Close Video
 
Dylan Talley and the Huskers take on Purdue on Thursday's Big Ten Tournament opener.
Courtesy: NU Media Relations
          Release: 03/06/2012
Send this article to a friend Print RSS

Huskers Face Purdue in Big Ten Tourney

Game 30:
 vs. Purdue (B1G Tourney)
Game Date: March 8, 2012
Tipoff Time: 7 p.m. (central)
Venue:  Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Nebraska Cornhuskers
2011-12 Record: 12-17 (4-14 Big Ten)

Head coach: Doc Sadler
                Record at Nebraska: 101-88 (6th year)
                Record at Division I: 149-106 (8th year)
                Career Record: 269-145 (14th year)

Purdue Boilermakers
2011-12 Record: 20-11 (10-8 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Matt Painter
                Record at Purdue: 158-75 (7th year)
                Career Record:  183-80 (8th 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: Dan Dakich

Live Video: ESPN3.com and WatchESPN App
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

Huskers Face Purdue in Big Ten Tourney
The Nebraska men's basketball team looks to keep its 2011-12 season going Thursday evening when the Huskers take on Purdue in the first round of the Big Tournament.  Tipoff from Bankers Life Fieldhouse (formerly Conseco Fieldhouse) is set for approximately 7 p.m. central and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 with Dave O'Brien and Dan Dakich on the call. The game will also be available on ESPN3.com and the WatchESPN App on select mobile devices. It is the second game of the night session and will begin 25 minutes following the conclusion of the Northwestern-Minnesota contest set for 4:30 p.m.

Thursday'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 (12-17, 4-14 Big Ten) come to Indianapolis looking to snap a four-game losing streak after falling at Minnesota, 81-69 on Saturday. In that game, Bo Spencer's 23 points led three Huskers in double figures, but Minnesota used a 9-0 second-half run to break open a 45-43 lead. Spencer had all 23 of his points in the second half, including a career-high seven 3-pointers, for his eighth 20-point game of the year.

One encouraging sign in the loss for the Huskers was that Toney McCray and Dylan Talley broke out of scoring slumps against the Gophers. Talley had 16 points off the bench for his best offensive day since November, while McCray's 14 points was the first double-figure effort since Feb. 5. More importantly, if Nebraska is going to make an extended run this week, the Huskers will need consistent offensive production.

Purdue (20-11, 10-8) comes into Thursday's game winning three of their last four games following a 85-74 loss at Indiana on Sunday. The Boilermakers, who won the first meeting with the Huskers by a score of 83-65 in West Lafayette on Feb. 22, are led by senior Robbie Hummel, who averages 16.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. He had 29 points and seven rebounds in the regular-season meeting.

The winner of Thursday's game will face third-seeded Ohio State Friday evening, as the Buckeyes earned a share of the Big Ten title with a 72-70 win over Michigan State in the regular-season finale.

Husker Tip Off

  • -Nebraska's 12-for-12 effort from the free throw line at Minnesota matched the best shooting effort by a Big Ten school this year. It marked Nebraska's best effort from the foul line since going 12-for-12 against Oklahoma on Jan. 17, 2007, and only the third time in Sadler's six seasons that the Huskers shot 100 percent from the line with a minimum of 10 attempts. The Huskers have been exceptional from the foul line over the last four games, hitting at a 91 percent clip (30-of-33).
  • -Nebraska's biggest challenge against Purdue will be looking to slow the Boilermakers down from 3-point range. Purdue hit 13 3-pointers in the first matchup and opponents are hitting at 44 percent during the Huskers' four-game losing streak.

Last Time Out
Despite a game-high 23 points from Bo Spencer, the Nebraska men's basketball team fell at Minnesota, 81-69 in the regular season finale.

Spencer scored all 23 of his points in the second half, including 7-of-12 from 3-point range, to pace three Huskers in double figures, but Minnesota used a balanced offense and timely 3-point shooting in the first half to snap a six-game losing streak.

Dylan Talley came off the bench to score 16 points and dish out five assists for NU, while Toney McCray added 14 points, as Nebraska hit a season-high 13 3-pointers in a losing effort.

