Nebraska MBB: Huskers Host Cincinnati Saturday Night

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Posted By: Sports

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Game #9 Cincinnati
Date: Sat., Dec. 13
Time: 8:06 p.m. (CT)
Arena: Pinnacle Bank Arena
Capacity: 15,000

Nebraska Cornhuskers
2014-15 Record: 5-3, 0-0 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 39-34 (Third year)
Career Record: 322-254 (20th year)

Cincinnati Bearcats
2014-15 Record: 6-1, 0-0 American Athletic
Head coach: Mick Cronin
Record at Cincinnati: 168-108 (Ninth year)
Career Record: 237-132 (12th year)

Broadcast Information
Television: BTN
Announcers: Cory Provus and Shon Morris

Online: BTN2Go and BTN.com

Radio: IMG Husker Sports Radio Network, including KLIN (1400 AM) in Lincoln, KFAB (1110 AM) in Omaha and KRVN (880 AM) in Lexington. Also available online at Huskers.com, on the Huskers App and on TuneIn Radio and the TuneIn Radio App.
Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka
Expert Analysis: Matt Davison

Satellite Radio: Sirius (Ch. 119); XM (Ch.195)

Live Stats: Huskers.com

Probable Starters

Nebraska

2014-15 stats

No.

Name

Pos

Yr.

Ht.

Wt.

G/GS

PPG

RPG

Other

3

Benny Parker

G

Jr.

5-9

172

8/5

6.8

1.7

2.6 apg

5

Terran Petteway

G

Jr.

6-6

215

8/8

20.6

5.5

2.8 apg

31

Shavon Shields

G/F

Jr.

6-7

221

8/8

18.3

7.3

2.3 apg

2

David Rivers

F

Sr.

6-7

200

8/8

6.1

5.3

.545 FG Pct.

35

Walter Pitchford

F

Jr.

6-10

237

8/8

6.4

2.9

0.6 bpg

Cincinnati

2014-15 stats

No.

Name

Pos

Yr.

Ht.

Wt.

G/GS

PPG

RPG

Other

10

Troy Caupain

G

6-4

200

So.

7/7

9.4

3.4

2.7 apg

25

Kevin Johnson

G

6-3

175

So.

7/5

5.4

1.3

7 3-pointers

3

Shaq Thomas

F

6-7

210

Jr.

7/7

5.3

3.7

0.7 spg

11

Gary Clark

F

6-7

233

Fr.

7/7

8.9

8.1

1.7 bpg

2

Octavius Ellis

F

6-10

226

Jr.

7/7

9.7

7.9

2.6 bpg

Huskers Host Cincinnati Saturday Night
Nebraska looks to snap a two-game losing streak on Saturday night, as the Huskers host Cincinnati at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

A limited number of tickets for Saturday’s contest are available, beginning at $7, by visiting Huskers.com, calling the Nebraska Athletic Ticket Office at 800-8-BIG RED or at the Pinnacle Bank Arena box office beginning Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

Tipoff is set for 8:06 p.m. (central) and will be nationally televised on BTN with Cory Provus and Shon Morris on the call. Saturday’s game is also available online at BTN.com and BTN2Go on mobile platforms.

The game will be broadcast across the state of Nebraska on the IMG Husker Sports Radio Network, including KLIN 1400 AM in Lincoln, 1110 KFAB in Omaha and KRVN 880 AM in Lexington with Kent Pavelka calling the action and Matt Davison adding color commentary. The game can be heard for free on Huskers.com and available on the Huskers’ app on iOS or android devices, as well as on TuneIn Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

The Huskers are 5-3 on the season following a 74-73 loss to Incarnate Word on Wednesday. In that game, the Huskers saw a seven-point lead vanish in the final 2:32, as they were outscored 14-6 down the stretch. The Huskers were done in by 14 turnovers which led to 18 Incarnate Word points, including Kyle Hittle’s baseline jumper with 2.7 seconds left.

