Posted By: Sports
Game #15 Michigan
Game Date Jan. 9, 2014
Tipoff Time 8:05 p.m. (CT)
Venue Pinnacle Bank Arena
2013-14 Record: 8-6, 0-2 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 23-24 (2nd year)
Career Record: 306-244 (19th year)
2013-14 Record: 10-4, 2-0 Big Ten
Head Coach: John Beilein
Record at Michigan: 132-89 (7th year)
Career Record: 683-407 (36th year)
Huskers on TV/Radio/Internet
DirecTV (Ch. 209); DISH (Ch. 144); Time Warner Cable (Chs. 35/1302), Cox Cable (Chs. 32/1030)
Play-by-play: Joe Tessitore
Expert Analysis: Sean Farnham
Online: WatchESPN app and WatchESPN.com
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. 92, XM Ch. 190
Huskers Return Home for Michigan On Thursday
The Nebraska basketball team returns to Pinnacle Bank Arena for the first time in 2014, as the Huskers host Michigan in the Big Ten home opener Thursday evening. Tipoff is set for 8:05 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena and the game will be carried nationally on ESPN2 with Joe Tessitore and Sean Farnham on the call. The game is also available on the WatchESPN app and at WatchESPN.com.
A crowd of close to 15,000 is expected for Thursday's game while a limited number of tickets are available in both the 100 ($30) and 300 Levels ($10). For ticket availability, call Huskers.com or call 800-8-BIGRED. In addition, UNL students can still reserve their tickets by calling the Nebraska Athletic Ticket Office at 800-8-BIGRED by Wednesday afternoon.
Thursday's game will also be carried across the state on the 27-station Husker Sports Network with Kent Pavelka and Matt Davison calling all of the action, including flagship stations KLIN (1400 AM/94.5 FM) in Lincoln and KFAB (1110 AM) in Omaha (complete list of affiliates is on page five of the game notes). The game can also be heard on Huskers.com and is available on the Huskers' app on iOS or android devices, as well as Sirius and XM Radio.
The Huskers (8-6, 0-2 B1G) look to snap a three-game losing streak following an 84-53 loss at third-ranked Ohio State on Saturday. The Huskers trailed 33-30 with 2:28 left in the half, but the Buckeyes closed the half on a 7-0 run and pulled away during the final 20 minutes of action.
Despite the loss to the Buckeyes, the Huskers got a strong performance from junior Leslee Smith, who was moved into the starting lineup as Walter Pitchford was battling the flu Saturday morning. Smith, making his first start of the year, totaled 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting and 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the year. The 6-foot-8 junior is averaging 7.9 points on 61 percent shooting and a team-high 6.5 rebounds per game despite averaging just under 20 minutes of playing time. Smith is ninth in the Big Ten in rebounding and would rank fourth in shooting percentage but is just shy of the conference minimum.
If Nebraska is to extend its home win streak to 10 games, the Huskers will have to knock off a talented Michigan team which is 10-4 on the season and 2-0 in conference action. The Wolverines bring a four-game win streak to Lincoln following a 74-51 victory over Northwestern on Sunday afternoon. UM features sophomores Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III. Stauskas leads the Wolverines with 17.8 points and 3.6 assists per game, while Robinson averages 13.4 points per game on 50 percent shooting and 4.6 rebounds per game.
By the Numbers
1, 2, 20 - Part of the reason Nebraska has averaged 56.3 points per game during the three-game losing streak is the defensive teams the Huskers have faced. Over the last three games, the Huskers faced the No. 1 (Ohio State), No. 2 (Cincinnati) and No. 20 (Iowa) defensive teams in the country according to Kenpom.com.
9 - Consecutive home games won by the Huskers, including the first seven in Pinnacle Bank Arena. It is Nebraska's longest home win streak in the Big Ten era, and longest since a 14-game streak to open the 2010-11 season.
81% - Percentage of points in Big Ten play by newcomers in the Husker lineup. Five of the Huskers' top six scorers in conference play are in their first season at Nebraska.