Chip Armelin came off the bench to pace five Gophers in double figures, as he scored 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Rodney Williams added 16 points and eight rebounds. Minnesota shot 54 percent from the field, including 10-of-22 from 3-point range to pick up their first win since Feb. 5.

Both teams shot well in a high-paced first half, as Minnesota took a 38-30 lead to the locker room. Nebraska shot 52 percent from the floor, while the Gophers hit 48 percent, but went 7-of-14 from long range.  Nebraska hit seven of its first 10 shots from the floor and used a 7-0 run to take a 20-14 lead before the Gophers started connecting from long range as a part of a 18-2 spurt that stretched over the next seven minutes. A 3-pointer from Armelin and a four-point play from Austin Hollins gave the Gophers the lead. Talley's basket put the Huskers up 22-21, but Armelin hit consecutive 3-pointers as part of a 13-0 run that put Minnesota ahead 34-22 after a conventional three-point play from Ralph Sampson III.  The Huskers got to within 36-30 on Talley's third 3-pointer of the half, but Armelin hit two free throws with a second left to stake the Gophers an eight-point halftime lead. 

Minnesota built a 44-33 lead after Williams' 3-point play with 19:05 left before Spencer, who was saddled with foul trouble during the first half, connected on two straight from long range, pulling Nebraska within 44-39. The Huskers hit their first three shots from 3-point range in the second half and eventually pulled to within 45-43 after Richardson hit two shots after an intentional foul and had a chance to tie on the next possession, but could not get closer as Sampson's 3-point play started a 9-0 run for the Gophers that extended their lead to 54-43 after an Armelin basket.

Nebraska, which went a stretch of 8:30 without a field goal, broke the spell as Talley's 3-pointer pulled the Huskers within 60-50 with 7:47 left. NU was within 63-52, but Minnesota used an 8-0 run to take its largest lead at the time at 71-54 on a Joe Coleman layup with 4:21 left.  Nebraska made one last run, as consecutive 3-pointers from Spencer made it 71-60 and forced a Gopher timeout, but Armelin's basket started a 6-0 run to put the Gophers back up by 17.

Scouting Purdue
The Boilermakers come into Thursday's tournament opener with a 20-11 record following a 85-74 loss at Indiana in the regular-season finale. Purdue finished sixth in the Big Ten with a 10-8 mark, but closed the year by winning five of its final seven games, including a win at Big Ten tri-champion Michigan.

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 has been potent on the offensive end since dismissing Kelsey Barlow, averaging 74.8 points per game over the last five games.

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 (16.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.0 rpg) as well as a blocked shots (40). Hummel has been playing his best down the stretch, averaging 22.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game over Purdue's last five games. He had 29 points in Purdue's win over Nebraska and a 24-point, 15-rebound effort against Michigan State.  Fellow senior Lewis Jackson averages 10.5 points and 4.2 assists per game while guiding an offense that commits a nation-low 8.9 turnovers per game. Ryan Smith averages 9.4 points per game with a team-high 68 3-pointers as he shoots 43 percent from long range.

Nebraska-Purdue Series History
Thursday's game between the Huskers and Purdue will be the 10th all-time meeting between the two programs and first matchup at a neutral site. Purdue leads the all-time series, 7-2, and has won the last three meetings dating back to 1978. The Huskers' last win in the series was a 96-85 win in Lincoln on Dec. 5, 1964. Prior to the meeting in the regular season, the two teams has not met since 1979, and Nebraska had not played a game in the state of Indiana since Jan. 3, 1985 (at Evansville).

Last Matchup vs. Purdue (Feb. 22)
Robbie Hummel scored 18 of his game-high 29 points before halftime, as Purdue used a hot-shooting first half to down Nebraska, 83-65 in West Lafayette.  Hummel was 10-of-18 shooting from the floor and grabbed seven rebounds to lead five Purdue players in double figures. The Boilermakers shot 55 percent, including 13-of-29 from 3-point range, as Hummel went 4-of-10 from beyond the arc. D.J. Byrd went 5-of-8 from 3-point range while Ryne Smith added four 3-pointers. Purdue shot 63 percent in the first half in building a 47-30 halftime lead.  Bo Spencer led Nebraska with 19 points, hitting 8-of-14 shots from the floor, including a trio of 3-pointers, as Nebraska shot 52 percent from the floor and committed 10 turnovers in a losing effort.

