Nebraska MBB: Huskers Look to Tame Tigers in ACC/Big Ten Challen - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Nebraska MBB: Huskers Look to Tame Tigers in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

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Posted By: Sports

Courtesy: UNL Media Relations


Date: Wednesday, Nov. 30
Time: 8:15 p.m. (CT)
Location: Clemson, S.C.
Arena: Littlejohn Coliseum

2016-17 Record: 4-2
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 67-69 (5th year)
Career Record: 350-289 (22nd year)

2016-17 Record: 3-2
Head coach: Brad Brownell
Record at Clemson: 110-89 (7th year)
Career Record: 277-174 (15th year)

Television: ESPNU
Play-by-play: Rich Hollenberg
Expert Analysis: Dino Gaudio
Online: and the WatchESPN app

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
Expert Analysis: Matt Davison
Also available online at, on the Huskers App and on TuneIn Radio and the TuneIn Radio App.

Huskers Look to Tame Tigers
The Nebraska men's basketball team finishes its four-game road trip on Wednesday evening, as the Huskers travel to Clemson, S.C., to take on the Tigers as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Tipoff at Littlejohn Coliseum is set for 8:15 p.m. (CT) and the game will be carried nationally on ESPNU and the WatchESPN app with Rich Hollenberg and Dino Gaudio on the call.

Fans can also listen to all of the action throughout the season on the IMG Husker Sports Network with Kent Pavelka and Matt Davison on the call, including on and the Huskers app.

The Huskers (4-2) will look to bounce back after dropping the third-place game, 66-53, to Virginia Tech at the Wooden Legacy Sunday afternoon. Nebraska was held to a season-low 53 points - 20 points below its season average entering the game - and shot just 29.8 percent from the field. Despite the cold-shooting effort, Nebraska had its opportunities late and was within 56-50 with 1:34 remaining before the Hokies put the game away at the foul line.

For Nebraska, senior Tai Webster continued his strong early-season run in Sunday's game. The 6-foot-4 guard led the Huskers with 23 points and eight rebounds, matching his career high in both categories. Webster turned in a strong performance at the Wooden Legacy, averaging 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game in the three contests and is now fifth in the Big Ten in scoring at 18.5 points per game.

For Nebraska to pick up the road win and improve to 3-0 in ACC/Big Ten Challenge road games under Tim Miles, the Huskers will look to get a bounce back performance from Glynn Watson Jr. The sophomore guard averaged 23.5 points in NU's first two games in California before being held to two points on 1-11 shooting against the Hokies. Despite the off-shooting day, Watson is second on the team in scoring at 13.3 points per game and leads the Big Ten in steals at 2.3 per contest.

Clemson comes into Wednesday's matchup with a 3-2 record following an 83-74 win over High Point last Friday. The Tigers feature six players averaging double-figures led by All-ACC performer Jaron Blossomgame, who is averaging 18.4 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

2.3 - Steals per game for Husker sophomore guard Glynn Watson Jr., a total which leads the Big Ten entering the week. The last Husker to average more than two steals per game was Cookie Belcher, who averaged 2.7 per game in 2000-01.

0 - Number of times Nebraska has ever played consecutive teams from the ACC before this week's games against Virginia Tech and at Clemson.

7 - Number of 20-point games by Huskers in 2016-17 (Webster-3; Watson-3; McVeigh-1). Entering this season, the entire returning roster combined for two, both coming from Webster in 2015-16.

8.0 - Rebounds per game over the last three contests for sophomore Ed Morrow Jr. He leads the Huskers in rebounding at 7.0 per game.

40.0 - Nebraska is holding opponents to 40.0 field goal percentage. Only one team has shot 45 percent (UCLA) against the Huskers in 2016-17.

.700 - Nebraska is 7-3 under Miles in games decided by two points or less over the past four-plus seasons.

The Tigers come into Wednesday's game with a 3-2 record following an 83-74 win over High Point on Friday. Clemson returned three starters and nine letterwinners from a team that went 17-14 and finished tied for seventh in the ACC last season. Seventh-year coach Brad Brownell has guided three schools (UNC Wilmington, Wright State and Clemson) to NCAA Tournament bids in his 15-year coaching career. Senior forward Jaron Blossomgame earned first-team All-ACC honors in 2016 and paces the Tigers in scoring at 18.4 points per game. He is one of six players in double figures. The Tigers are an experienced club with three seniors and two juniors in the lineup. Senior Sidy Djitte averages a double-double at 10.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Clemson is aggressive offensively, averaging nearly 24 attempts from the foul line per contest.

