Huskers Return Home to Face NIU on Saturday
Game #7 vs. Northern Illinois
Game Date Sat., Nov. 30, 2013
Tipoff Time: 12:05 p.m. (CT)
Venue Pinnacle Bank Arena
2013-14 Record: 4-2, 0-0 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 19-20 (2nd year)
Career Record: 302-240 (19th year)
NORTHERN ILLINOIS HUSKIES
2013-14 Record: 2-3, 0-0 MAC
Head Coach: Mark Montgomery
Record at NIU: 12-54 (3rd year)
Career Record: Same
HUSKERS ON TV/RADIO/INTERNET
Online: Big Ten Digital Network (subscription required)
Video.btn.com (Featuring IMG HSRN Audio)
Radio: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network, including KLIN (1400 AM/94.5 FM) in Lincoln, KFAB (1110 AM) in Omaha and KRVN (880 AM) in Lexington.
Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka
Expert Analysis: Matt Davison
Internet Radio/Stats: Free on Huskers.com
Satellite Radio: Sirius Ch. 135, XM Ch. 196
HUSKERS RETURN HOME TO FACE NORTHERN ILLINOIS
The Nebraska basketball team returns to Pinnacle Bank Arena following a nearly two-week absence, as the Huskers take on Northern Illinois on Saturday, Nov. 30.
Tipoff is set for 12:05 p.m. and the matchup with the Huskies will be carried across the state on the 27-station Husker Sports Network with Kent Pavelka and Matt Davison calling all of the action. The game can be heard for free on Huskers.com and is available on the Huskers’ app on iOS or android devices.
Live video of Saturday’s game will also be available online on the Big Ten Digital Network (subscription required). For Saturday’s game, the broadcast will use the Husker Sports Network audio simulcast. To access, visit video.btn.com.
A limited number of tickets are available in the 200 and 300 Level sections with prices ranging from $7-$15. Visit Huskers.com or call 800-8-BIGRED for more information.
Saturday’s game with Northern Illinois is part of a doubleheader at Pinnacle Bank Arena, as the Husker women will take on Washington State at 5 p.m.
Nebraska (4-2) has had nearly a week off following a 73-65 win over Georgia in the final game of the Charleston Classic. The Huskers played some of their best basketball down the stretch, outscoring Georgia, 25-14 over the final 10 minutes, earning its first win over an SEC team since the 2004-05 season. Nebraska showed significant defensive improvement, holding Georgia to 43 percent shooting, including just 6-of-16 from the field in the final 10 minutes on Sunday.
The Huskers come into Saturday’s game averaging 76.8 points per game through the first six contests and feature seven players averaging at least eight points per game. Nebraska is eighth in the Big Ten in scoring offense and third in 3-point percentage (.374) entering Wednesday’s action.
Sophomore guard/forward Terran Petteway leads four Huskers in double figures at 16.7 points per game after he averaged just 3.1 points per game in 28 games at Texas Tech. He averaged 22.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game at the Charleston Classic last week. Sophomore forward Shavon Shields is averaging 13.3 ppg, while ranking first or second on the team in scoring (2nd), rebounding (5.3 rpg, 2nd), assists (1.7, 1st) and blocked shots (0.7, 2nd).
Northern Illinois comes to Lincoln with a 2-3 record following a 111-61 victory over St. Joseph’s (Ind.) last Sunday. Darrell Bowie had 23 points and 12 rebounds to lead four Huskies in double figures.
TOYS FOR TOTS DAY IS SATURDAY
Husker fans are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys to the game, and cash donations for the cause will also be accepted. The Marines will be stationed near entrances throughout Pinnacle Bank Arena to accept donations that will brighten the holiday season for needy children.
Collections will also be taken at Friday’s football game versus Iowa, and Saturday’s women’s basketball (vs. Washington State) and volleyball (vs. Penn State) games.
BY THE NUMBERS
1- Three-pointers that Ray Gallegos needs to tie for 10th on Nebraska’s career 3-point chart. Gallegos enters Saturday’s game with 116 3-pointers in his career.
2nd - Terran Petteway ranks second among Big Ten newcomers in scoring at 16.7 ppg. He has been in double figures five times in NU’s six contests this season.
16-to-1 - Benny Parker’s assist-to-turnover ratio over Nebraska’s last 12 contests dating back to Feb. 26, 2013, a span of 182 minutes. Parker earned his first start of the season in Sunday’s win.
