Posted By: Sports
Game #28 Northwestern
Game Date March 1, 2014
Tipoff Time 4:05 p.m. (CT)
Venue Pinnacle Bank Arena
2013-14 Record: 16-11, 8-7 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 31-29 (2nd year)
Career Record: 314-249 (19th year)
2013-14 Record: 12-16, 5-10 Big Ten
Head Coach: Chris Collins
Record at Northwestern: 12-16 (1st year)
Career Record: Same
Huskers on TV/Radio/Internet
Television: ESPNU (DirecTV Ch. 208, Dish Ch. 141, Ch. 235 on Time Warner Cable; Ch. 220 on Cox Cable)
Play by Play: Mike Couzens
Expert Analysis: Darrin Horn
Online: WatchESPN app on android and iOS devices
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. 194
Huskers Host Northwestern on Legends Weekend
The Nebraska basketball team returns to Pinnacle Bank Arena Saturday afternoon, as the Huskers host Northwestern on Legends Weekend. The matchup between the Huskers and Northwestern is completely sold out, as a crowd in excess of 15,000 is expected for Nebraska's only Saturday home game of the Big Ten season.
Tipoff is set for 4:05 p.m. (CT) and the game will be carried nationally on ESPNU (DirecTV Ch. 208, Dish Ch. 141, Ch. 235 on Time Warner Cable; Ch. 220 on Cox Cable) with Mike Couzens and Darrin Horn on the call. The game will also be available on the WatchESPN app for iOS or Android devices.
Saturday'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.
Saturday's game is part of Legends Weekend, a two-day event which brings former players, coaches and staff back to campus to interact with the current Husker team. Another tradition of Legends Weekends is that the Huskers will don throwback jerseys for the game. On Saturday, the Huskers will honor the 1911-12 Husker squad which won the program's first-ever conference title. The first 700 Red Zone students in attendance will receive a custom shirt for Legends Weekend.
The Huskers (16-11, 8-7 B1G) saw their five-game win streak snapped Wednesday night in a 60-49 loss at Illinois. The Fighting Illini forced 15 turnovers and turned them into 24 points, while enjoying a 15-6 advantage in second-chance points. Those two things mitigated a Husker defensive effort which held the Fighting Illini to just 37 percent shooting from the field. The bright spot in the loss was the play of backups Leslee Smith and Benny Parker, who combined for 15 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the field.
Nebraska has plenty to play for entering the month of March, as the Huskers can guarantee itself a top-six Big Ten finish and a .500 conference record with a win against the Wildcats.
Northwestern (12-16, 5-10 B1G) has been off since a six-point loss to Indiana last Saturday. The Wildcats, who are looking to snap a five-game losing streak which began with a 53-49 loss to the Huskers in Evanston on Feb. 8, feature one of the best guards in the Big Ten in Drew Crawford. The senior averages 15.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while leading the Wildcats with 60 assists.
By the Numbers
.846 - Nebraska's winning percentage in games decided by five points or less under Tim Miles. The Huskers are 11-2 in such games over the last two seasons.
.875 - The Huskers are 7-1 under Tim Miles on ESPNU over the last two seasons.
.889 - David Rivers' shooting percentage from the floor since returning to the starting lineup on Feb. 16. He is averaging 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds a game in that stretch.
2 - Nebraska and Indiana are the only Big Ten team with multiple 30-point scorers this season.
4 - The Huskers have had four players total double-doubles this season (Leslee Smith, Walter Pitchford, Shavon Shields and Terran Petteway).
Northwestern comes into Saturday's game with a 12-16 record and 5-10 Big Ten mark looking to snap a five-game losing streak. The Wildcats have been off since a 61-56 loss to Indiana in Evanston on Feb. 22. The Wildcats are led by Chris Collins, who spent the last 13 seasons at Duke under Hall of Fame Coach Mike Krzyzewski before taking the Northwestern job last spring.
Northwestern, which returned four starters and eight letterwinners from 2012-13, got off to a slow start, going 7-9 including three straight losses in Big Ten play before playing some of their best basketball of the season. The Wildcats went 5-2 over a seven-game stretch, including road wins at Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota, heading into the first matchup with the Huskers. That day, Nebraska overcame a six-point halftime deficit to win 53-49, and Northwestern has dropped its next four, including six-point setbacks to both Minnesota and Indiana.
The Wildcats' strength is on the defensive end, as they are allowing just 63.7 points per game to rank fourth in the league in scoring defense. Northwestern is holding foes to 41 percent shooting, including just 32 percent from 3-point range to rank fourth in the Big Ten. On the other hand, Northwestern's offense has struggled at times, shooting just 40 percent from the field and are being out-rebounded by over four boards per game. The Wildcats average a conference-low 60.5 points per game.
