Huskers Look for 4-0 B1G Start
GAME 16: VS. NORTHWESTERN
Radio: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network, including KLIN (1400 AM) in Lincoln, KXSP (590 AM) in Omaha and KRVN (880 AM) in Lexington.
Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka
Huskers Look for 4-0 B1G Start
Nebraska looks to improve to 4-0 in Big Ten play on Sunday afternoon, as the Huskers host Northwestern at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
A limited number of tickets for Sunday's game are available by visiting Huskers.com/Tickets or by calling NU Athletics Development and Ticketing at 800-8-BIGRED during business hours or at the Pinnacle Bank Arena Ticket Office beginning at 11:45 a.m. on Sunday.
Tipoff is set for 1:15 p.m. and the game between the Huskers and Wildcats will be carried nationally on BTN with Kevin Kugler and Jon Crispin on the call. The game will also be available online on BTN2Go and BTN.com.
Fans can listen to Sunday's game and all of the action throughout the 2016-17 season on the Husker Sports Network with Kent Pavelka and Matt Davison on the call, including on Huskers.com and the Huskers app. The broadcast starts 60 minutes before tipoff and a complete list of HSN affiliates is on page 5 of the release.
The Huskers (9-6, 3-0 Big Ten) are coming off an exhilarating 93-90 double overtime win over Iowa on Thursday night. The Huskers, who have won four straight, trailed in the final two minutes of regulation, overtime and double overtime before gutting out a three-point win. Nebraska held Iowa to 40 percent shooting in the two overtimes and got clutch plays from Tai Webster, Glynn Watson Jr. and Jeriah Horne to snap a five-game losing streak to the Hawkeyes.
Watson was spectacular with a career-high 34 points, including 7-of-8 from 3-point range, and four assists, while Webster matched his career high with 23 points and added seven rebounds, six assists and four steals. Webster also did his work on the defensive end, limiting Peter Jok to just five points in the two OT periods before the Iowa guard fouled out. Horne came off the bench and added 12 points and three rebounds, including a pair of free throws to give NU a three-point lead in the final 20 seconds of double OT.
Entering this weekend’s games, the Huskers are tied with Michigan State and Wisconsin for the Big Ten lead with a 3-0 mark, including a pair of road wins.
Northwestern (12-4, 1-2 Big Ten) comes to Lincoln looking to snap a two-game losing streak, as the Wildcats are coming off a 70-66 loss to Minnesota Thursday night. In that game, Bryant McIntosh had 21 points and five rebounds to lead all scorers, but Northwestern shot just 38 percent, including 6-of-26 from 3-point range.
82.3- Points per game NU has averaged during Big Ten play, a total which leads the conference. Sophomore Glynn Watson Jr. leads the Big Ten in scoring (25.7 ppg) and steals (3.7 spg) in conference action.
.833 - The Huskers are 5-1 in games decided by five points or less this season following Thursday's win over Iowa. The only loss came at Clemson when the Huskers had two shots to win or tie in the final minute.
6 - Consecutive multiple OT games NU has won dating back to the 1999-2000 season following Thursday's win over Iowa.
7 - Nebraska is 7-1 when hitting at least six 3-pointers and 1-5 when being held to five 3-pointers or less. The only loss came to now-No. 4 UCLA.
10.3 - Rebounds per game in Big Ten play for Michael Jacobson. He has had 9 or more caroms in each of NU's conference games and is third in Big Ten games only.
12.7 - Nebraska's steals per game in Big Ten play which leads the conference. NU is the only Big Ten team averaging 10+ steals per game in Big Ten play.
16 - Consecutive games in double figures for Tai Webster, dating back to last year's Big Ten Tournament. Prior to this season, his longest streak was four games.
Northwestern comes to Lincoln with a 12-4 record, but has lost two straight following losses at Michigan State and at Minnesota. Under fourth-year coach Chris Collins, the Wildcats have been one of the surprises of the season in the conference. Northwestern went 11-2 in non-conference play, including wins over Dayton, Wake Forest and Texas with the losses coming in the final seconds at both Butler and against Notre Dame. The Wildcats, who play four of their first five Big Ten games on the road, are hovering just outside the top-50 in the RPI. Northwestern is a balanced club with three players in double figures and three others averaging at least seven points per game. The Wildcats have also held teams to 39 percent shooting, including 31 percent from 3-point range.
The Wildcats are led by junior guard Bryant McIntosh, who averages 12.3 points and 5.6 assists per game, ranking third in the conference in assists. McIntosh, a three-year starter, set Northwestern’s single-season record with 213 last season in helping the Wildcats win a school-record 20 regular-season games in 2015-16. He is one of three returning starters for Northwestern, who also regained the services of Vic Law, who missed all of the 2015-16 season. Law is averaging 13.8 points and 6.0 rebounds, while Scottie Lindsey is averaging a team-best 15.4 points per game.