38 - Consecutive games that Nebraska had started at least one freshman until Sunday’s game against Georgia. In that contest, NU started one junior and four sophomores.
58.1 - Leslee Smith’s field goal percentage, which ranks sixth in the Big Ten. Smith has shot 50 percent or better in five straight games.
SCOUTING NORTHERN ILLINOIS
Northern Illinois hits the road for the first time in 2013-14, as the Huskies visit Lincoln on Saturday. NIU is 2-3 on the season following a 111-61 victory over St. Joseph’s Sunday afternoon. In that game, Daniel Bowie’s 23 points and 12 rebounds led four Huskies in double figures, while NIU out-rebounded St. Joseph’s 67-22.
Head Coach Mike Montgomery is in his third season at Northern Illinois after spending the previous 10 seasons on Tom Izzo’s staff at Michigan State, including the last four as associate head coach. He returns four starters from a team that won only five games last year. The roster also features six newcomers who have all played significant roles early on. The NIU roster is mostly homegrown, as 10 of the 17 players are from the state of Illinois.
NIU features a balanced roster with five players averaging between 7.8 and 12.2 points per game. Sophomore Darrell Bowie leads NIU in both scoring (12.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.0 rpg). The Huskies rely on their bench, as Daveon Balls (8.2 ppg) and Jordan Threloff (8.0) are two of NIU’s top four scorers.
SERIES HISTORY VS. NORTHERN ILLINOIS
Nebraska holds a 2-1 lead in the all-time series with Northern Illinois, although the teams have not met in more than two decades. NU has won the two previous games in Lincoln, winning during the 1988-89 and 1990-91 seasons, while the Huskies won in DeKalb during the 1989-90 campaign. This is the third straight season that Nebraska has played a MAC team, as the Huskers faced Central Michigan (2011 and 2012) and Kent State (2012). The Huskers are 18-6 all-time against schools from the Mid-American Conference.
LAST TIME OUT
Freshman Tai Webster had 13 of his 14 points in the second half, as Nebraska learned the lessons from its two losses to earn a 73-65 win over Georgia at the Charleston Classic Sunday afternoon.
The Huskers, who allowed 110 second-half points in its two losses in Charleston, held Georgia to 43.3 shooting in the second half and took control down the stretch on the defensive end.
Nebraska trailed 52-50 before going on a 9-2 spurt to take a 59-54 lead on a Shavon Shields reverse layup. Walter Pitchford tied the game at 52 with a long jumper before Webster connected on a 3-pointer from the wing to give NU a three-point lead. Georgia cut the lead to 55-54 on a basket from Marcus Thornton, but Webster hit a pair of free throws before Shields, who missed his first five shots of the day, went baseline and flipped one off the glass to give the Huskers a five-point lead and force a Georgia timeout.
Georgia got to within 63-59 after a 3-pointer from Nemanja Djurisic, but a Webster basket and a Leslee Smith tip-in started a 10-2 run that put the game away, as the Huskers built their biggest lead of the day at 73-61 with 32 seconds left.
Webster set season bests in both points (14) and assists (three) while going 7-of-9 from the foul line on the afternoon to pace four Huskers in double figures. Terran Petteway continued his strong tournament effort with 15 points and seven rebounds while Walter Pitchford and Ray Gallegos added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Nebraska also got another big effort off the bench from Smith, who had eight points and a season-high 11 rebounds, as Nebraska out-rebounded the Bulldogs, 36-35.
QUICK LOOK AT NEBRASKA
As second-year coach Tim Miles continues his rebuilding process at Nebraska, Nebraska’s roster is starting to take shape. Only two of the 12 players on scholarship have been at NU longer than two seasons (Ray Gallegos and David Rivers), while Gallegos is the only scholarship senior on the 2013-14 roster.
Miles, who was given a seven-year contract when he was hired in 2012, led the Huskers to a 15-18 record last year, as 14 of NU’s 18 losses came against NCAA Tournament teams despite having only eight recruited scholarship players available. Nebraska played one of the nation’s toughest schedules in 2012-13, facing 10 ranked teams while the strength of schedule was 13th nationally. The Huskers finished 10th in the Big Ten in 2012-13 after being picked to finish last by 23 of the 24 beat writers in the league.