Fifth-year senior Drew Crawford has been the catalyst for the Wildcats, as he leads the team in scoring (15.6) and rebounding (6.6). He had 30 points in a win at Wisconsin earlier this season and ranks among the top 10 in the Big Ten in both scoring and rebounding. JerShon Cobb has been solid for the Wildcats at the point, averaging 12.2 points per game and dishing out 57 assists, but missed the Indiana game with a foot injury and is out for Saturday's game. Sophomore Tre Demps gives Northwestern another outside scorer as he averages 11.1 points per game off the bench while shooting 36 percent from 3-point range. Sophomore Alex Olah mans the interior with 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game while blocking nearly two shots a contest. If Cobb is unable to go, junior Dave Sobolewski will be relied on, as he started at the point for the previous two years before suffering a concussion in January.
Nebraska-Northwestern Series History
Nebraska and Northwestern meet for only the eighth time ever on Saturday afternoon, as the Huskers hold a 5-2 lead in a series that dates back to 1933. Nebraska is 2-0 all-time in Lincoln with victories in 1975 and 2013. The Huskers have won five of the last six meetings dating back to 1975.
First Meeting: Nebraska 53, Northwestern 49
Walter Pitchford and Terran Petteway combined 25 second-half points, as Nebraska overcame a six-point halftime deficit to knock off Northwestern, 53-49, Saturday afternoon at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Petteway led all scorers with 17 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out a season-high four assists, while Pitchford scored 13 of his then-career high 15 points in the second half. Nebraska, which shot 25 percent in the first half, shot a blistering 56 percent in the second half, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range, while holding the Wildcats to just 37 percent on the day. Trailing 22-16 at the break, Nebraska opened the second half on a 14-5 spurt, as Pitchford scored eight points to help the Huskers build a 30-27 lead. The Huskers took control later in the half, as Shields and Benny Parker combined for eight straight Husker points to take a 40-32 lead with 8:28 left. The Wildcats trailed 44-36, made one last run as two straight Drew Crawford 3-pointers and a basket from Tre Demps tied the score at 44 with 3:52 left.
On Northwestern's next possession, Pitchford was fouled on a defensive rebound, and the sophomore made two straight free throws to put the Huskers up 46-44 with 3:10 left. On the Huskers' next possession after a Wildcat miss, Pitchford came up clutch, as Petteway found the 6-foot-10 forward for a 3-pointer to give Nebraska a five-point lead.
The Wildcats pulled to within 49-46 on a pair of JerShon Cobb free throws with 1:53 left before Petteway delivered the dagger, a long 3-pointer from the wing as the shot clock expired to put the Huskers up 52-46. Cobb led Northwestern with 14 points and four assists while Drew Crawford was held to 13 points on 4-of-13 shooting.
Last Time Out
The Nebraska men's basketball team had its five-game win streak come to an end on Wednesday evening with a 60-49 loss on the road at Illinois.
Illinois (16-12, 5-10) used a 12-0 run midway through the second half as the home team set the tone for the remainder of the contest. The Fighting Illini forced NU into 12 second-half turnovers, while committing just a pair of miscues. Kendrick Nunn led the Fighting Illini with 13 points, while Rayvonte Rice and Malcolm Hill put up 10 points apiece.
The Huskers (16-11, 8-7) received a large contribution from their role players as a trio combined for 23 points on the road. Leslee Smith amassed nine points on the evening, while David Rivers chipped in with eight as Benny Parker added six points.
Sophomore Terran Petteway, the Big Ten's leading scorer, paced the NU offense with a team-high 13 points despite struggling from the field. Shavon Shields, an Olate, Kan. native, pitched in eight points and grabbed nine rebounds.
The Scarlet and Cream held Illinois to just 37.3 percent shooting from the floor, marking the sixth straight opponent they've held under 40 percent shooting. The Huskers shot 44.4 percent going 20-for-45 while managing just 3-for-13 from beyond the arc. This marks the third straight game in which NU has fired better than 44 percent from the field.
Illinois posted a 34-28 rebound edge on the night and forced NU into 15 turnovers. Neither team was able to find their offensive strides in the closely-contested first half as the Illini held a 27-24 halftime lead.
Quick Look at Nebraska
It has taken less than two years for the Huskers to rebuild under Tim Miles. Only two of the 12 recruited scholarship players have been at NU longer than two seasons (Ray Gallegos and David Rivers), and Gallegos is the only scholarship senior on the 2013-14 roster before Mike Peltz was put on scholarship in January.
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.
Husker Defense Makes Strides
The biggest strides the Huskers have made during their recent surge have been on the defensive end. A big reason why the Huskers are 8-3 over the last 11 games is Nebraska's improved defense. In that time, NU is holding opponents to just 39 percent from the field, a significant drop from the first 16 games. Nebraska has been exceptional defensively in the last six contests, holding each opponent under 40 percent from the field. It marks the first time since at least 1990 that the Huskers have limited six straight conference foes to below 40 percent shooting.
Finding Offensive Pace
Despite having a revamped lineup, the Huskers have been more proficient offensively, averaging nearly eight points more per game than at this point last year.
Legends Weekend Set for Saturday
Petteway to wear 44 on Saturday
Smith played basketball at Nebraska for Coach Moe Iba during the 1983-84 and 1984-85 seasons and helped the Huskers to a pair of NIT Tournament appearances before embarking on a 15-year professional career oversees. Following his basketball career, he went into law enforcement and was killed on duty while responding to a fight call.