While Nebraska had three players finish in double figures, including a game-high 19 points and nine rebounds from junior Shavon Shields, the Huskers allowed Incarnate Word to shoot 48 percent from the field, including 57 percent in the second half. Prior to the two-game losing streak, Nebraska was holding opponents to 38 percent shooting, including 28 percent from 3-point range.

Without the services of Moses Abraham, who suffered a broken hand on Tuesday in practice, a pair of freshmen saw some of their most extensive action of the season on Wednesday. Nick Fuller played a career-high 13 minutes and had six points and a pair of assists, while Jake Hammond played six minutes after playing a total of 16 minutes in NU’s first seven contests.

Cincinnati will pose another tough test for the Huskers, as the Bearcats are 6-1 on the season, but have been off for exams since Dec. 2. The Bearcats rank sixth nationally in scoring defense (52.3 ppg) and are 18th in blocked shots (6.1 per game). UC has held five of its first seven opponents to under 60 points.

Numbers 2 Know
60 – Shavon Shields is expected to make his 60th consecutive start on Saturday night. Shields now 47th on Nebraska’s career scoring list with 795 points after scoring 19 on Wednesday.

1998 – The last time a Husker averaged at least 20 points per game (Tyronn Lue). Only six Husker players have averaged at least 20 ppg in a season.

1.9 – Steals per game for Benny Parker this season, as he had a pair of steals on Wednesday. Parker’s 1.9 steals per game is on pace to be the Huskers’ highest total since Cookie Belcher aveaged 3.2 steals per game in 1999.

17 – Nebraska got 17 points from its bench in Wednesday’s loss, including seven from Tai Webster and six from Nick Fuller. NU’s bench totaled just 14 points in the previous two games.

Scouting Cincinnati
Cincinnati comes to Lincoln after its longest break of the season, as the Bearcats have been off since a 78-52 win over Stony Brook on Dec. 2 with final exams. UC is 6-1 on the season with the only loss coming to Ole Miss on Nov. 29. Saturday’s game with the Huskers is UC’s first road game of the year, as the Bearcats are 5-0 at home and went 1-1 at the Emerald Coast Classic.

Cincinnati returned six letterwinners and a pair of starters from a team that won 27 games and tied Louisville for the American Athletic Conference title. One of those starters, senior guard Ge’Lawn Guyn has missed the last five games because of an injury, but could be back for the game with the Huskers. The Bearcats’ strength is on the defensive end of the court where they are holding opponents to 38 percent shooting and are averaging over six blocked shots per game. Only two of UC’s first seven opponents have scored at least 60 points in 2014-15. Cincinnati is balanced offensively with no double figure scorers, but six players averaging at least five points per game. Junior college transfer Octavius Ellis has been a force inside, averaging 9.7 points on 60 percent shooting, 7.9 blocks and 2.6 blocks per game while sophomore guard Troy Caupain averages 9.4 points and leads UC with 19 assists.

Cincinnati is coached by Mick Cronin, who is in his ninth year at the school after serving as head coach at Murray State. The Bearcats have made the last four NCAA Tournaments, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2012. The Bearcats lead the all-time series, 4-0, but Saturday’s game is the first between the schools in Lincoln.

Series History
Cincinnati leads the all-time series, 4-0, but the first time the two teams have played in Lincoln. Saturday’s game completes a home-and-home series, as the Bearcats posted a 74-59 win last season. In that game, Terran Petteway led NU with 22 points, but All-American Sean Kilpatrick had 21 points, including 17-of-18 from the foul line, while Justin Jackson added 15 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Prior to last season, the most recent contest was during the 1996-97 season, when the Huskers lost to the sixth-ranked Bearcats in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Holiday Classic. The other two games both took place at Cincinnati, with those matchups coming in the 1948-49 and 1960-61 campaigns. Nebraska is 10-16 all-time against the schools in the American Athletic Conference. The two-game home-and-home basketball series was announced as part of multi-sport agreement, as the teams will also meet in football during the 2020 (Lincoln) and 2025 (Cincinnati) seasons.