This season, Nebraska is again picked 12th in the preseason poll of writers with a roster which is 271st (of 351 teams) in experience according to KenPom. Five of NU’s nine primary rotation players are in their first year of competition at Nebraska, although three of the newcomers (Pitchford-Florida; Smith-SMU; Petteway-Texas Tech) have previous Division I experience. Through the first six games, 80 percent of starts have been made by freshmen or sophomores.
FINDING OFFENSIVE PACE
Despite having five new faces in Nebraska’s primary nine-man rotation, the Huskers have been a much more prolific offensive team in the early stages of 2013-14. The Huskers are averaging 11 points more per game than at this point last year, including a season-high 90 points against UMass on Nov. 21 - NU’s highest single-game total since the 2009-10 season.
•-Nebraska’s team scoring average of 76.8 points per game is the most after six games since the 1996-97 season, when the Huskers averaged 79.8 points per game in its first six contests.
•-Nebraska has scored 80 or more points in consecutive games against South Carolina State and UMass, the first time that has happened since January of 2009 (vs. Maryland Eastern Shore and Florida A&M).
•-Nebraska has already put five players in double figures twice in the first six games and four players in two other games.
•-Nebraska has already scored 75 or more points three times after just reaching that plateau twice in 33 games last season.
POINTS FROM THE BENCH
As the Huskers have looked at different combinations, one consistent has been its bench play. Nebraska is averaging 28.3 points per game from its bench, a number which has been greatly helped by the return of Ray Gallegos and the addition of Deverell Biggs. Both players missed the first two games, but have been productive in reserve roles. Gallegos has come off the bench in three of the last four games, is averaging 10.0 points per game, including 55 percent from 3-point range, while Biggs is averaging 10.5 points per game and has been a good change of pace guard for the Huskers.
In addition, the contributions of junior college transfer Leslee Smith can’t be overlooked, as the 6-foot-8 forward leads the Huskers in rebounding at 6.3 per game while chipping in eight points a game on 58 percent shooting.
•-Against Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 8, sophomore Benny Parker had a career-high nine points and two steals in 27 minutes. He single-handedly sparked the Huskers in a 10-0 second half run with seven points and both steals.
•-In NU’s win over Western Illinois on Nov. 12, Smith had 10 points, five rebounds and a pair of steals in 20 minutes. Smith scored six of his points in a 23-7 first-half run, turning a one-point lead into a 17-point advantage.
•-Against South Carolina State, Nebraska’s bench combined for 51 of the 83 points, making the fifth time in the last decade NU has received at least 50 points from its bench.
•-In the loss against UMass, forwards Leslee Smith and David Rivers stepped up, as the duo combined for 22 points and 13 rebounds in a losing effort. Smith recorded his first double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds and three blocked shots, while Rivers added 10 points, three rebounds and a career-best four steals.
•-Against UAB, Biggs led the bench with 11 points in 17 minutes, while Gallegos, who was not expected to play after suffering a knee injury on Thursday, added nine points, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range.
•-In the win over Georgia, freshman Tai Webster added 14 points, including 13 in the second half, and three assists while Gallegos added 11 points, including three 3-pointers. Smith led NU with 11 boards and chipped in eight points, as the Husker bench combined for 38 points against the Bulldogs.
THE SON ALSO RISES
Nebraska sophomore Shavon Shields in on his way to creating an impressive resume in his own right. While his father, Will, is one of the greatest linemen in college and NFL history, the younger Shields is carving out his own impressive career on the court.
As a freshman, Shavon overcame an early season elbow injury and averaged 8.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in 29 games. Shields was one of the few freshmen whose numbers improved during Big Ten play in 2012-13, as he upped his scoring and rebounding averages to 9.2 and 6.0 to rank among the Big Ten freshmen leaders. During the Huskers’ Big Ten Tournament run, the 6-foot-7, 219-pounder became one of the Huskers’ go-to players, averaging 16.5 points on 61 percent shooting in games against Purdue and Ohio State.
One of three captains this season, Shields picked up right where he left off and comes into this week averaging 13.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He is 19th in the Big Ten in scoring and is first or second on the Huskers in scoring, rebounding and assists. He saw his streak of seven straight games in double figures snapped against Georgia Sunday, but had six rebounds, two assists and a career-high three blocked shots in the 73-65 win.
