Nebraska MBB: Huskers Host MSU; Retire Tyronn Lue’s Jersey Thursday Night

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Posted By: Sports

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Courtesy: UNL Media Relations

GAME 22: MICHIGAN STATE
Date: Thursday, Feb. 2
Time: 6 p.m.
Arena: Pinnacle Bank Arena
Tickets: Huskers.com/Tickets

NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS
2016-17 Record: 10-11, 4-5 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 73-78 (5th year)
Career Record: 356-298 (22nd year)

MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS
2016-17 Record: 13-9, 5-4 Big Ten
Head coach: Tom Izzo
Record at Michigan State: 537-214 (22nd year)
Career Record: Same

BROADCAST INFO
Television: ESPN
Online: ESPN.com and WatchESPN app
Play-by-play: Rece Davis
Expert Analysis: Fran Fraschilla
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 Davision
Also available online at Huskers.com, on the Huskers App and on TuneIn Radio and the TuneIn Radio App.

Huskers Host MSU; Retire Tyronn Lue’s Jersey Thursday Night
The Husker basketball team looks for its second straight win and honors one of the greatest players in school history on Thursday night, as Nebraska hosts Michigan State at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Tipoff is set for 6 p.m., and a limited number of tickets are available by visiting Huskers.com/Tickets or by calling 800-8-BIGRED. Any remaining tickets will be available at the Pinnacle Bank Arena ticket office beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.

The game between the Huskers and Spartans will be televised nationally on ESPN with Rece Davis and Fran Fraschilla on the call. The game is also available on the ESPN app and on the WatchESPN app for tablets and mobile devices.

Fans can listen to Thursday’s game and all of the action throughout the 2016-17 season on the Husker Sports Network with Kent Pavelka and Matt Davison on the call, including on Huskers.com, the Huskers app and on TuneIn Radio. The broadcast starts 60 minutes before tipoff and a complete list of HSN affiliates is on page 5 of the release.

The Huskers (10-11, 4-5 Big Ten) comes off an 83-80 win over No. 20 Purdue on Sunday. Nebraska’s bench came up big against the Boilermakers, as Jack McVeigh tied his career high with 21 points, including four 3-pointers, while Jeriah Horne added 16 points and seven boards in 24 minutes. The Huskers withstood 14 3-pointers by Purdue, but forced 13 turnovers and held the Boilermakers to 44 percent shooting.

Thursday’s game also marks a homecoming for one of the greatest players in school history, as Tyronn Lue will become the fourth Husker to have his jersey retired during halftime ceremonies. As a player, Lue guided the Huskers to three straight postseason appearances and was a first-round pick in the 1998 NBA Draft. After spending 11 years in the NBA, Lue moved into the coaching ranks and guided the Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2016 NBA title. He will join Stu Lantz, Dave Hoppen and Eric Piatkowski as the four Huskers with their jersey hanging inside Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Michigan State (13-9, 5-4) comes into Lincoln in fifth place in the standings following a 70-62 win over Michigan on Sunday. The Spartans were led by its freshman, as Cassius Winston had 16 points, while Miles Bridges and Nick Ward had 15 and 13 points, respectively. Bridges has been one of the best freshmen in the Big Ten and leads MSU in scoring (16.3 ppg) and rebounding (8.5 rpg).

NUMBERS TO KNOW
.667
– Nebraska is 6-3 this season in games decided by five points or less, and both of Nebraska’s last two games vs. Michigan State have been decided by two points or less (1 last year; 2 in 2014-15).

1.9 – Glynn Watson Jr. is averaging 1.9 steals per game, which is on pace to be the most since Cookie Belcher averaged 2.7 steals per game in 2000-01.

10.8 – Jack McVeigh’s scoring average over NU’s last five games. McVeigh tied or set career bests in both points (vs. Purdue) and rebounds (at Northwestern last week).

21 – Tai Webster has reached double figures in all 21 games this season and is the only Big Ten player to score double figures in every game this season.

21 – Jack McVeigh’s 21 points off the bench vs. Purdue were the most by a Husker reserve since Tai Webster had 22 points at Iowa on Jan. 5, 2016.

31 – Tai Webster is 31 points away from being the 28th 1,000-point scorer in school history. Webster’s career high is 28 at Michigan on Jan. 14.