Last Time Out
Kyle Hittle’s baseline jumper with 2.7 seconds capped a furious rally, as Incarnate Word shocked Nebraska, 74-73, at Pinnacle Bank Arena Wednesday evening.

The Huskers led 71-66 with 33 seconds left, but could not close the Cardinals out, as two costly turnovers in the final 30 seconds helped the Cardinals pull the upset win. Nebraska led 73-72 and had the ball with 6.7 seconds left, but a turnover on the inbounds pass gave Incarnate Word a final chance under the Husker basket. Hittle, who finished with 18 points on 5-of-7 shooting, got the inbounds pass and hit a tough turnaround baseline jumper to take the lead. Nebraska had one final chance for the win, but Terran Petteway’s 3-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark.

Shavon Shields led NU with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Petteway finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Jontrell Walker led five UIW players in double figures with 19 points, as the Cardinals shot 48 percent on the night, including 58 percent in the second half, to erase a 10-point second-half deficit.

Notes from the Incarnate Word Game

  • Nebraska fell to 19-3 all-time at Pinnacle Bank Arena and suffered just its second non-conference loss in the building.
  • The setback to Incarnate Word marked the first time that Nebraska had lost consecutive home non-conference games since the 2004-05 season.
  • Nebraska lost for just the second time under Tim Miles when leading with 5:00 left. Entering the game, NU was 36-1 when leading with 5:00 left, including 27-0 at home.
  • Terran Petteway has been in double figures in each of the last 19 games and finished with 18 points. His five assists was the second-highest total of his career, while his three steals matched a career high.
  • Incarnate Word shot 48.1 percent, which was a season high against the Huskers in 2014-15.
  • Nebraska put three players in double figures for the fourth time this season.
  • Redshirt freshman Nick Fuller set a career high with six points, as he scored the first six points of his career in a season-high 13 minutes.
  • Benny Parker matched his season high with four assists and had two steals, marking the fifth time in eight games he has had multiple steals in a game.
  • Despite losing Moses Abraham to a broken hand on Tuesday, the Huskers enjoyed a +10 advantage on the glass in the loss.

Parker to Be Honored as Whitehead Memorial Scholarship Winner
Nebraska junior guard Benny Parker will be honored in pregame ceremonies Saturday, as the second 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.

Parker has been a key contributor for the Huskers, as he averages 6.8 points, 2.6 assists 1.9 steals and 1.8 rebounds per game this season. He is a business administration major at Nebraska.

Petteway and Shields Carry Husker Attack
Nebraska features two of the Big Ten’s most dynamic wing players in juniors Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields. Although we are just eight games into the season, the pair has been a prolific scoring duo, combining for 39.1 points per game and ranking among the Big Ten’s top four scorers. In Nebraska’s 119-year history, only five duos have combined to average more than 36 points per game.

Defense Keys Husker Turnaround
Nebraska’s turnaround last year was keyed by an emphasis on the defensive end of the court and that has continued during the early portion of the 2014-15 season.

The Huskers entered Big Ten play last in field goal defense and eighth in scoring defense, but dramatically improved during conference action. Over the final 16 games of the 2013-14 season, NU held 10 opponents below 40 percent shooting from the field, including eight straight foes in one stretch. The eight consecutive foes under 40 percent was the longest streak by a Husker defense in at least four decades. The Huskers finished Big Ten play second in conference games in field goal percentage (.415) and third in scoring defense (63.4).

In 2014-15, the Huskers got off to a strong start, holding their first six opponents to 38 percent shooting from the floor, but Creighton and Incarnate Word have combined to shoot 47 percent in the last two games. NU has dropped from 21st to 42nd nationally in defensive efficiency heading into Saturday’s game.

