Huskers Face Penn State in Big Ten Tourney
Game 31: vs. Penn State
PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS
Online: WatchESPN app, ESPN app and ESPN.com
Radio: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network, including KLIN (1400 AM) in Lincoln, KXSP (590 AM) in Omaha and KRVN (880 AM) in Lexington.
Also available online at Huskers.com, SiriusXM Radio, the Huskers App and on TuneIn Radio and the TuneIn Radio App.
The Nebraska men’s basketball team begins the postseason Wednesday afternoon, as the Huskers travel to Washington, D.C., for the Big Ten Tournament.
The Huskers, who come into the tournament as the No. 12 seed, will take on No. 13 seed Penn State at 3:30 p.m. (CT) Wednesday at the Verizon Center.
The matchup between the Huskers and Nittany Lions will be televised nationally on ESPN2 with Dave Flemming, Dan Dakich, and Molly McGrath on the call. The game is also available on tablets and mobile devices on the ESPN and WatchESPN apps and online at ESPN.com. Fans can listen to Wednesday's tournament opener on the Husker Sports Network with Kent Pavelka and Matt Davison on the call, including on Huskers.com, the Huskers app, on TuneIn Radio and SiriusXM Radio. The broadcast starts 60 minutes before tipoff and a complete list of HSN affiliates is on page 5 of the release.
All-session tickets for the Big Ten Tournament are available at the Verizon Center box office, online at Ticketmaster.com or charge by phone at 800-745-3000. Single-session tickets went on sale on Monday.
The Huskers (12-18, 6-12 Big Ten) look to snap a four-game losing streak following a loss to Michigan in the regular-season finale. The Wolverines shot 63 percent from the field, including 14-of-27 from 3-point range, and put five players in double figures. For the Huskers, freshman Isaiah Roby and Ed Morrow Jr. led NU with 10 points apiece. Michigan became the first team to hold Tai Webster out of double figures, as the All-Big Ten pick was held to eight points, snapping a streak of 30 straight games in double figures.
Penn State (14-17, 6-12 Big Ten) has dropped its last five games, including a 90-79 loss at Iowa on Sunday afternoon. The Nittany Lions were led by Josh Reaves, who had 25 points and five assists while Mike Watkins had 17 points and 12 boards.
Nebraska won the only regular-season meeting between the schools, posting an 82-66 victory in Lincoln on Feb. 14. The winner of Wednesday's game will take on fifth-seeded Michigan State Thursday afternoon at approximately 1:15 p.m. (CT).
1 - Two of the youngest rosters in the Big Ten will square off on Wednesday afternoon. Nebraska guard Tai Webster is the only senior on either roster.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
.425/.293 - Nebraska's 3-point percentages in its Big Ten wins (.425) and its Big Ten losses (.293). The Huskers are shooting just .266 from long distance during its current four-game losing streak.
.600 - Nebraska is 6-4 this season in games decided by four points or less. Three of NU's Big Ten losses (Ohio State, at Rutgers, Wisconsin) were by one point, and NU had the lead in the final 20 seconds in all three games.
7 - Freshman Isaiah Roby became the seventh different Husker to lead NU in scoring this year. Roby's effort marked the second time this year (Jeriah Horne vs. Southern) that a freshman topped NU in scoring.
17.2 - Tai Webster's scoring average is the highest by a Husker senior since Eric Piatkowski averaged 21.5 ppg in 1994.
393 - Glynn Watson Jr. needs seven points to become the ninth Husker sophomore to score 400 points in a season. He is also three 3-pointers from being the fourth Husker sophomore to hit 50 3-pointers in a season.
SCOUTING PENN STATE
Under sixth-year coach Patrick Chambers, Penn State comes to Washington, D.C., with a 14-17 record and tied with the Huskers for 12th in the Big Ten with a 6-12 record. The Nittany Lions have lost five straight games, but that includes an overtime loss to Purdue and a one-point loss to Ohio State. Penn State has several quality wins, including triumphs over Maryland, Michigan State and Minnesota.
Penn State features a balanced offense with four players averaging double figures. Freshman Tony Carr leads PSU in both scoring (13.2 ppg) and assists (4.2 apg) and was named to the All-Freshman team on Monday. Freshman forward Lamar Stevens is second on the team in scoring at 12.5 ppg while also grabbing 5.6 rebounds per game. Juniors Shep Garner (12.1 ppg) and Payton Banks (10.9 ppg) have been PSU's top 3-point shooters, as the pair has combined for 148 3-pointers on the year. Mike Watkins handles the interior, as he averages a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game and is second in the Big Ten in blocked shots at 2.6 per game.
Wednesday's game is the 15th meeting between the Huskers and Nittany Lions, and the teams have split the 14 meetings. Nebraska holds a 6-5 lead since the Huskers joined the Big Ten (NU is 5-4 in regular season; 0-1 in Big Ten Tournament) prior to the 2011-12 season.
The teams played three times before Nebraska joined the Big Ten, a home-and-home series in 1980 and 1981 and in the second round of the 1995 NIT.
LAST MEETING VS. PENN STATE
Feb. 14, 2017: Glynn Watson Jr. and Jack McVeigh had 15 points apiece to pace four Huskers in double figures, as Nebraska rolled to an 82-66 win over Penn State.
The Huskers shot 55 percent from the field and used a balanced attack in posting its largest Big Ten win of the season. NU led from wire to wire in snapping Penn State’s two-game win streak.