Nebraska and Northwestern meet for the 12th time ever on Sunday afternoon, as the Huskers hold a 7-4 lead in a series that dates back to 1933. Nebraska had won four straight before the Wildcats posted a sweep last season. This is the first of two meetings, as the teams will square off in Evanston on Jan. 26. The Huskers have won four of five meetings in Lincoln.
LAST MEETING VS. NORTHWESTERN
Nebraska’s comeback fell short, as the Huskers fell at Northwestern, 65-54, in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Nebraska trimmed a 20-point deficit to 55-49 with 4:03 remaining after a pair of Shavon Shields free throws, but could not get closer, as the Wildcats held on down the stretch.
Northwestern was led by seniors Alex Olah and Tre Demps, who combined for 36 points. Demps finished with 17 points, including seven in a 13-0 first-half run to give the Wildcats a lead they would not relinquish, while Olah had 19 points and eight rebounds, hitting 7-of-10 shots from the field. Olah provided the biggest bucket for the hosts, as his 17-foot jumper ended a 9-2 Husker spurt after NU cut the deficit to its smallest margin since midway through the first half.
Tai Webster and Andrew White III led NU with 13 points apiece, while Shavon Shields added 11 in a losing effort, as Nebraska shot just 35 percent and was out-rebounded 40-26.
LAST TIME OUT
Nebraska improved to 3-0 in conference play for the first time in 41 seasons, but it was far from easy as Nebraska overcame deficits late in regulation and in both overtime periods before pulling out a 93-90 double overtime win over Iowa at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Thursday.
The Huskers (9-6, 3-0 B1G) were down 83-79 with Iowa in possession with under a minute left in overtime but rallied behind the play of Tai Webster. The senior forced Iowa’s Peter Jok to miss and was fouled with 40 seconds left. Webster hit both free throws to pull NU within two. On Iowa’s next possession, Webster stripped Jok and was fouled with 12 seconds left before calmly sinking both shots to tie it at 83. Iowa still had a chance to win in overtime, but Jordan Bohannon’s jumper was off the mark.
The Huskers, who had their own chance to win with 1.3 seconds left in regulation but came up empty on two free throw attempts, took the lead for good at 91-90 on a Webster free throw before Jeriah Horne’s two foul shots with 17 seconds left gave the Huskers a three-point lead. On Iowa's next possession, NU forced an off-balanced shot and grabbed the rebound, but Evan Taylor was unable to stretch the lead to a two-possession game with less than 8.1 seconds left, giving Iowa a chance to send it into a third OT. NU's defense held as Brady Ellington’s 3-pointer was off the mark at the buzzer.
The Husker backcourt was outstanding, as Webster and Glynn Watson combined for 57 points, 11 assists, nine rebounds and seven steals. Watson tied Jok for game-high honors with a career-high 34 points, including 7-of-8 from 3-point range, while Webster also matched his career high with 23 points while adding seven assists, six rebounds and four steals. Horne added 12 points, while Michael Jacobson added seven points, a career-high 13 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Jok kept Iowa in the game, scoring 30 of his 34 points after halftime to pace four Hawkeyes in double figures.
- Nebraska’s 3-0 Big Ten start marks the first time since the 1975-76 season that the Huskers have won three straight to open conference play. It also marks just the seventh time since the end of World War II that NU has gotten off to a 3-0 start or better in the league. In all three games, the Huskers have trailed in the final five minutes before coming back, including a 13-point deficit at Maryland and a seven-point deficit at Indiana.
- Nebraska’s Glynn Watson Jr. and Northwestern guard Jordan Ash were teammates at Westchester St. Joseph High School, winning the Illinois Class 3A title in 2015. Watson is one of three Illinois natives on the Husker roster.
- Nebraska Coach Jim Molinari is no stranger to the Chicago area, as he was a longtime assistant coach at DePaul before serving as head coach at Northern Illinois, Bradley and Western Illinois.
- Sunday's comeback win over Maryland marked the fifth time that Nebraska has overcome a double-digit deficit under Tim Miles, but the first one on the road. The 13-point deficit NU overcame was its largest away from home since overcoming a 13-point deficit at Texas Tech in a 61-59 win on Feb. 6, 2007. That is the only other time in the last 15 years NU has overcome a double-digit deficit on the road.
YOUTH IS SERVED
With seven freshmen and sophomores in the Huskers' nine-man rotation, it is not surprising that most of the scoring and minutes have come from the underclassmen. Through the first 15 games, 67 percent of NU's minutes and 66 percent of NU's points have come from the freshmen and sophomore classes.