Nebraska's Conference Tournament History
While this marks Nebraska's first Big Ten Tournament appearance, the Huskers are 16-34 all-time in conference tournaments dating back to the start of the Big Eight Conference tournament in 1977. NU's only conference tournament title was in 1994, when the Huskers beat Oklahoma, No. 3 Missouri and No. 23 Oklahoma State en route to the Big Eight title.

  • -Nebraska's last semifinal appearance came in the 2006 Big 12 Tournament when the Huskers defeated Missouri and Oklahoma before falling to eventual tournament winner Kansas.
  • -The Huskers are 2-5 in conference tournament action under Doc Sadler, picking up first-round wins in 2008 and 2010.
  • -As the No. 11 seed, Huskers would look to buck the trend, as no seed higher than six has won the Big Ten Tournament since it began in 1998. In fact, only two double-digit seeds (Illinois, No. 11 in 1999 and No. 10 Illinois in 2008) have reached the title game.
  • -While the tournament is at a neutral site, Nebraska is used to facing a homestate team in its tournament opener. Two years ago in Kansas City, the Huskers were the No. 12 seed in the Big 12 Tournament and facing fifth-seeded Missouri, but put together their best effort of the year in stunning the Tigers, 75-60 behind a then career-high 19 points from Brandon Richardson.
  • -This will be the second time in a five-day span that Nebraska and Purdue squared off at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. On Sunday, the Purdue women downed Nebraska, 74-70, in double overtime in the title game of the Women's Big Ten Tournament.

Husker Quick Hits
•-Doc Sadler will be looking for his 150th Division I win in Thursday's Big Ten Tournament opener. Sadler is 149-106 in eight seasons as a Division I coach, including his two-year stint at UTEP.

  • -Nebraska will be seeking its 1,400th win in program history on Saturday. The Huskers are 1,399-1,240 all-time heading into the 2012 Big Ten Tournament.
  • -Bo Spencer was at his best away from the Devaney Center, averaging 16.7 points per game on 46 percent shooting in Nebraska's 12 road games, including five 20-point efforts. The average is more impressive when you consider that he played only one half at Michigan State on Feb. 25.
  • -Spencer's 23-point second half at Minnesota on Saturday was one shy of Nebraska's school record for most points in a half. Spencer, who picked up two fouls in the first minute, went 7-of-11 from 3-point range in the final 20 minutes. The four players who hold the mark are also four of the Huskers' eight all-time leading scorers.
  • -Brandon Richardson is posting a 2.2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio over Nebraska's last nine games, a stretch where he is averaging 4.2 assists along with 8.4 points per game. He had five or more assists 10 times in Big Ten play after totaling two during his first three years of conference action.
  • -Richardson enters the Big Ten Tournament needing nine steals to move into 10th place on Nebraska's single-season list, while his 54 steals ranks ninth on Nebraska's senior list. If he gets three steals against Purdue, it would equal Nebraska's highest steals total since 2001.
  • -Brandon Richardson and Brandon Ubel are the only Huskers who have started all 29 games this season.
  • -Caleb Walker has been in double figures in three of the Huskers' last six games, including a 15-point effort on Wednesday night against Iowa. He is averaging 8.3 points per game in that stretch, above his 6.5 points per game average over his first 23 appearances this season.
  • -Nebraska is 12-9 this season when getting to the free throw line at least 10 times in a game, but is winless in eight contests when being held to under 10 attempts from the foul line. NU got to the line just three times in the first matchup with Purdue.
  • -Nebraska is 8-4 this season when holding an opponent under 45 percent shooting from the floor.
  • -Brandon Ubel leads Nebraska and ranks third in the Big Ten with 73 offensive rebounds this season. His total is the most by a Husker since Aleks Maric had 131 in 2007-08.
  • -Walk-on Mike Fox has come off the bench to give the Huskers depth, averaging 3.3 points per game on 43 percent shooting and 2.3 rebounds per game in Nebraska's last six contests. He led NU with five rebouds at Michigan State on Feb. 25, marking the third time in Sadler's six seasons a walk-on has led the Huskers in rebounds (Paul Velander-7, vs. Savannah State, 1/3/07; Drake Beranek-5 at Kansas State, 2/2/11).
  • -Nebraska's 80 points against Illinois on Feb. 18 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.