Shields enjoyed his best game of the year against Sweet 16 qualifier Florida Gulf Coast, scoring a game-high 28 points - one off his career high - on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and a perfect 12-of-12 from the line. The 6-foot-7 forward also led NU in rebounds (six) and assists (three) en route to earning Big Ten Player of the Week and the Lute Olson Award National Player of the Week. Shields’ 28-point night marked the most points by a Husker in a season opener since 2006. He followed up with a 13-point effort in Nebraska’s win over Western Illinois on Nov. 12, and 10 points and six rebounds in Sunday’s win over South Carolina State.
HOW SHAVON SPENT HIS SUMMER
Shavon Shields spent part of the summer with the Denmark U-20 National Team, leading the country to the 2013 Nordic Cup Championship. He averaged 13.3 points per game in wins over Sweden, Finland and Estonia, capping the tournament with a 17-point, 12-rebound effort in a 101-94 double overtime win over Estonia. Shields had nine points in the opener against Sweden and 14 points in the victory over host Finland.
TRANSFERS MAKE IMMEDIATE IMPACT FOR BIG RED
While the Huskers were short-handed last year with just eight recruited scholarship players available for action, Nebraska knew that help was on the way in the form of transfers Walter Pitchford, Terran Petteway and Deverell Biggs. The trio led a scout team which regularly pushed the Husker starters in practice and set the stage for the 2013-14 season.
Pitchford, who played 13 games at Florida in helping the Gators to the Elite Eight in 2011-12, gives the Huskers an athletic big man with extended shooting range. The 6-foot-10 center is averaging 8.8 points per game on 54 percent shooting, including 10-of-19 shooting from 3-point range. Pitchford, who also is averaging 3.7 rebounds per game, is 12th in the Big Ten in field goal percentage and fourth in 3-point percentage. He led NU with 14 points in the win over Western Illinois on Nov. 12, including eight straight points in a first-half run, and has been in double figures in each of the last two games. He had 10 points and six rebounds against UAB and 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the win over Georgia.
Petteway, who began his career at Texas Tech, has been one of the Huskers’ most valuable performers. He is 11th in the Big Ten in scoring at 16.7 ppg and is third on the squad with 5.2 rebounds per game. He led NU at the Charleston Classic, averaging 22 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Against UMass on Nov. 21, Petteway topped the Huskers with 30 points, as he became the 25th player in school history to have a 30-point game. His performance is the second-highest total by a Big Ten player this season. Petteway had 17 points in the opener against Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 8, and nearly had a double-double in NU’s win over Western Illinois on Nov. 12, with 13 points and nine rebounds.
Biggs made his Husker debut in the win over South Carolina State, scoring 17 points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing out a pair of assists in 23 minutes off the bench. He has come off the bench, averaging 10.5 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game. He had 11 points in Nebraska’s loss to UAB on Nov. 22. Biggs earned first-team NJCAA All-America honors at Seward Community College in 2011-12.
PETTEWAY PUTS UP 30 VS. UMASS
Nebraska sophomore Terran Petteway enjoyed the finest offensive performance of his career in the Huskers’ loss against UMass on Nov. 21. Petteway hit 8-of-20 shots from the floor, including a trio of 3-pointers, and converted 11 of 12 shots from the foul line, scoring 30 points in 29 minutes of work.
Petteway became the 25th player in school history to have a 30-point game at Nebraska. Of the 25 players, only 12 have multiple 30-point games in their Husker career. He joins Ray Gallegos, who had a 30-point effort last season at Minnesota, as Huskers with career 30-point games.
VALUE THE BASKETBALL
Under Tim Miles, one major emphasis is taking care of the basketball, and the Huskers were among the nation’s best in that category in 2012-13. Despite losing its top three point guards from 2011-12 and having a backup point guard (Mike Peltz) suffer a season-ending injury in January, Nebraska finished fourth in the Big Ten and 10th nationally with 10.7 turnovers per game - nearly three fewer than 2011-12. NU’s turnovers per game were the fewest in school history, bettering the 11.30 per game in 1984-85.
Nebraska committed 10 turnovers or less 15 times in 2012-13. Nebraska set a school record with two turnovers against Purdue on Jan. 16, breaking the mark of three set on three previous occasions. In all, five of the top 11 teams in the country resided in the Big Ten, including Michigan and Wisconsin which ranked first and fourth, respectively in that category.
This season, the Huskers have been among the national leaders in that category, ranking second with 8.2 turnovers per game. The Huskers have only reached double figures in turnovers once in six games. Nebraska also ranks second in the Big Ten in turnover margin at +5.5 per contest.