TAI IS TAKING OVER
Last season, Tai Webster was one of the most improved players in the Big Ten, and the 6-foot-4 guard has taken another leap as a senior. Webster comes into the weekend averaging 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
- Webster comes off his first-ever Big Ten Player of the Week award on Jan. 2, as he averaged 19.5 points, 3.5 assists, 3.0 steals and 3.0 rebounds per game in helping NU to wins over No. 16 Indiana and Maryland. He keyed NU's comeback at Maryland with 18 points, including the Huskers' final seven points, in a 67-65 win.
- He is one of 15 players in Division I averaging 17.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. Among power conferences, he joins Markelle Fultz (Washington) and Frank Mason III (Kansas) as the only players currently at those plateaus.
- Webster is making a strong bid to join an elite club of Big Ten players. Since 1993-94, only nine Big Ten players have finished the season averaging 17.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game, a list which includes Jalen Rose Evan Turner, Denzel Valentine, D'Angelo Russell and Michael Finley among others.
- Webster's 17.7 points per game is on pace to be the highest by a Husker senior since Eric Piatkowski in 1994.
- He has been exceptional against NU's best foes, as he is averaging 20.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game in NU's four games against ranked opponents this season.
- He leads the Huskers with seven 20-point games, matching his career high with 23 points and adding seven assists, six rebounds and four steals vs. Iowa on Jan. 5
- He is the only Husker to score double figures in each of NU's 15 contests in 2016-17 and has been in double figures in 16 straight games dating back to last season.
- Webster ranks 42nd on NU's career scoring list with 854 points and needs just 146 points to become Nebraska's 28th 1,000-point scorer.
- Webster led NU with 22 points and five assists at No. 3 Kansas on Dec. 10. His other 20-point games this season have come against Sacramento State, Virginia Tech, Louisiana Tech, No. 10 Creighton and No. 16 Indiana. Prior to this year, he had just two 20-point efforts in his first Husker career.
- He turned in a strong performance at the Wooden Legacy, averaging 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists in three games. Webster had 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists vs. No. 14 UCLA and had 23 points and eight rebounds against Virginia Tech.
As a junior, Webster put together one of the largest one-season scoring jumps by a Husker in recent years during the 2015-16 season. He improved his scoring average from 3.9 ppg to 10.1 ppg from his sophomore to junior campaigns, marking the largest one-season jump by a Husker in nine seasons. Webster reached double figures 16 times in 2015-16 after accomplishing the feat just seven times in his first two seasons and closed the year by averaging 14.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game at the Big Ten Tournament.
MORROW ENJOYS BREAKOUT SEASON
Sophomore Ed Morrow Jr. has enjoyed a breakout season. One of the "Five Most Improved Players" in the Big Ten by BTN analyst Shon Morris, Morrow has raised his scoring average from 4.1 points to 10.3 points per game on 56 percent shooting, while ranking among the Big Ten leaders with 8.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. Morrow comes into the Iowa game ranked sixth in the Big Ten in rebounding, seventh in blocked shots and 10th in field goal percentage.
- Morrow's 8.3 rebounds per game is on pace to be the highest average by a Husker sophomore since Venson Hamilton averaged 8.4 caroms per outing in 1996-97. Only seven Husker sophomores since the 1953-54 season have averaged at least eight rebounds per game.
- Reached double figures seven times this year after reaching double figures just four times in 2015-16.
- Earned his third double-double of the season with 12 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots in the win over No. 16 Indiana on Dec. 28. In that game, Morrow had two big offensive putbacks in the final two minutes to preserve NU's lead.
- Grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds vs. Gardner-Webb on Dec. 18. It was the highest total by a Husker since the 2006-07 season. He also matched his then-career high with four blocked shots in the game.
- Turned in a strong effort at No. 3 Kansas, finishing with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting and seven rebounds.
- Snagged a then-career-high 13 rebounds against No. 10 Creighton on Dec. 7.
- Earned his second career double-double at Clemson on Nov. 30, grabbing a then-career-high 12 rebounds and adding 10 points and three blocked shots.
- Collected his first career double-double against Dayton, scoring 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds in the 80-78 win.
- Reached double figures in the loss to Virginia Tech, scoring 13 points and grabbing seven boards, as he averaged 13.3 points and 8.0 rebounds during the three games at the Wooden Legacy.
- Morrow's mother, Nafeesah Brown, was a standout basketball player for the Huskers in the mid-1990s, as she averaged 16.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game during her Husker career. As a senior, she averaged 20.2 points and 10.1 rebounds per game in earning first-team All-Big Eight honors.