Huskers Look to Generate Offense
For the 2011-12 Huskers, the key to success has been at the offensive end. Nebraska enters the Big Ten Tournament with an 11-6 record when scoring at least 60 points, but is just 1-11 when not reaching that threshold. In Nebraska's four Big Ten wins, the Huskers have scored 70 or more points, but were held to 65 points or less in 12 of their 14 league losses.

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 76.3 percent rate tops in the Big Ten and is eighth 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.

  • Nebraska has finished in the top 10 in free throw shooting twice in school history (1967-68 and 1993-94).
  • Nebraska has shot 70 percent or better from the line in 22 of 29 contests and 80 percent or better 13 times this season
  • Nebraska went 12-of-12 from the free throw line at Minnesota, its highest total without a miss since Jan. 17, 2007, against Oklahoma when the Huskers also were perfect on 12 attempts.
  • Four Huskers are shooting over 80 percent from the line this season: Bo Spencer (87.1 percent); Brandon Richardson (82.8); Brandon Ubel (81.8); and Dylan Talley (81.8).
  • 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 75 percent (95-of-126) 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 11.3 in the Huskers' 17 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.

Spencer leads the Huskers in scoring at 15.1 points per game, while also adding 3.4 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game and shooting 87.1 percent from the foul line.

He has been an iron man for the Huskers, averaging 32.6 minutes per game as only one Husker has averaged more minutes in the last decade (Charles Richardson, 36.3 minutes per game in 2006-07).

Spencer's 15.1 ppg is on pace to be the highest scoring average by a Husker guard since the 2004-05 season (Joe McCray, 15.5 ppg). He reached double figures a team-high 22 times, including eight 20-point performances, which is the most by any Husker in six years.

Spencer picked up his fourth 20-point game in Big Ten play with 23 points at Minnesota on March 3. He had all 23 of his points in the second half, which is one off Nebraska's record for scoring in a single half. Spencer also went 7-of-12 from 3-point range, which was also one shy of Nebraska's single-game record.

He also had 27 points against Illinois on Feb, 18, 24 points at Northwestern on Feb, 2 and 23 points in a win over No. 11 Indiana on Jan. 18.

In conference play, he led NU and tied for 12th in scoring at 14.6 points per game while also finishing second in free throw percentage (87.8), fifth in 3-pointers made per game (2.0) and 13th in steals per game (1.2).

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 with a 22-point effort, as he hit 7-of-12 shots from the floor. 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.

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 - Career 20-Point Games (as of March 4)

No.

Player, School

Career

2011-12

1

John Shurna, Northwestern

42

15

2.

Brandon Wood, Michigan State*

25

1

3.

Bo Spencer, Nebraska*

22

8

 

William Buford, Ohio State

22

9

5.

Robbie Hummel, Purdue

21

8

6.

Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin

20

3

*-includes previous school

Richardson Puts Together Solid Senior Season
While Brandon Richardson doesn't lead the Huskers in any offensive category, his versatility is his greatest asset. The fifth-year senior averages 7.1 points, 3.3 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game, while he leads Nebraska and ranks third in the Big Ten in steals (1.9 per game).

Richardson enters the Big Ten Tournament in third place among active Big Ten players in career steals with 145, and he is bidding 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 2.0 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 12 of the Huskers' 18 league contests and played a major role in Nebraska leading the Big Ten in steals with 7.0 per game in conference action.

Richardson has become more of an offensive force in recent weeks, averaging 8.4 points on 43 percent shooting and 4.2 assists per game in Nebraska's last 10 games. He is also 14-of-29 from 3-point range in that span.

He began his hot streak at Iowa on Jan. 26, 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 hit multiple 3-pointers four times in that stretch, including 3-for-3 from beyond the arc at Purdue on Feb. 22.

Richardson now has 792 career points and is eight 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 82.7 career percentage from the charity stripe and is one of only five players in program history to shoot over 80 percent for a career.  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.