Smith was a long-time family friend of Terran's parents, Terry and Joetta, and Petteway's family asked Ronnie's widow if Terran could honor the former Husker by wearing his jersey on Legends Weekend.
The Nebraska basketball program's second-annual Legends Weekend will take place this weekend (Feb. 28-March 1), as the Huskers will take on Northwestern at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Saturday's game, which is a 4 p.m. start on ESPNU is already sold out.
The event was created by Coach Tim Miles with the Husker Athletic Department and the N-Club to welcome back former players and staff and recognize them for their contributions to the Nebraska basketball program, as well as have the current Husker team connect with former players and learn more about the history of Nebraska basketball.
Nearly 50 former players, coaches and staff are returning to Lincoln for the weekend's events, which includes a private reception on Friday night, a chance to tour Nebraska's basketball facilities and watch Saturday's walk-through before the Huskers take on Northwestern. In addition, the former players will be introduced and recognized during Saturday's halftime ceremony.
The Huskers will honor one of its greatest teams in school history on Saturday, as Nebraska's jerseys will pay homage to the 1911-12 Huskers. That team, coached by the legendary E.O. "Jumbo" Stiehm, went 14-1 on the season and won the Missouri Valley Conference title with an 8-0 record. The 1911-12 team went 6-0 at home, winning five of its six home games by double figures. The Huskers' only loss that season was to Minnesota before Nebraska closed the season with nine consecutive wins, including a pair of victories over Kansas to close the season. Stiehm, who also coached football at Nebraska, became the first coach in conference history to win both football and basketball titles in the same year.
The jerseys, specially created by adidas for Saturday's game, are inspired by the 1911-12 team and feature cream colored tops and bottoms with a White accent stripe with an N logo across the middle of the jersey tops. One major difference in the jerseys is that the 1911-12 Husker jerseys did not have jersey numbers, so the number on Saturday's throwbacks are below the stripe as well as on the back of the jersey.
Husker students will also have a chance to be a part of the special day, as the first 700 students in attendance in the Red Zone will receive a custom-made shirt to celebrate Legends Weekend.
Petteway on Track for Historic Season
Terrran Petteway has come from obscurity to being a Big Ten Player of the Year candidate in his first season at Nebraska. The 6-foot-6 forward from Galveston, Texas, enters the week leading the Big Ten at 18.2 points per game while adding 4.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists per contest.
The Son Also Rises
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 and a three-time NFL Hall of Fame finalist, the younger Shields has played an integral role over the last two years on the court for the Huskers.
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.
Pitchford Provides Scoring Punch
Another one of Nebraska's transfers, sophomore Walter Pitchford has developed into a consistent scoring option for the Huskers. The 6-foot-10 forward began his career at Florida, where he was a reserve on the Gators' Elite Eight squad in 2011-12. This year, he has taken advantage of the new surroundings and has been productive, averaging 8.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. One of the Huskers' best athletes with a 42-inch vertical leap, Pitchford is also one of the Huskers' top 3-point shooters at 40 percent on the season.
Gallegos Looks to Prove Less is More
While senior guard Ray Gallegos was Nebraska's top returning scorer heading into the season, the Huskers' increased depth has made him a more efficient player in 2013-14.
While Gallegos is known for being a long-range shooter who can hit shots in bunches, he has been a more well-rounded player in 2013-14. He is fourth on the team in scoring at 7.0 points per game while averaging 1.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. Last year, Gallegos averaged a Big Ten-high 37.5 minutes per game, including nearly 39 minutes per game in conference play, but NU's increased depth has reduced his minutes to just under 27 minutes per game.
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.
Webster Makes a Point, Plays the Point
Tai Webster has found a home in the Huskers' backcourt, averaging 4.7 points, 2.1 assists and 2.2 rebounds per game heading into the Northwestern game. While he is averaging just 3.1 points per game in Big Ten play, Webster has found other ways to help the Huskers win, as he is second on the team in assists (27) and fourth in steals (12) while hitting 73 percent from the foul line.
Webster had his Big Ten performance of the year against Penn State on Feb. 23, totaling 10 points, a season-high five rebounds and a team-best three assists. It marked his first double-digit effort in Big Ten play, as he went 8-of-10 from the line against the Nittany Lions and hit his only shot from the field. He also performed well in NU's win over No. 17 Ohio State with nine points, including 5-of-6 from the foul line, and two rebounds. Webster had five points and four assists in 29 minutes in the win over Minnesota on Jan. 26 and had four points, two assists and two steals against Indiana on Jan. 30. He dished out four assists and matched his personal best with four steals at No. 22 Iowa on Dec. 31.
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. He has dished out a season-high five assists on three occasions, most recently against Arkansas State on Dec. 14.
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.
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.
A Historic Win
Nebraska's 60-51 win at No. 9 Michigan State on Feb. 16 was one of the Huskers' best road wins in recent history.The win marked just the fourth win over a top-10 opponent outside Lincoln and the first since 1997. NU also snapped a 29-game losing streak against top-10 teams away from Lincoln.