WEBSTER MAKES A POINT, PLAYS THE POINT
Tai Webster has found a home in the Huskers’ backcourt, averaging 9.8 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game Saturday’s game with Northern Illinois. The 6-foot-4 freshman comes off his best game of the season, scoring 14 points and dishing out three assists in NU’s 73-65 win over Georgia on Nov. 24. Webster scored 13 of his points in the second half and went 7-of-9 from the foul line. It was his second double-figure effort of the Charleston Classic, as he totaled 12 points and two assists in NU’s loss to UMass.
With his start against Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 8, Webster became just the ninth true freshman to start a season opener in the last 18 years. Webster totaled nine points, two rebounds and an assist in helping the Huskers to a 79-55 win. He reached double figures for the first time in his young career against South Carolina State on Nov. 17, totaling 13 points, four rebounds and two assists.
Although he is a freshman, Webster was considered one of the top international guards in this year’s senior class. He played for New Zealand’s national team in qualifying for the 2012 Olympics, averaging 13.5 points per game in 52.5 percent shooting in three games. He also played in New Zealand’s National Basketball League, averaging 18.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game last spring despite being the youngest player in the league. Webster is among the five Big Ten freshmen to watch by ESPN’s Paul Biancardi, joining Indiana’s Noah Vonleh, Illinois’ Kendrick Nunn, Michigan’s Zak Irvin and Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes.
DOUBLE-FIGURE RETURNEEES RARE RECENTLY
Nebraska regained the services of its top scorer earlier this month, as senior Ray Gallegos returned from a two-game suspension against South Carolina State. Gallegos, who averaged 12.5 points per game in 2012-13, returned with a flourish, scoring 18 points in NU’s 83-57 victory. He suffered a knee strain against UMass, but bounced back in the final two games in Charleston, hitting 6-of-10 from 3-point range.
Gallegos’ per-game average is the most for a Husker returner since Aleks Maric in 2007-08. In fact, Nebraska has returned only four double-figure scorers since the 2006-07 season.
GALLEGOS WAS HUSKER IRONMAN
If it seems like Ray Gallegos was on the court nearly every minute last season, it probably is true, as he was one of the nation’s leaders in minutes played in 2012-13.
•-According to kenpom.com, Gallegos ranked third nationally in percentage of minutes played, as he was on the court for 93.7 percent of the Huskers’ minutes in 2012-13. He trailed only Travis Bader of Oakland (94.8) and Kyle Vinales of Central Connecticut State (94.0) among all Division I players.
•-In the last five years (2009-2013), 16 Big Ten players, including Gallegos, have played at least 90 percent of their team’s minutes in a season, and Gallegos’ season total was second to Penn State’s Talor Battle in that stretch.
•-Gallegos played all 40 minutes 10 times in 18 Big Ten games and 12 times during the 2012-13 season. Gallegos set Nebraska’s single-season record for minutes with 1,237, breaking the mark of 1,155 by Dave Hoppen in 1984-85.
•-In Big Ten play, he averaged 38.6 minutes per game, sitting just 26 minutes in league play.
•-Gallegos was on the court consecutively for a stretch of 218:39 minutes dating from Dec. 29 to Jan. 19, playing all 40 minutes of Nebraska’s first five Big Ten games.
•-His season low in minutes - which was set in the season opener against Southern - were the most minutes played of his career, as he never played more than 27 minutes in any game during his first two seasons (2009-10, 2010-11).
GALLEGOS DIALS IN FROM LONG DISTANCE
Senior guard Ray Gallegos gives the Huskers a long-range shooter who can get on a roll from long distance. As a junior, he connected on 83 3-pointers, a total which ranked second on Nebraska’s single-season list. It is more impressive when you consider that Gallegos made only 21 3-pointers during his first two seasons at Nebraska before redshirting in 2011-12.
•-He opened 2013-14 by hitting six of 10 3-pointers in a win over South Carolina State on Nov. 17, the fifth time he has hit on at least six 3-pointers in a game.
•-Gallegos now has 116 3-pointers in his career, one shy of 10th place on NU’s career 3-point list.
•-He led the Big Ten in 3-pointers per game (2.5 per game) during the 2012-13 season. He became the first Husker basketball player to lead the Big Ten in any statistical category.
•-Gallegos connected on a career-high seven 3-pointers at Iowa on March 9, 2013, a total which is one shy of Nebraska’s single-game record.