SCOUTING MICHIGAN STATE
Under Hall of Fame Coach Tom Izzo, the Spartans have been one of the flagship programs in the Big Ten. The Spartans have made seven Final Fours in the last 18 seasons and made 19 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Izzo, who is in his 22nd year at MSU, has one of his youngest teams in his tenure. The Spartans, who have a pair of wins over Minnesota and a win over Northwestern, snapped a three-game losing streak with a 70-62 victory over Michigan on Sunday. Michigan State averages 72.1 points per game and is shooting 48 percent from the field while holding opponents to just 40 percent shooting.

The Spartans are relying on youth, as four of the team’s top five scorers are freshman. Miles Bridges leads MSU in scoring (16.3 ppg) and rebounding (8.5 rpg) and is reigning Big Ten freshman of the week after averaging 24.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 2.0 steals per game last week. Nick Ward has been a force on the inside for MSU, averaging 13.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Eron Harris is the third Spartan in double figures, as the senior is at 12.0 ppg and leads MSU with 40 3-pointers.

SERIES HISTORY
Michigan State leads the all-time series, 12-9, in a rivalry that dates back to February of 1920. Michigan State won the first four meetings in the series after NU joined the Big Ten in 2011-12, but the Huskers have won the last three meetings.

  • Thursday’s meeting is just the second time in the last 12 matchups where NU has faced an unranked MSU team. The other was in the last meeting in Lincoln two years ago when Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields combined for 53 points in a 79-77 Husker win. That MSU team eventually reached the Final Four.
  • Nebraska won the first two meetings on consecutive days, posting a 43-26 win on Feb. 13, 1920, and a 39-20 win the following day.
  • The teams played six times between 1988 and 1994, splitting the six contests. Nebraska’s three wins in the span came by a total of 11 points.
  • Nebraska’s 2014 win in East Lansing was its first top-10 road win since the 1997 season.

LAST MEETING VS. MICHIGAN STATE
Shavon Shields matched his season high with 28 points, including 19 in the second half, as Nebraska won 72-71 over No. 11 Michigan State. Shields went 12-of-20 from the field to lead three Huskers in double figures. Glynn Watson Jr. added 13 points while Tai Webster finished with 10 points and seven rebounds for Nebraska. Trailing 56-51, Nebraska took control with a 13-0 run keyed by a pair of 3-pointers from Jack McVeigh, who had eight points and six rebounds off the bench. Shields, who also had six points in the run, closed the run with a 3-point play, giving Nebraska a 64-56 lead with 8:34 left. The Huskers held MSU to 42 percent shooting, but the Spartans stayed in the game by hitting 11 of 18 from 3-point range, including 6-of-7 in the second half.

LAST TIME OUT
Behind a career-high 21-point effort from Jack McVeigh, Nebraska knocked off No. 20 Purdue, 83-80, Sunday afternoon.

McVeigh paced four Huskers in double figures, matching his career high with 21 points, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. McVeigh was one of two Husker reserves with big afternoons, as freshman Jeriah Horne had 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting and a career-high seven rebounds in 24 minutes. The duo helped NU total a season-high 39 points from its bench.

The Husker backcourt of Tai Webster and Glynn Watson Jr. rounded out the quartet in double figures, as Webster had 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists while Watson totaled 12 points.

The Huskers got contributions up and down the lineup as the Huskers overcome a nine-point deficit in the first 10 minutes and later rallied from five points down in the final 2:24 to snap a five-game losing streak. Michael Jacobson’s putback with 41 seconds left gave the Huskers the lead for good.

LUE TO HAVE JERSEY RETIRED ON THURSDAY
Former Nebraska standout Tyronn Lue will become the fourth Husker to have his jersey retired, as he will receive the honor on Thursday night during halftime ceremonies.

Lue guided the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA title in 2016, his first season as head coach of the franchise. One of 14 players in NBA history to win titles as a player and head coach, Lue won two NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers as a player (2000 and 2001). After a distinguished career at Nebraska, he was a first-round draft pick in 1998 and played 11 seasons in the NBA with seven franchises.