This is the first meeting between the schools in basketball, marking the Huskers' third first-time opponent this season (also Mary and Dayton). Nebraska is now 14-14 all-time against the current members of the ACC following the Virginia Tech loss.

The 2016-17 season marks the 18th edition of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Big Ten is 5-10-2 all-time in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, but unbeaten over the last seven years (5-0-2). The winner of the challenge earns the Commissioner’s Cup, and in case of a tie, the Cup remains with the conference which won the event most recently (in this case the Big Ten).

  • At 3-2, Nebraska is one of three Big Ten teams with a winning record in the challenge, joining Purdue (9-6) and Minnesota (9-8, prior to Monday's game). The Huskers are 2-0 on the road in the history of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, winning at Wake Forest (2012) and at Florida State (2014)
  • Nebraska is 3-1 in Big Ten/ACC Challenge games under Tim Miles, including wins at Wake Forest (2012) and at Florida State (2015) along with the home win over Miami (2013) before losing in overtime to Miami in 2015.
  • Wednesday's matchup between Nebraska and Clemson is one of seven first-time ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchups in 2016. Other first-time matchups include Wake Forest-Northwestern; Pittsburgh-Maryland; N.C. State-Illinois; Virginia Tech-Michigan; Purdue-Louisville and Rutgers-Miami.
  • The Huskers are 6-4 in conference challenge games dating back to their days in the Big 12 Conference.

Despite 23 points and eight rebounds from Tai Webster, Nebraska fell to Virginia Tech, 66-53, in the third-place game of the Wooden Legacy on Sunday.
Webster led all scorers with 23 points, including 10-of-12 from the foul line, and matched his career high with eight rebounds, but the Huskers shot a season-low 29 percent, including 4-of-21 from 3-point range. Ed Morrow Jr. was the only other Husker in double figures, finishing with 13 points and seven rebounds

Nebraska led by as many as eight in the first half before taking a 26-23 lead into the locker room before the Hokies rallied behind the play of Zack LeDay, who finished with 19 points and nine rebounds. LeDay keyed a 6-0 spurt for the Hokies coming out of the locker room with a pair of dunks to give Virginia Tech a 29-26 lead. NU regrouped with a 5-0 run as a 3-pointer by Jack McVeigh and a basket by Webster gave the Huskers a 31-29 lead.

Virginia Tech took control midway through the second stanza, running off six straight points as part of a 13-3 surge to build a 10-point lead with 7:47 left. The Huskers were within 41-37 after a Webster 3-pointer, but 3’s from Ty Outlaw and Justin Robinson gave the Hokies a 47-37 cushion.
The Huskers continued to battle, cutting a 12-point deficit to 52-44 after a Morrow basket and eventually whittled the deficit to 54-48 after two Webster free throws with 2:01 left, but the Hokies salted the game at the line, going 10-of-10 in the final two minutes.

The Huskers men’s basketball team will spend next Thanksgiving weekend in Florida, as Nebraska will be one of the eight teams for the 2017 AdvoCare Invitational announced on Nov. 25.
The eight-team field for the 2017 tournament – to be held Thursday, Friday and Sunday, Nov. 23, 24 and 26, at HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports near Orlando, Fla. – will include Long Beach State, Marist, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon State, St. John’s, UCF and West Virginia. Three teams played in postseason tournaments in 2016, including Oregon State and West Virginia, which made the NCAA Tournament in 2016, and Long Beach State, which qualified for the NIT.

For Husker fans, the field features a potential matchup with an old rival, as the Huskers and Missouri could meet for the first time since Nebraska joined the Big Ten. The series dates back to 1908, but the teams have not met since the 2010-11 campaign. While the Huskers and Tigers have met 119 times, NU has played the remainder of the field just 14 times and none since a win over Oregon State in 2009. NU has played Oregon State 10 times, and has not faced Long Beach State since 1996 and West Virginia since 1930. The Huskers have never squared off against Marist, St. John’s or UCF.

With seven freshmen and sophomores in the Huskers' current 10-man rotation, it is not surprising that most of the scoring and minutes have come from the underclassmen. Through the first six games, 68 percent of NU's minutes and 65 percent of the Huskers' points have come from the freshmen and sophomore classes.


Pct. of Minutes

Pct. of Points













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 week fifth in the Big Ten in scoring at 18.5 points per game and also chipping in 5.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

 Webster is one of only 18 Division I players to average at least 18.0 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 80 percent from the line. Among power conference programs, he is one of nine players to reach that plateau.