McCray Makes Most of Starting Role
Fifth-year senior Toney McCray has overcome numerous injuries during his career to enjoy a solid 2011-12 season. He missed almost the entire 2009-10 season following elbow surgery and battled plantar fasciitis last year before undergoing surgery last summer, forcing him to miss all of summer workouts.

McCray has enjoyed a healthy senior year and has put up the best numbers of his career, averaging 9.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game despite playing out of position for most of the year. The 6-foot-6 guard/forward showed signs of breaking out of a slump with a 14-point effort at Minnesota on Saturday, his first double-figure effort since Feb. 5. In that stretch, he averaged 6.3 points per game after averaging 12.4 points per game in the previous 13 contests.

He originally moved into the lineup in December when Jorge Brian Diaz missed five games with a foot injury, and the Huskers have been forced to rely on a smaller lineup. Once he moved into a starting role, McCray put together seven straight games in double figures - the longest stretch of his career. 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 had 16 points and five rebounds at Northwestern on Feb. 2. In the first matchup with Minnesota, he totaled 15 points and six rebounds.

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 71 percent from the foul line this season, the best percentage of his career, including 83 percent over the last 10 contests.

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 8.8 points per game, while also chipping in 3.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. He is hitting 37 percent from 3-point range and 82.0 percent from the foul line.

Talley leads all Big Ten reserves in scoring and has been in double figures 10 times in his first year at Nebraska. He comes off one of his best games of the year, scoring 16 points, including 4-of-9 from 3-point range, and dishing out five assists in Saturday's loss to Minnesota. It was his highest scoring effort since Nov. 23.

 He was slowed by a thigh injury which sidelined him for five games before returning to action against Illinois on Jan. 7, but has played in NU's last 15 contests.  Talley has been in double figures five times since his return to the lineup, including his best effort of the year against No. 11 Indiana on Jan. 18. In that game, he had 10 points, including eight points in the final 5:19, as Nebraska came back from an 11-point deficit, while matching a career high with nine rebounds. Talley finished with 13 points at Northwestern on Feb. 2, hitting 5-of-7 shots from the floor and led the Huskers with 12 points at Penn State on Feb. 11.

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 before being sidelined with the injury.

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 Continues to Improve
While Nebraska relies on its guards for the bulk of the offensive output, junior Brandon Ubel looks to give the Huskers a physical presence on the inside. The 6-foot-10 forward has started NU's last 20 games at center since Jorge Brian Diaz suffered a foot injury in early December.

On the season, he is averaging 6.7 points and a team-high 5.4 rebounds per game, ranking 12th 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 2.5 rebounds per game, and has 11 games this season with at least seven rebounds, including nine rebounds in the loss to No. 22 Michigan on Feb. 8.

Despite playing out of position, Ubel has made the adjustment to the Big Ten and his scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage numbers are significantly higher during the second half of conference play.   Over the last five contests, Ubel is averaging 10.0 points per game, 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists a game while shooting 71 percent from the floor.

He enjoyed the best offensive performances of his career against Iowa on Feb. 29, scoring a career-high 17 points on 7-of-7 shooting and adding seven rebounds. It was his second straight game in double figures, as his offensive output was one of the few highlights in the loss at Michigan State on Feb. 25, as he led NU with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor. Ubel had six points and six rebounds in Saturday's loss at Minnesota.

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. 

An overlooked part of Ubel's game is his passing abilities, as he has 35 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.

Taking Care of the Basketball
Nebraska has done a better job of handling the basketball in recent games, committing an average of 11.2 turnovers per game over the last six contests. That is down from 16.0 turnovers per game in Nebraska's previous five contests. Brandon Richardson is averaging 5.2 assists per game and has a 2.2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in that span.

Stretch

Turnovers/GM

Asst.-to-TO ratio

Last 6 games

11.2

1.23-to-1

Previous 5 games

16.0

0.74-to-1

Huskers Battling Health issues

The Huskers have battled health issues during Big Ten play, as Nebraska has been without three-year starting center Jorge Brian Diaz for 11 of the Huskers' 18 Big Ten games because of foot injuries, while backup center Andre Almeida has not played at all this season because of a knee injury suffered last March. In 2010-11, the duo combined for 15.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game, and Diaz was on pace for career highs in all three categories before he was originally sidelined in early December. In addition, Dylan Talley missed the Huskers' first three games of Big Ten play with a thigh injury. Both Talley and Diaz were back for a seven-game stretch when the Huskers went 3-4 with two of the losses being decided on the road (at Illinois and at Wisconsin) in the final 30 seconds. Diaz re-aggravated the injury prior to the Minnesota game on Feb. 5 and missed the final eight games of the regular season.