  • Nebraska is 24-6 over the past three seasons when holding opponents to under 40 percent shooting.
  • Nebraska held its first six opponents to under a point per possession, but Creighton and Incarnate Word both averaged over a point per possession.
  • Nebraska has been stout at home over the last two seasons, as only five teams have shot over 45 percent against the Huskers, while 11 of 22 opponents have been held to under 40 percent shooting.

Sharing is Caring

Nebraska has done a better job of ball movement since switching its lineup five games ago and moving Benny Parker to the starting point guard spot. In that stretch, Nebraska is averaging 13.3 assists per game, up from 10.7 assists per game in the first three contests. Parker has averaged 2.8 assists per game since moving into the lineup and is one of three Huskers who is averaging at least two assists per game for Nebaska during that stretch.

Petteway Leads Husker Returnees
Junior wing Terran Petteway comes into 2014-15 as one of the nation’s premier players. The 6-foot-6 junior wing is a candidate for every major award and was chosen as second-team preseason All-American by The Sporting News and CBSSports.com.

As a sophomore, he led the Big Ten in scoring at 18.1 points per game while adding 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists per contest, while starting all 32 contests. Not only did he lead the Huskers in scoring, but also was second on the team in rebounding and third in assists.
Early on, Petteway has been a force for the Huskers, ranking second in the Big Ten in scoring at 20.6 points per game, while also adding 5.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. In addition to his scoring average, Petteway is eighth in the Big Ten in 3-pointers per game (2.5 per game) and 13th in blocked shots (1.3 per game).

He opened the season with the best long-distance shooting of his career, hitting 6-of-9 from 3-point range on his way to scoring a game-high 25 points against Northern Kentucky on Nov. 15. He followed up with a 23-point effort against Central Arkansas and collected his third career double double with 20 points and a career-high 12 rebounds against Omaha. Petteway had 18 points and dished out a career-high eight assists against Tennessee-Martin before scoring a game-high 25 points at Florida State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Petteway had 21 points in Sunday’s loss to Creighton and totaled 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists against Incarnate Word.

  • Petteway is one of only four players in the country averaging at least 20 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game in 2014-15.
  • Petteway has been in double figures in 19 consecutive games dating back to last year and 38 of 40 career games at Nebraska. That streak is the longest streak for a Husker since Venson Hamilton had 24 straight games in double figures during the 1998-99 season.
  • He has five 20-point games in 2014-15, including a season-high 25 points against both Northern Kentucky and at Florida State, and now has 17 career games at NU with 20 or more points.
  • With 744 points over the last two years at Nebraska, his career scoring average of 18.6 points per game is second only to Dave Hoppen (19.5 ppg)
  • Petteway looks to become the first player since Ohio State’s Evan Turner (2009-10) to lead the Big Ten in scoring in consecutive seasons. Over the last 30 years, only three players – Turner, Purdue’s Glenn Robinson (1993-94) and Michigan’s Glen Rice (1988-89) – have accomplished the feat.
  • On Nov. 16, he was chosen for the Wooden Award Men’s Preseason Top 50. Chosen by a preseason poll of national college basketball experts, the list is comprised of 50 student-athletes who are the early front-runners for the sport’s most prestigious honor. Petteway is the first Husker on the list since Aleks Maric in the 2007-08 season. He is also a candidate for the Naismith Trophy and on the Oscar Robertson and Lute Olson Player of the Year watch lists.

Nebraska has had eight All-Americans in program history, most recently Carl McPipe during the 1977-78 season.

Last season, Petteway became the first player to earn unanimous first-team all-conference honors since Venson Hamilton in 1999, and also earned first-team all-district honors by the NABC (coaches) and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (writers). Petteway finished Big Ten play as the conference scoring leader, averaging 18.6 points per game. He became the fifth Husker in the last century to lead a conference in scoring in conference games and first since former Big Eight Player of the Year Andre Smith in 1980-81. He also led the conference at 18.1 points per game in all games and became the first Husker since 1950 (first year the Big Seven Conference kept records) to ever lead the league in scoring for all games.