  • He is the only Husker to score double figures in each of NU's six contests in 2016-17 and has been in double figures in eight of his last nine games dating back to the 2016 Big Ten Tournament (the other game was a nine-point effort in the win over Wisconsin).
  • Webster is only 38 points away from cracking Nebraska's top 50 scoring list and is four steals away from 100 for his 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 a career-high seven assists vs. No. 14 UCLA and had 23 points and eight rebounds against Virginia Tech.
  • Webster now has three 20-point games this season after reaching that mark twice in his first three seasons, as he also had 23 against Louisiana Tech on Nov. 19 and 20 in the season opener against Sacramento State on Nov. 13. In the win over Louisiana Tech, Webster led NU in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals.
  • Prior to this season, Webster has never scored more than 13 points in any career home game, as his top-10 scoring efforts had been away from home.

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.

Senior guard Tai Webster spent the summer helping New Zealand qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. In the FIBA Qualifying Tournament in Manila, he averaged 16.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, ranking in the top six in all three categories. Webster also had a pair of double-doubles, matching current New York Knicks forward Maurice Ndour for the most in the tournament. Webster spent all of June and the first week of July with the New Zealand program, as the team trained in Japan, China, Latvia and Lithuania. In addition, he served as a counselor at the adidas Nations Camp in Los Angeles.

Glynn Watson Jr. has continued his emergence as one of the best young guards in the Big Ten. The 6-foot sophomore enters the Clemson game averaging 13.3 points, 3.3 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 steals (first), assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7-to-1, fifth) and free throw percentage (86.7, 10th).
  • Has already posted a trio of 20-point games after not score more than 17 points in any game as a freshman.
  • He played well at the Wooden Legacy, averaging 16.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 3.0 assists per game.
  • Established a career high with 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 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.

Nebraska will look to continue the offensive improvement the Huskers enjoyed in 2015-16. Last year, the Huskers improved their season scoring average by 11.2 points per game and finished seventh in the Big Ten in scoring offense.
Despite graduating its top two scorers from last year, the Huskers are 70.3 points per game entering Wednesday's game at Clemson.

  • For the Husker offense, 70 points has been a magic number in recent years, as Nebraska is 39-9 (.813) in Miles' four-plus seasons at NU, including 3-1 this season.
  • The Huskers are now 17-2 under Miles when scoring at least 80 points following last Thursday's 80-78 win over Dayton. Last year, NU cracked the 80-point mark on nine occasions.
  • In 2015-16, Nebraska averaged 72.2 points per game, the highest total since the 1996-97 team averaged 72.9 points per game. It marked the first time since 2003-04 that Nebraska averaged over 70 points per game.
  • Nebraska’s scoring average in 2015-16 was 11.7 points higher than the previous season, the largest single-season jump since WWII. It is the first time that NU’s scoring average jumped more than 10 ppg from the previous season.

Sophomore Jack McVeigh has been one of the biggest surprises for the Huskers in the early going. The 6-foot-8 sophomore from Cabarita Beach, Australia, has become a consistent scorer, averaging 9.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He is 12th in the Big Ten in 3-pointers per game (2.0/gm).

  • He posted his first career 20-point effort in Nebraska's win over Louisiana Tech on Nov. 19, scoring 16 of his 21 points in the second half against the Bulldogs. He went 6-of-11 from the field, including four 3-pointers, and added five rebounds and a pair of steals.
  • McVeigh spent most of the offseason getting quicker to handle defenders on the wing. The impact has also played a role in his improved rebounding, as he has grabbed five or more rebounds three times, including a season-high seven boards against Sacramento State.

McVeigh, who averaged 4.8 points per game as a freshmen, showed glimpses of his ability when he went into the starting lineup after Shavon Shields missed four games with a concussion last February. McVeigh averaged 11.0 points per game and shot 48 percent from 3-point range during those four contests.

  • McVeigh attended the Australian Institute of Sport, a program which has produced numerous NBA players, as well as former Husker Olympian Aleks Maric.

One of the biggest gains the Huskers look to make this season is on the interior, where sophomores Michael Jacobson and Ed Morrow Jr. both return after playing extensively last season while NU added Jordy Tshimanga in the offseason.