Lue at Nebraska

  • First-team All-Big 12 as a junior (21.2 ppg; 4.8 apg; 4.3 rpg) as NU reached the 1998 NCAA Tournament
  • Ninth on NU’s career scoring list (1,577 career points) and career scoring average (15.9 ppg)
  • Fourth on NU’s career assists list (438) and seventh on NU’s career steals list (154)
  • 2013 Nebraska Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee

WORTH NOTING

  • Eight of the Huskers’ nine Big Ten games have been decided by eight points or less, including six games by four points or less. In the only game that wasn’t decided by eight points, Nebraska trailed 57-53 with under 5:00 remaining.
  • Nebraska has played one of, if not the toughest schedules in the country by many metrics (No. 1 in RPI and Sagarin and No. 3 by KenPom and ESPN BPI). Thursday’s game against Michigan State will be Nebraska’s 11th game against a team in the top-50 of the RPI, a total which leads the nation.
  • Tai Webster comes into Thursday’s game with 969 career points to rank 30th on NU’s career scoring list. Webster could pass Beau Reid (970) and Mikki Moore (986) on Thursday and needs 31 points to reach 1,000 points for his career.
  • Nebraska and Wisconsin are the only Big Ten teams with two scorers among the top-10 league scorers. For Nebraska, senior Tai Webster is third at 18.1 ppg, while sophomore Glynn Watson Jr. is eighth at 14.5 ppg.
  • Webster has reached double figures in 22 straight games dating back to last year. Over the last two decades, the only Huskers with longer double-figure streaks are Tyronn Lue (36, 1996-97 and 1997-98), Terran Petteway (30, 2013-14 and 2014-15) and Venson Hamilton (24, 1998-99).
  • The Huskers could be without Ed Morrow Jr. for the sixth straight game because of a right foot injury. Morrow is third on the team in scoring (10.1) while leading the Huskers in rebounding (7.9 rpg) and blocked shots (1.5 bpg). In addition, the Huskers are also without reserve guard Anton Gill, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on Dec. 25.
  • The nine-point deficit NU overcame on Sunday was the third time in Big Ten play the Huskers have come back from trailing by at least seven points (7 at Indiana; 13 at Maryland; 9 vs. Purdue).
    The Jan. 1 comeback over Maryland marked the fifth time that Nebraska has overcome a double-digit deficit under Tim Miles, but the first one on the road. The 13-point deficit NU overcame was its largest away from home since overcoming a 13-point deficit at Texas Tech in a 61-59 win on Feb. 6, 2007. That is the only other time in the last 15 years NU has overcome a double-digit deficit on the road.
  • This year was already the first time since the 1975-76 season that the Huskers have won three straight to open conference play and just the seventh time since the end of World War II that NU has gotten off to a 3-0 start or better in the league.

YOUTH IS SERVED
With seven freshmen and sophomores in the Huskers’ nine-man rotation, it is not surprising that most of the scoring and minutes have come from the underclassmen this season. Entering Thursday’s game with Michigan State, 66 percent of NU’s minutes and 65 percent of NU’s points have come from the freshmen and sophomore classes. In Big Ten play, the Husker freshman have taken on an increased burden, managing 21 percent of NU’s minutes and 17 percent of the team’s scoring.

TAI’S TAKING OVER
Senior Tai Webster has emerged as one of the Big Ten’s top guards in 2016-17. The Auckland, New Zealand, native comes into the week averaging 18.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game.

  • He is one of five players in Division I currently averaging 17.0 points, 4.75 rebounds and 3.75 assists per game. Among power conferences, he joins Markelle Fultz (Washington) as the only players currently at those plateaus.
  • Webster is among the Big Ten leaders in scoring (third), steals (fifth) and assists (seventh). He is the only Big Ten player in the top-10 in both scoring and assists and one of only three in the top 10 in both steals and assists (Minnesota’s Nate Mason and Maryland’s Anthony Cowan).
  • In Big Ten play, Webster leads the conference in scoring at 19.7 points per game, which is on pace to be the highest scoring average in conference play since Tyronn Lue averaged 21.8 points per game in 1997-98. In over 100 years, only five Huskers have led the league in scoring during conference action.
  • Webster is making a strong bid to join an elite club of Big Ten players. Since 1993-94, only eight Big Ten players have finished the season averaging 17.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game, a list which includes D’Angelo Russell, Michael Finley, Evan Turner and Damon Bailey among others.
  • Webster has been exceptional against the Huskers best foes, as he is averaging 19.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game in NU’s five games against ranked opponents (Kansas, UCLA, Creighton, Indiana and Purdue) this season. Against Purdue on Sunday, he had 15 points, but led NU in both rebounds (eight) and steals (six).
  • He leads the Huskers with nine 20-point games, highlighted by career bests in both points (28) and rebounds (nine) at Michigan on Jan. 14. Prior to this season, he had just two 20-point games in three seasons.
  • He is the only Husker to score double figures in each of NU’s 21 contests in 2016-17 and has been in double figures in 22 straight games dating back to last season.
  • Webster earned his first-ever Big Ten Player of the Week award on Jan. 2, as he averaged 19.5 points, 3.5 assists, 3.0 steals and 3.0 rebounds per game in helping NU to wins over No. 16 Indiana and Maryland. He keyed NU’s comeback at Maryland with 18 points, including the Huskers’ final seven points, in a 67-65 win.
  • 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 seven assists vs. No. 14 UCLA and had 23 points and eight rebounds against Virginia Tech.