Shields Keys Husker Attack
While Petteway was one of the best players in the Big Ten last season, Shavon Shields may be one of the most underrated players in the Big Ten. The 6-foot-7 wing started all 32 games and averaged 12.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game to earn honorable-mention All-Big Ten honors from the coaches and media. As a sophomore, Shields was second on the team in scoring and led Nebraska in rebounding.

This season, Shields has continued his emergence, averaging 18.3 points on 56 percent shooting and 7.3 rebounds per game heading into Saturday’s game with Cincinnati. He is fourth in the Big Ten in scoring, fifth in rebounding, seventh in free throw percentage (.860) and 10th in field goal percentage (.558). He is one of three players in the top 10 in both scoring and rebounding and the only Big Ten play in the top five of both categories.

Shields has scored 20 or more points three times this season, including a career-high 35 points against Omaha on Nov. 22. He also had 25 points and nine rebounds at Rhode Island and 21 points and eight boards at Florida State. Shields nearly had another 20-point effort against Incarnate Word, finishing with 19 points and nine rebounds.

  • Over his last 13 games dating back to last year, Shields is averaging 18.0 points per game on 53 percent shooting along with 6.8 rebounds per game.
  • His 35-point effort against Omaha on Nov. 22 tied for the most in a Big Ten game this year and ties for 10th in school history. It was his second career 30-point game, as Shields had 33 against Illinois in 2013-14.
  • With his 35-point game against UNO, he became one of only 14 players in school history – including Petteway – with multiple 30-point games in school history.
  • Collected his fourth career double-double against Central Arkansas with 16 points – all in the first half – and 11 rebounds while dishing out four assists.
  • Scored 18 points on just four field goal attempts, hitting all four shots from the floor while going 10-of-10 from the charity stripe. It was the third time in his career he has gone 10-of-10 or better from the foul line in a game.
  • Shields is one of five players in the country who is averaging at least 18 points and seven rebounds per game while shooting at least 55 percent from the field heading into this weekend’s games.

Pitchford Poses Problems for Opponents
Junior forward Walter Pitchford became one of the focal points to the Huskers’ attack in Big Ten play last season. The 6-foot-10, 237-pounder is one of the toughest matchups in college basketball, as he is a skilled shooter who hit 41 percent from 3-point range. Last season, Pitchford averaged 9.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game while starting 31 games.

An outstanding athlete with a 42-inch vertical leap, Pitchford played some of his best basketball of the season over the Huskers’ second-half surge, averaging 11.0 points per game on 53 percent shooting over the last 14 games. Pitchford reached double figures 11 times in that stretch including a career-high 18-point effort along with five rebounds and a pair of steals in a win at No. 9 Michigan State on Feb. 16.

Pitchford, who was averaging just 3.5 points per game on 21 percent shooting in his first four games, is starting to break out of his early-season struggles. He is averaging 9.3 points per game over NU’s last four games, including 43 percent from 3-point range. The junior set personal bests in both points (19) and 3-pointers (six) against Tennessee-Martin on Nov. 28, and had 10 points in Wedneday’s loss to Incarnate Word.

Old Man Rivers
Senior forward David Rivers has been through a lot during his Nebraska career. The 6-foot-7 forward signed when Nebraska was still a member of the Big 12 Conference back in the fall of 2010, and has quietly developed during the last three seasons under Tim Miles. This season, Rivers is averaging 6.1 points per game on 55 percent shooting and 5.3 rebounds per game, posting career best in all three categories.

Rivers has grabbed at least six rebounds in each of the last four games, including a season-high eight caroms along with nine poitns against Creighton on Dec. 7. He scored a season-high 12 points in the season opener against Northern Kentucky on Nov. 16.

Point Guard by Committee
The Huskers have looked to find the right combination at lead guard early in 2015, as Tai Webster, Benny Parker and Tarin Smith have shared the spot. Currently, Parker and Smith handle most of the work, while Webster has become a scoring combo guard off the bench.