Morrow, who is healthy after being hampered by foot problems for most of 2015-16, is up to 234 pounds, which is 20 pounds heavier than when he arrived on campus. Last year, he averaged 4.1 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. Morrow shot 64 percent from the field and was second on the team in both offensive rebounds (46) and blocked shots (21) despite playing less than 14 minutes per game.

This season, Morrow is starting at forward and averaging 11.3 points on 62 percent shooting and 7.0 rebounds per game.

  • Collected his first career double-double against Dayton, scoring 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting and grabbing a career-high 10 rebounds in the 80-78 win.
  • Has shot 50 percent or better in his last 12 games dating back to March 1, 2016, and has not shot below 50 percent since an 0-1 effort at Purdue on Jan. 30, 2016. He is shooting 65 percent from the field since then.
  • 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.
  • Opened the season with a career-high 13 points and six rebounds against Sacramento State on Nov. 13.

Jacobson started at center for the Huskers' final 25 games becoming the first Husker freshman to start every conference game since Cookie Belcher in 1996-97. Jacobson, who has grown to 6-9, 239 pounds, averaged 4.7 points and 4.3 rebounds while leading the team in blocked shots (28). He played some of his best basketball down the stretch, averaging 6.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game over his final 12 contests.

Jacobson is averaging just 4.5 points per game while adding 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots per game, ranking eighth in the Big Ten in blocked shots. He scored a season-high 10 points in the win over Mary on Nov. 15, and has grabbed six or more rebounds four times in six contests.

Tshimanga gives the Huskers additional size in the post, as he checks in at 6-foot-11, 275-pounds. As a high school senior, he averaged 18.3 points, 14.1 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game at The MacDuffie School. Tshimanga has caused an impact defensively, averaging 3.5 rebounds per game in just 9.0 minutes per contest. He had season bests in both points (eight) and rebounds (eight) in the win over Mary on Nov. 15 and had four points and six caroms against No. 14 UCLA on Nov. 25.

One Husker who looks to break out of a scoring slump is junior Anton Gill. The 6-foot-3 guard missed nearly two months of preseason training because of a knee injury before returning to practice in late October.
Gill has come off the bench in all six games for the Huskers, averaging 3.7 points and 2.3 rebounds per game

  • He broke out of an early-season slump against Dayton, scoring 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field.
  • Gill capped this three-game effort at the Wooden Legacy by scoring six points and grabbing a pair of rebounds in 16 minutes.

Gill, who began his collegiate career at Louisville, will look to continue the trend of transfers who enjoyed success under Tim Miles.

  • Gill spent two seasons at Louisville, playing in 55 games for the Cardinals. Gill had a pair of double-figure efforts as a sophomore, including a 14-point effort against Florida State.
  • Gill's biggest moment came in the 2015 Sweet 16 win over NC State where he had seven points and a pair of steals in the final six minutes, including the go-ahead basket with 5:55 left.
  • He was a top-50 recruit who was rated No. 48 in the class of 2013 after averaging 28.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists at Hargrave Military Academy where he teamed with current Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier.

Over the years, Nebraska coach Tim Miles has not been afraid to throw freshmen into the fire, and this year is no different as Jordy Tshimanga, Jeriah Horne and Isaiah Roby have all garnered extensive playing time during non-conference play. All three recruits were ranked by Rivals among the top-150 players in the class of 2016.

Horne has come off the bench and is averaging 2.3 points and 1.7 rebounds per game, including eight points and five rebounds against Mary and four points in eight minutes against Louisiana Tech. A three-time all-state pick, he totaled over 2,000 career points at the Barstow School, including a 39-point, 14-rebound effort last year against Washington signee Michael Porter Jr. in the Missouri Class 3 State title game. Horne was the co-recipient of the DiRenna Award as the top player in the KC area, joining a list which includes Alec Burks and Wayne Simien among others.

Roby was sidelined most of the summer by a stress reaction in his pelvis, as he missed nearly three months of training before returning in late October. The 6-foot-8 wing is averaging 2.7 points and 1.2 rebounds per game and has the length (7-foot-1 wingspan) to be a factor defensively. Roby was an all-state selection after averaging 19.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 3.9 blocks as a senior.

Miles has shown throughout the last four seasons that he is willing to play freshmen extensively.

  • In Tim Miles' four-plus seasons at NU, the Huskers have started at least one freshmen in 67 percent of its games.
  • In 2015-16, the Husker freshmen accounted for 39 percent of NU's minutes and 35 percent of NU's scoring in Big Ten action. In fact, a freshmen led NU in points, rebounds or assists in 10 of the Huskers' final 11 contests.

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