320:33 - Minutes since Walter Pitchford committed his last turnover on Dec. 19, 2011. The streak goes back 21 games dating back to his time at the University of Florida.
Michigan comes into Thursday's game with a 10-4 record and a four-game winning streak following a 74-51 win over Northwestern on Sunday afternoon. UM is 2-0 in Big Ten play, as it opened conference action with a 63-60 win at Minnesota on Jan. 2.
The Wolverines returned three starters and eight letterwinners from a team that won 31 games and were the 2013 NCAA runner up. Under the direction of John Beilein, the Wolverines have reached the NCAA Tournament in three straight seasons, including the program's first Final Four appearance since 1993 last season. UM opened the season with wins in four of its first five games, including an overtime win over Florida State, before falling to Charlotte in the title game of the Puerto Rico Tipoff. The Wolverines are 6-1 at home with the only setback coming in a two-point loss to No. 1 Arizona, but just 1-2 in road games, including setbacks at Iowa State (77-70) and Duke (79-69).
Michigan has been without the services of preseason All-American Mitch McGary, who played in just eight games before electing to undergo back surgery. McGary averaged 9.5 points and a team-best 8.3 rebounds per game. Despite McGary's loss, the Wolverines have been led by a trio of sophomores in Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III and Caris LeVert, all of who average in double figures. Stauskas leads Michigan and ranks among the Big Ten scoring leaders at 17.8 points per game while shooting 45 percent from 3-point range. He also paces UM with 47 assists. Robinson, who could have been a first-round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, averages 13.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while LeVert is at 12 points per contest.
Nebraska-Michigan Series History
Thursday's meeting is the 11th between the Huskers and Wolverines. Michigan leads the all-time series, 8-2, in a series that dates back to 1949, although the Wolverines' win over the Huskers in the 1992 Rainbow Classic was later vacated.
Michigan has been ranked in the national polls in five of the 10 previous matchups, including No. 2 during the lone meeting of 2012-13, a 62-47 win in Ann Arbor. One of Nebraska's two wins in the series was a 74-73 win over No. 1 Michigan at the NU Coliseum on Dec. 12, 1964. In that game, Fred Hare's buzzer beater knocked off the Cazzie Russell-led Wolverines. That win is one of three wins over No. 1 ranked teams in Nebraska's history. Nebraska is 2-1 all-time in Lincoln with wins in 1956 and 1964.
Thursday's game will be the first of two meetings with Michigan, as the Huskers visit Ann Arbor on Feb. 5. Nebraska and Michigan were single-play opponents in each of the Huskers' first two years of Big Ten competition.
Last Meeting vs. Michigan
Nebraska battled No. 2 Michigan for nearly all of 40 minutes, but the Wolverines pulled away down the stretch for a 62-47 victory in Ann Arbor.
Ray Gallegos led all scorers with 19 points for the Huskers, including four 3-pointers, but All-American Trey Burke's 18 points led four Michigan players in double figures as the Wolverines remained unbeaten.
Nebraska held the Wolverines to 38.9 percent shooting while holding Michigan to its lowest ouput to date in 2012-13. Michigan, which averaged 94.5 points in its first two Big Ten wins, was held to a season-low scoring output at the time, but used strong rebounding to ward off a pesky Husker team. Michigan (16-0, 3-0 Big Ten) had a 47-30 advantage on the boards and held Nebraska to 33.9 percent shooting.
In addition to Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. had 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas added 14 and 13 points, respectively, for the victors.
Last time Out
Despite Leslee Smith's third double-double of the season, the Huskers fell at No. 3 Ohio State, 84-53, Saturday afternoon.
Smith had 11 points and 10 rebounds in his first start of the season, but a 7-0 Buckeye run to end the first half proved costly, as Nebraska fell to 8-6 on the season and 0-2 in Big Ten play.
Nebraska was within 33-30 after a Shavon Shields basket with 2:28 left in the half, but Aaron Craft's 3-pointer started a 7-0 spurt to close the half to give Ohio State (15-0, 2-0 B1G) a 10-point halftime lead.