WATSON IS POINT OF IT ALL
Glynn Watson Jr. has continued his emergence as one of the best young guards in the Big Ten. The 6-foot sophomore enters the Michigan State game averaging 14.5 points, 2.8 assists and 1.9 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 Watson 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 scoring (eighth) and steals (third).
  • In Big Ten action, Watson is sixth in the Big Ten in scoring (17.0 ppg) and is also among the Big Ten leaders in steals (1.9 4th), 3-pointers per game (2.6, 4th) and 3-point percentage (.479, 8th). Most of Watson’s numbers have improved since the start of conference action.
  • Reached double figures 15 times this season, including seven 20-point efforts. His most recent 20-point effort came at Michigan on Jan. 14, when he had 20 of his 22 points in the second half.
  • Watson carried the Huskers with a career-high 34-point effort against Iowa on Jan. 5. In that game, Watson went 11-of-18 from the field, including a blistering 7-of-8 shooting from 3-point range. His seven 3-pointers was one off NU’s single-game record, while his .875 percentage was the fourth-highest total in school history.
  • Keyed NU’s win over No. 16 Indiana with 26 points, five steals and four assists, as he had 19 second-half points.
  • Paced NU with 20 points, matched his career high with six rebounds and added four steals and four assists at Clemson.
  • Scored a then-career high 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.
  • Opened the season with a then-career-high 23 points along with six assists and five rebounds in NU’s win over Sacramento State on Nov. 13.
  • Has seven games with at least three steals, including three games where he had a career-high five steals (Dayton, Virginia Tech, Indiana).
  • If Watson can keep up this pace, he can threaten to become just the sixth Husker to average at least two steals per game, joining Cookie Belcher, Erick Strickland, Eric Johnson, Venson Hamilton and Brian Carr.

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).
  • 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.

HUSKERS LOOK FOR OFFENSIVE CONSISTENCY
After the Gardner-Webb game in December, the Huskers have reworked their offensive playbook. Despite having one senior and one junior in the primary rotation, NU has averaged 75.3 points per game over the last 10 games despite injuries to Ed Morrow Jr. and Anton Gill.

  • Nebraska is fifth in scoring offense in conference play at 73.6 points per game while ranking eighth in field goal percentage (.436) and seventh in 3-point percentage (.367).
  • Since the loss to Gardner-Webb on Dec. 18, the Huskers have averaged 74.7 points per game, cracking the 80-point mark in five of the past 10 contests.
  • For the Husker offense, 70 points has been a magic number in recent years, as Nebraska is 44-11 (.800) in Miles’ four-plus seasons at NU, including 8-3 this season.
  • The Huskers are 21-3 under Miles when scoring at least 80 points following Sunday’s 83-80 win over Purdue. NU is 6-1 this season when scoring 80 points and are 14-2 over the last two years when reaching 80 points.
  • 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.

TAKING ON A CHALLENGING SCHEDULE
Nebraska has faced a daunting 2016-17 non-conference schedule. The Huskers are 10-11 on the season and have played the toughest schedule in the country according to the NCAA’s RPI as of Jan. 30.

  • Nebraska’s non-conference schedule ranks fifth nationally as of Jan. 26 and was the hardest in the Big Ten.
  • The Huskers’ Division I opponents are a combined 250-125, as the .667 winning percentage is first nationally.
  • In December, Nebraska completed a week where the Huskers played consecutive top-10 teams in non-conference play for the first time in program history (No. 10 Creighton, No. 3 Kansas).