brandon Richardson (81.0) and Dylan Talley (80.5).
  • Spencer is on track to finish in the top five on Nebraska's single-season free throw chart and is the best since Cary Cochran shot 92.2 percent in 2001-02.
  • The Huskers have been solid in the clutch, hitting 74 percent (86-of-116) from the line in the last five minutes of games this season, as Bo Spencer and Brandon Richardson are both over 90 percent.

Nebraska's success has often been determined by its ability to get to the line. In the Huskers' 12 wins, Nebraska is averaging 19.6 attempts per game, but that number drops to 12.2 in the Huskers' 13 losses.

Spencer Makes the Point for the Huskers
The focal point of Nebraska's offensive attack has been senior 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 15.5 points per game, while also adding 3.4 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game while leading the Big Ten in free throw percentage (88.0).

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).

Spencer's 15.5 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 20 times, including seven 20-point performances, which is the most by any Husker in five years. His latest 20-point effort came last Saturday when he had 27 points, including a career-high five 3-pointers. It was his third 20-point effort in Big Ten action, as he had 24 at Northwestern on Feb. 2 and 23 in the 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 16.5 ppg on 45 percent shooting over the Huskers' last 11 conference contests.

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, 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.

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

40

13

2.

Brandon Wood, Michigan State*

25

1

3.

Bo Spencer, Nebraska*

21

7

 

William Buford, Ohio State

21

8

5.

Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin

19

2

 

Robbie Hummell

19

6

*-includes previous school

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 solid senior year. He is setting career bests in scoring (10.1 ppg), rebounding (4.7 rpg) and field goal percentage (46 pct.), while also shooting 35 percent from 3-point range.

He originally moved into the lineup in December when Jorge Brian Diaz missed five games earlier in the season with an injury, and has been in the lineup ever since. He tops the Huskers in rebounding (5.6 rpg) and is second in scoring (11.4 ppg) since moving into the starting lineup..

Once inserted into the lineup, he 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. 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. After scoring 13 points in losses to Michigan and Penn State, McCray bounced back with eight points and four rebounds against Illinois.

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.

McCray may have made his biggest contributions from the foul line in the double overtime win at USC on Nov. 14. A career 61 percent shooter from the line entering his senior year, McCray hit four clutch free throws at USC - two in the final minute of regulation and a pair with 2.8 seconds remaining in overtime - for his only points of the night in NU's 65-61 double overtime win. McCray is up to 67 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 7.3 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 second place among active Big Ten players in career steals with 139, 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. Richardson is now eighth on Nebraska's career steals list.

Richardson has been active on the defensive end in Big Ten play, ranking second in the league with 2.1 steals per game in Big Ten action, including a career-high seven steals at No. 6 Ohio State on Jan. 3. He has multiple steals in eight of Nebraska's 14 league games, including three steals in Nebraska's upset of No. 11 Indiana on Jan. 11.

He 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.  At Ohio State, he totaled 11 points and a career-high seven steals, the league's single-game high in 2011-12.  He now has 776 career points and is 24 points away from becoming the 46th player in school history to score 800 career points.

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 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 82.4 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 Wednesday's game ranked third on the team in scoring at 9.1 points per game, while also chipping in 3.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. He is hitting 37 percent from 3-point range and 80.5 percent from the foul line.

Talley leads all Big Ten reserves in scoring and has been in double figures nine times in his first year at Nebraska. He was slowed by a thigh injury which sidelined him for five games before returning to action against Illinois on Jan. 7. Talley has regained his early-season form, averaging 9.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game in Nebraska's last 11 contests. More importantly, he has been best in late game situations, scoring 65 percent of his points in the second half over the last nine games.

 He has been in double figures four times in that span, including 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 led the Huskers with 12 points at Penn State.

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, four rebounds, four assists and three steals against Oregon on Nov. 23.

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 16 games at center since Jorge Brian Diaz suffered a foot injury in early December.

On the season, he is averaging 6.1 points and a team-high 5.4 rebounds per game, ranking 11th in the league in rebounds. His rebounding total is on pace to be the best by a Husker in the last four seasons.  Ubel is second in the Big Ten on the offensive glass, grabbing 2.6 rebounds per game, and has 10 games this season with at least seven rebounds, including nine rebounds in the loss to No. 22 Michigan on Feb. 8.

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 30 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 four 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.

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 with 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots in a career-high 43 minutes.

Defensively, he was second in the Big Ten with 1.9 blocks per game at the time of his injury 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 three of the last four games. Against Illinois, he tied or set career bests in points (five), assists (two) and minutes (17). In addition, Christopher Niemann will see additional action, as he has averaged almost seven minutes per game in the last three games after playing a total of six minutes in the previous seven contests.

Winning the Close Ones
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.

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.

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 4-10 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 six teams in the top 45 of the RPI released Monday.

Home Sweet Home
Nebraska has been strong on its home court over the years and enjoyed an impressive home run under Coach Doc Sadler. In the past six seasons under Sadler, Nebraska has dominated to the tune of an 80-27 record (.748 winning percentage), but are just 9-7 at home this season following the victory over Illinois on Feb. 18. The seven home losses are the most since the Devaney Center opened during the 1976-77 season, as Nebraska will play its final home game of the season against Iowa on Feb. 29.

Last year, Nebraska tied a program record with 17 home wins, going 17-2 in the friendly confines of the Devaney Center. Facing non-conference opponents, the Huskers have been nearly unbeatable at home under Sadler, losing three times in 55 games, including a 26-game home win streak snapped on Nov. 23.

Nebraska Coach Doc Sadler
Doc Sadler is in his sixth season on the Husker sideline after leading Nebraska to an NIT appearance in 2010-11. Sadler has guided the Huskers to postseason appearances in three of the last four seasons, and his 89 wins in his first five seasons was the most by any Husker coach in his first five years at Nebraska. He is now in fourth place on Nebraska's career wins list with 101 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. His next win will be the 150th of his Division I coaching career.

Bo Spencer's 27-point effort paced three Huskers in double figures, as Nebraska put together its best performance of the season with an 80-57 win over Illinois Saturday afternoon at the Devaney Center.
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