Craft finished with nine points, four assists and three steals, as the Buckeyes put five players in double figures and shot 54 percent in the win. Amedeo Della Valle came off the bench to lead OSU with 15 points on 5-of-5 shooting, including a trio of 3-pointers, while Marc Loving added 13 off the bench for the Buckeyes.
Terran Petteway joined Smith in double figures with 13 points, but Nebraska shot 38 percent, including just 9-of-28 after halftime as Ohio State pulled away late. OSU, which shot 54 percent on the day including 9-of-19 from 3-point range, also forced 13 Husker turnovers, leading to 17 Buckeye points.
Shields to Be Honored as Whitehead Memorial Scholarship Winner
Nebraska sophomore Shavon Shields will be honored at halftime of Thursday's game against Michigan as the first recipient of the Bus Whitehead Memorial Basketball Scholarship.
The scholarship, which was established in 2013 by Sydney Uthoff, Lesley Jaggers and Mark Whitehead, honors the contributions of Bus Whitehead, who was a two-time, all-conference selection and led the Huskers to consecutive Big Seven Championships in 1949 and 1950.
The criteria for the award is a candidate who has demonstrated a high level of athletic achievement, moral character, effective leadership skills, integrity and a commitment to excellence in all endeavors.
The Whitehead Memorial Scholarship is the first fully-endowed scholarship for the Husker basketball program.
Quick Look at Nebraska
As second-year coach Tim Miles continues his rebuilding process at Nebraska, the Huskers' 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.
This season, Nebraska is picked 12th in the preseason poll of writers with a roster which is 293rd (of 351 teams) in experience according to KenPom.com. Six of NU's 10 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.
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.
Nebraska-Purdue Jan. 12 Time Set
The Big Ten Conference announced the start times for the men's and women's basketball games on Sunday, Jan. 12. The times were listed as TBA on the schedule until the NFL Playoff schedule was set. The Huskers will take on Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind., at 11 a.m. (CT) and the game will be televised on BTN.
Finding Offensive Pace
Despite having six new faces in Nebraska's primary 10-man rotation, the Huskers have been a much more prolific offensive team in 2013-14. The Huskers are averaging nearly 10 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.
Setting a Benchmark
As the Huskers have looked at different lineup combinations, one constant during non-conference play has been improved bench play. Nebraska is averaging 21.9 points and 14.6 rebounds per game from its bench entering Thursday's game with Michigan, with Deverell Biggs and Leslee Smith providing much of the punch off the bench.
Biggs is third on the team in scoring at 9.5 ppg while averaging 19.4 minutes per outing. He is shooting 40 percent from the floor and is fourth among all Big Ten bench players in scoring average. Biggs scored a season-high 18 points against Northern Illinois on Nov. 30, one of four double-figure efforts this season. The 6-foot guard also led NU with six rebounds in the loss to Creighton on Dec. 8, and dished out a season-high six assists against Arkansas State on Dec. 14. He opened Big Ten play with 12 points, four rebounds and a pair of steals at No. 22 Iowa and had nine points and three assists at No. 3 Ohio State.
Smith has been the Huskers' most consistent performer according to Tim Miles, as he gives NU a post presence. Smith is averaging 7.9 points on 61 percent shooting and a team-high 6.5 rebounds per game to rank ninth in the Big Ten. He also leads the Huskers and ranks 13th in the Big Ten with 0.9 blocks per game. The 6-foot-8 junior college transfer has a team-high three double-doubles, most recently an 11-point, 10-rebound effort at No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday when he was moved into the starting lineup for the first time.
The primary rotation is rounded out by guards Benny Parker and Nathan Hawkins and forward David Rivers. Parker has been NU's primary backup point guard and has appeared in all 14 games. Hawkins missed NU's first eight games with a foot injury and has eased his way into the rotation, while Rivers, who started 17 games in 2012-13, has appeared in nine contests.
Record-Breaking Season Ticket Sales
The move to Pinnacle Bank Arena has been a boon to Nebraska basketball, as the Husker program has shattered season-ticket records. On May 3, all of the season tickets allotted for 2013-14 had been accounted for, as season-ticket sales were up nearly 95 percent from 2012-13. It marked the third straight season that tickets sales were up.