Parker, who has started NU’s last five games is averaging 6.8 points, 2.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game on the season, topping the Huskers in steals and ranking second in assists. Parker, who averaged just 2.6 points over his first two years, has scored seven or more points in five of the last seven contests. He matched his career high with nine points against Tennessee-Martin on Nov. 28 and had eight points and three assists against Creighton on Sunday. Parker had six points and four assists without a turnover against Incarnate Word on Wednesday. He also had seven points and tied his career high with four steals in NU’s win at Florida State on Dec. 1.

Smith comes in off the bench and is averages 3.6 points per game while posting a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He made two big plays in the final two minutes at Florida State on Dec. 1, finding David Rivers for a layup after the Seminoles cut the deficit to one and then draining a 3-pointer – just the second of the season – on the following possession to make it a six-point game. He dished out a season-high three assists at Rhode Island on Nov. 22. Smith was a two-year starter at St. Anthony (N.J.) High School, one of the premier high school basketball programs in the country playing for Hall of Fame Coach Bob Hurley. As a senior, he was a first-team all-state pick by the AP and a third-team honoree by the Newark Star-Ledger, as he averaged 15 points, four rebounds and four assists per game, as St. Anthony finished with a 25-5 record and a state runner-up finish.

Webster, who is the first guard off the bench, has seen his scoring average jump from 3.9 points to 6.3 points per game, while chipping in 2.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.9 steals per game. He has been in double figures twice this season, including a season-high 13 points and four steals against Central Arkansas on Nov. 18, and 10 points against Omaha on Nov. 25.

Huskers Look for Healthy Post Players
The Huskers have battled in the injury bug at the post positions, as Leslee Smith suffered a knee injury over the summer is expected out until Big Ten play in January, while Moses Abraham is out until late December with a broken metacarpal suffered in practice on Dec. 9.

  • Abraham, who played in NU’s first eight contests, was the Huskers first post player off the bench. He was averaging 5.4 rebounds and 2.9 points per game, while playing just 15.3 minutes per game. Abraham has grabbed five or more rebounds in seven of NU’s first eight games. His best effort of the season came against Tennessee-Martin on Nov. 28, when he had seven points and five rebounds. Against Omaha, he had seven rebounds and a pair of blocked shots in 17 minutes. He also grabbed seven rebounds and blocked a shot in 15 minutes at Rhode Island.

    Last year, Abraham averaged 1.9 points and 2.8 rebounds per game while ranking second on the team with 23 blocked shots. The 6-foot-9, 252-pound forward earned his degree from Georgetown in May and has one year of eligibility remaining. He is the first graduate transfer the Huskers have added since the rule went into effect.

  • Smith, who suffered a torn ACL in July, was NU’s first forward off the bench last season, averaging 5.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. He led NU with three double-doubles as a junior and had five games with at least 10 rebounds. Smith finished second among all Big Ten reserves in rebounding in 2013-14

In the wake of the injuries, true freshmand Jake Hammond and redshirt freshman Nick Fuller are seeing more action.

  • Hammond is a 6-foot-10, 230-pound forward who averaged 26.2 points, 14.8 rebounds, 5.7 blocks and 3.1 steals per game as a senior at Comanche (Okla.) High School. He was rated as the No. 2 prospect in the state of Oklahoma by both ESPN.com and 247Sports as a senior, and was considered one of the top 150 seniors in the country by Hoop Scoop. Hammond has played in five games, including at Florida State on Dec. 1 when the Huskers were in foul trouble. He played six minutes against Incarnate Word on Wednesday.
  • Fuller saw the most extensive action his career against Incarnate Word on Wednesdsay, totaling six points, two rebounds and two assists in 13 minutes of work. Prior to that the redshirt freshman had seen spot duty in NU’s first seven contests. During his prep career, he totaled 1,940 points at Sun Prairie High School and a finalist for Mr. Basketball in Wisconsin as a senior. He averaged 25.0 points and 11.2 rebounds per game as a senior and was a two-time Madison State Journal Area Player of the Year.