WATSON IS POINT OF IT ALL
Glynn Watson Jr. has continued his emergence as one of the best young guards in the Big Ten. The 6-foot sophomore enters the Northwestern game averaging 15.2 points, 2.9 assists and a Big Ten-best 2.3 steals per game. Watson comes from a basketball family, as his older brother Demetri McCamey was a first-team All-Big Ten performer at Illinois, but has quickly made his own name at Nebraska.
- Watson is second on the team in scoring and assists and ranks among the conference leaders in scoring (eighth) and steals (first).
- In Big Ten action, Watson leads the Big Ten in scoring at 25.7 ppg, while also pacing the conference in 3-pointers per game(4.3) and steals per game (3.7).
- Reached double figures 10 times, including six 20-point efforts, highlighted by a 34-point effort against Iowa on Jan. 5. In that game, Watson went 11-of-18 from the field, including a blistering 7-of-8 shooting from 3-point range. His seven 3-pointers was one off NU's single-game record, while his .875 percentage was the fourth-highest total in school history.
- Keyed NU's win over No. 16 Indiana with 26 points, five steals and four assists, as he had 19 second-half points.
- Paced NU with 20 points, matched his career high with six rebounds and added four steals and four assists at Clemson.
- Played well at the Wooden Legacy, averaging 16.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 3.0 assists per game.
- Scored a then-career high 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting against No. 14 UCLA, scoring 21 of his 27 points in the second half as Nebraska rallied back and cut a 15-point deficit to two.
- Keyed NU's win over Dayton with 20 points, a career-high five steals and three assists while hitting a pair of game-winning free throws with 8.8 seconds left when the Huskers trailed 78-77.
- He opened the season with a then-career-high 23 points along with six assists and five rebounds in NU's win over Sacramento State on Nov. 13.
- Prior to Watson's effort in the opener, Shavon Shields was the last Husker with a 20-point, six-assist effort as he had 21 points and seven assists against Delaware State on Nov. 19, 2015. The last Husker guard to do that was Jamel White against Western Kentucky during the 2006-07 season.
As a freshman, Watson played in all 34 games and made 16 starts for the Huskers. He averaged 8.6 points per game and was in double figures 15 times.
- Watson was one of five Husker freshmen to finish his initial campaign on NU's top-10 list for both freshmen points and assists, joining Eric Piatkowski (1991), Tyronn Lue (1996), Cookie Belcher (1997) and Jake Muhleisen (2002).
- Finished fourth among Big Ten freshmen in both assists and steals per game in 2015-16.
- His 2.44-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in 2015-16 was the best by a Husker guard in nearly a decade and the fourth-best over the last 30 years.
THIEVERY IS ELEMENTARY FOR WATSON
Watson has been a defensive terror for the Huskers, pacing the Big Ten with 2.3 steals per game entering Sunday's game with Northwestern.
- He leads the Big Ten in steals at 2.3 per game and is the conference player averaging at least 2.0 steals per game.
- Has seven games with at least three steals, including three games where he had a career-high five steals (Dayton, Virginia Tech, Indiana).
- Watson is one of only 11 players in the country with three games of at least five steals in 2016-17.
- If Watson can keep up this pace, he can become only the sixth Husker to average at least two steals per game, joining Cookie Belcher, Erick Strickland, Eric Johnson, Venson Hamilton and Brian Carr.
TAKING ON A CHALLENGING SCHEDULE
Nebraska has faced a daunting 2016-17 non-conference schedule. The Huskers are 9-6 on the season and have played the second-toughest schedule in the country according to the NCAA's RPI as of Jan. 5.
- Nebraska's non-conference schedule ranks seventh nationally and is the only Big Ten team in the top-10.
- Nebraska has played seven games against top-50 RPI teams which is the most in the nation.
- The Huskers' Division I opponents are a combined 126-56, as the .692 winning percentage ranks second nationally.
- NU's remaining opponents have a .722 winning percentage.
- The Big Ten has 10 of its 14 teams in the top-100 of the RPI, including seven top-50 teams, through Jan. 5
- Five of NU's six losses have come against teams ranked or receiving votes in this week's polls.
- Last month, Nebraska completed a week where the Huskers played consecutive top-10 teams in non-conference play for the first time in program history (No. 10 Creighton, No. 3 Kansas).
- The 2016-17 season marked the third time Nebraska has faced multiple top-10 teams prior to the start of conference play. In both of the other two instances (1950-51 and 1954-55), NU played a conference opponent as part of the Big Seven Holiday Tournament in Kansas City.
- It is the second straight season NU faced multiple ranked teams during non-conference action. Prior to last season, it has not happened since the 2002-03 season.