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. In league play, NU averaged 62 points per game and shot 44 percent with Diaz in the lineup, while averaging 54.0 points on 40 percent in the 11 contests Diaz missed with injuries, going 1-10 in that span.

Games

PPG

FG Pct.

Opp FG

RPG

Reb, Diff.

Big Ten Play with Diaz

62.4

.440

.435

30.7

-0.7

Big Ten Play Without Diaz

54.0

.395

.506

25.5

-6.3

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 has missed the last month with an injury.

The 6-foot-11 center was Nebraska's fourth-leading scorer at 8.6 points per game while he also averaged 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 he was sidelined prior to the Minnesota game on Feb. 5.

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 five times in the last seven contests and is averaging 16.8 minutes per game since Feb. 5. In the first matchup with Purdue, Fox had a career high six points and three rebounds in 19 minutes. He had five points and two assists against Illinois on Feb. 18, and had four points and a career-high five rebounds in 28 minutes at Michigan State on Feb. 25.

In addition, Christopher Niemann has seen additional action, as he has averaged almost 5.5 minutes per game in the last eight games after playing a total of six minutes in the previous seven contests.

Comeback Kids
Nebraska has showed the knack for a comeback in 2011-12, rallying from three double-digit deficits for wins.

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 closing the game with an 18-6 spurt to pull out the 70-69 win.  At Iowa on Jan. 26, Nebraska trailed by 11 in the first half, only to rally for a 79-73 victory.

  • 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.

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.

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.

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.

Huskers at 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 80-28 record (.740 winning percentage), but went just 9-8 at home in 2011-12.  Nebraska has never had a losing season in 36 years at the Devaney Center, while the eight home losses are the most since the Devaney Center opened during the 1976-77 season. 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 three times in his tenure at Nebraska while 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.

Huskers Look to Continue Defensive Excellence
One hallmark of Nebraska basketball under Doc Sadler has been a stout defense, and the injuries on the interior have taken their toll in 2011-12. Nebraska comes into the Big Ten Tournament allowing 65.2 points per game to rank seventh in the Big Ten. It will mark the first time in Sadler's eight seasons as a Division I coach where his team did not rank in the top four of its conference in scoring defense.

Last year, Nebraska was one of the nation's best defensive clubs, allowing an average of 60.5 points per game to lead the Big 12 for the third time in the last four seasons and rank 18th nationally. It is the fourth time that a Sadler-coached team led a league in scoring defense. The Huskers were also seventh nationally in field goal percentage in 2010-11, as the .389 field goal percentage defense was the lowest by a Husker team since the 1960-61 campaign.  NU held 17 of its 32 opponents below 60 points while only four teams eclipsed its season-scoring average against Nebraska.

60 Is the Magic Number for Defense
Nebraska's success has been predicated on clamping down on the opposition. Last year, the Huskers held 17 of 32 opponents under 60 points, compiling a 15-2 mark in those games. Counting nine games this season, Nebraska has held 79 opponents to 60 points or less in Doc Sadler's tenure at Nebraska, compiling a 68-11 record in those games. Conversely, Nebraska is winless under Sadler when the Huskers allow at least 80 points (0-17).

Up Next
Should Nebraska defeat Purdue on Thursday, the Huskers will face third-seeded Ohio State Friday night at approximately 8 p.m. on BTN. The Buckeyes, who shared the Big Ten regular-season title with Michigan and Michigan State, won both meetings against the Huskers this season, a 70-41 victory in Columbus on Jan. 3 and a 79-45 win at the Devaney Center on Jan. 21. A third matchup with the Buckeyes would give NU a chance to improve its 1-6 record against ranked opponents this season.

Back

Advertisement
Nebraska JV Club Add 2013-14
Husker Sports Marketing
First National Bank
Previous Next