The Son Also Rises
Nebraska sophomore Shavon Shields is 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 has played an integral role over the last two years 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 started to shine during the 2013 Big Ten Tournament, averaging 16.5 points on 61 percent shooting in games against Purdue and Ohio State.
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 Terran Petteway, Walter Pitchford 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. All three have played significant roles for the Huskers this season.
Petteway, who began his career at Texas Tech, has been one of the Big Ten's best newcomers. He enters the weekend ranked sixth in the conference in scoring at 17.3 ppg, while also averaging 5.1 caroms per outing.
Pitchford, who played 13 games at Florida in helping the Gators to the Elite Eight in 2011-12, has started at center for the Huskers, averaging 8.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-10 forward is a threat from long range, shooting 37 percent from 3-point range.
Biggs has become a vital spark plug off the bench, as he averages 9.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game while playing 19.4 minutes per game. He was a first-team NJCAA All-American at Seward (Kan.) Community College in 2011-12 before redshirting last season. Biggs, who is from Omaha, was the Huskers' first scholarship recruit from Nebraska since 2001.
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. Nebraska finished 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, including a school-record two turnovers against Purdue on Jan. 16.
This season, the Huskers have been among the national leaders in that category, ranking 31st nationally with 10.7 turnovers per game. The Huskers have committed 10 turnovers or less in six of 14 contests.
Nebraska also ranks third in the Big Ten in turnover margin at +2.8 per contest. The Huskers also do a good job of getting the ball from opponents, ranking second in the Big Ten in both steals with 7.8 per game.
Webster Makes a Point, Plays the Point
Tai Webster has found a home in the Huskers' backcourt, averaging 6.1 points, 2.5 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game entering Thursday's game against Michigan. Webster has been a much better distributor in recent games, averaging 3.2 assists per game over the last eight contests, including a streak of five straight games with a season high before it was snapped against The Citadel on Dec. 21. Webster had four assists and matched his personal best with four steals in Tuesday's Big Ten opener at No. 22 Iowa and five points and four rebounds at No. 3 Ohio State.
The 6-foot-4 freshman enjoyed the best game of his career on Nov. 24 against Georgia, scoring 14 points and dishing out three assists in NU's 73-65 win. 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 who does not turn 19 until after this season, 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.
Gallegos Dials in From Long Distance
Senior guard Ray Gallegos is Nebraska's top returning scorer, giving Tim Miles a luxury that few Husker coaches have had over the past few years. Gallegos' 12.5 points per game average is the highest for a Husker returnee since Aleks Maric in 2007-08.
While Gallegos is known for being a long-range shooter who can hit shots in bunches, he has been more well rounded in 2013-14. He is fifth on the team in scoring at 7.8 points per game while averaging 1.8 assists and 1.7 rebounds per game.
The Huskers' New Home
Opened on Aug. 29, 2013, the 15,000-seat Pinnacle Bank Arena is the new home of the Nebraska men's and women's basketball programs. Pinnacle Bank Arena is part of a $344 million project in the Haymarket District which also includes a 200-room hotel, 100,000 square feet of retail space, another 100,000 square feet of office space and 100 residential units.
The $179 million dollar arena is easily accessible in downtown Lincoln as nearly 5,100 parking stalls will be within walking distance of the facility by the fall of 2014. Pinnacle Bank Arena includes an expansive student section with 1,000 seats on the 100 Level, including behind the team benches. Pinnacle Bank Arena also includes 36 suites, 20 loge boxes and 11 permanent concession stands around the arena.
Containing 470,400 square feet, the Pinnacle Bank Arena seats over 15,000 fans when configured for Husker basketball games. It is divided into two bowls (upper and lower) and three levels (100, 200, 300) with Premium Seating Suites and Loge Boxes located between Level 100 and Level 200. There are over 160 concession points of sale and two private Club Lounges, one located on the Main Concourse (Level 100) and one on the Premium Level Concourse.