McVeigh’s half court heave capped a 45-point first half and gave the Huskers a spark heading into the break, while Watson’s 3-point play with 11:52 left keyed a 9-0 run that turned the Huskers’ nine-point lead into an 18-point cushion.
Penn State cut a 13-point deficit to 56-47 before Watson went coast to coast, drawing contact and hitting the 3-point play. NU kept the momentum going, as freshman Isaiah Roby had consecutive dunks before McVeigh’s two free throws stretched the lead to 18.
Tai Webster and Jordy Tshimanga added 12 each for the winners, as Tshimanga had 10 of his 12 points in the first half, while Webster added six assists, as Nebraska had 18 assists compared to just 12 turnovers.
LAST TIME OUT
Michigan used a blistering shooting night in spoiling Nebraska’s senior night with a 93-57 win over the Huskers Sunday evening at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The Wolverines put five players in double figures, led by Derrick Walton Jr., who finished with 18 points and a school-record 16 assists. Walton’s effort helped Michigan shot 63 percent from the floor, including 14-of-27 from 3-point range.
Nebraska, which shot 56 percent in the first half, shot just 29 percent in the second half and committed 16 turnovers, which led to 24 Michigan points.
Freshman Isaiah Roby tied for team-high honors with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, while Ed Morrow Jr. added 10 points and four rebounds. Tai Webster, who had reached double figures in 30 straight games, was held to a season-low eight points, but led NU with five assists.
NEBRASKA’S CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT HISTORY
While this marks Nebraska’s sixth Big Ten Tournament appearance, the Huskers are 19-39 all-time in conference tournaments dating back to the start of the Big Eight Conference tournament in 1977. NU’s only conference tournament title came in 1994, when the Huskers beat Oklahoma, No. 3 Missouri and No. 23 Oklahoma State en route to the Big Eight title.
- Nebraska is 3-5 all-time in the Big Ten Tournament and went 2-1 last season in Indianapolis with wins over Rutgers and Wisconsin before losing to Maryland in the quarterfinals.
- In 2013, Tim Miles became the first Husker coach to win a conference tournament game in his first season. Miles is 3-4 in four Big Ten Tournament appearances.
- Nebraska’s last semifinal appearance came in the 2006 Big 12 Tournament when the Huskers defeated Missouri and Oklahoma before falling to eventual tournament champion Kansas.
WEBSTER, TSHIMANGA HONORED BY BIG TEN
Senior Tai Webster was honored Monday, as he garnered All-Big Ten honors by the league coaches and media. The 6-foot-4 guard was a second-team pick by the media covering the league and a third-team selection by the Big Ten coaches.
He enters the Big Ten Tournament ranked third in the conference in scoring at 17.2 points per game while also chipping in 5.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.4 steals per game. He has set career highs in all four categories and is one of four players in school history to score 500 points and dish out 100 assists in a season. Webster leads the Huskers in double-figure games (29), including a team-high nine 20-point games.
In Big Ten play, he finished in the top-10 in four categories, including third in scoring at 17.3 points per game, third in steals (1.6 spg), third in minutes played (35.5 mpg) and eighth in assists (4.1 apg). He reached double figures in 17 straight games, including a career-high 28-point performance at Michigan on Jan. 14.
In addition, freshman Jordy Tshimanga was NU’s nominee for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. The student-athletes chosen are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior, and Tshimanga has been active in the Huskers' renowned Life Skills program.
- Nebraska has a trio of ties to the Washington, D.C., area, as Kenya Hunter coached at Georgetown from 2007 to 2013 while Evan Taylor (Paul VI Catholic HS) and James Palmer Jr. (St. John's College HS) both played high school basketball in the area. Taylor has started all 18 Big Ten games and is averaging 4.9 points and 2.9 rebounds per game, while Palmer is sitting out this season after transferring from Miami.
- All-time Nebraska has had about a dozen basketball letterwinners from the Washington, D.C. area. The most prominent is Derrick Chandler, who was a two-year starter on NU's NCAA Tournament teams in the early 1990s. He ranks seventh on the Huskers' career blocked shot list despite playing only two seasons at NU.
- Tai Webster is one of only six players in Division I - and two from power conferences currently averaging 17.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. The other is Washington's Markelle Fultz, who is listed as the top prospect on Draft Express' 2017 draft board.
- To put Tai Webster's season averages (17.2 ppg; 5.1 rpg; 4.0 apg) in perspective, only two other Big Ten players - Michigan's Derrick Walton Jr. and Illinois' Malcolm Hill - currently average at least 14.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game entering the Big Ten Tournament.
- The Huskers have played four one-point games - all coming in Big Ten play. While the four one-point games tie for third in school history and the most since 2010-11, NU's four one-point wins in conference play is the most in school history.
- Nebraska averaged 70.6 points per game in Big Ten play, which is the Huskers' highest scoring average in conference play since the 2001-02 campaign.
- Nebraska's strength of schedule is third nationally according to the NCAA's RPI as of Monday morning. The Huskers have played 13 games against top-50 RPI teams, a total which is sixth nationally. In addition, NU has played 23 games against top-100 RPI teams, a total which ties for the national lead.
- Nebraska's non-conference strength of schedule is first nationally entering this week's Big Ten Tournament. No Big Ten team in the last 10 years (2008-present) has had a top-five non-conference strength of schedule heading into Selection Sunday.