Nebraska MBB: Huskers Return Home for South Dakota on Saturday

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Posted By: Sports

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Courtesy: UNL Media Relations

GAME 8: SOUTH DAKOTA
Date: Saturday, Dec. 3
Time: 1:05 p.m.
Arena: Pinnacle Bank Arena
Tickets: Huskers.com/Tickets

NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS
2016-17 Record: 4-3
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 67-70 (5th year)
Career Record: 350-290 (22nd year)

SOUTH DAKOTA COYOTES
2016-17 Record: 6-3
Head coach: Craig Smith
Record at South Dakota: 37-37 (3rd year)
Career Record: 109-66 (6th year)

BROADCAST INFO
Television: None
Online: BTN Plus and BTN2GO (subscription required)
Announcers: Parker Cyza and Matt Rigby

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 Huskers.com, on the Huskers App and on TuneIn Radio and the TuneIn Radio App.

Huskers Return Home for South Dakota on Saturday
The Nebraska men’s basketball team returns to Pinnacle Bank Arena for the first time in two weeks on Saturday afternoon, as the Huskers take on South Dakota.

Tipoff between the Huskers and Coyotes is set for 1:05 p.m. and a limited number of tickets are available by visiting Huskers.com/Tickets, calling 1-800-8-BIGRED during business hours or at Pinnacle Bank Arena beginning at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Fans can listen to 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 and the Huskers app. Saturday’s game will also be available online at BTN Plus or on the BTN2GO app. In both instances, a subscription is required.

The Huskers (4-3) returned to Lincoln early Thursday morning after traveling 5,200 miles since Nov. 22. The road trip ended Wednesday with a tough 60-58 loss at Clemson in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Huskers had two shots to take the lead in the last minute and another chance to send the game into overtime at the buzzer, but were unable to capitalize. Nebraska held the Tigers to 37 percent shooting, but Clemson went 17-of-22 from the line and got 14 second-chance points in the second half to earn the victory.

Despite the loss, the Huskers received strong performances from sophomore Glynn Watson Jr., Ed Morrow Jr. and Michael Jacobson. Watson posted his fourth 20-point game of the season with a game-high 20 points and added a career-high six rebounds, four assists and four steals. Morrow picked up his second double-double in the last four games, totaling 10 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, while Jacobson broke out of an early-season slump with 11 points and seven rebounds. The four members of the Huskers’ sophomore class account for 57 percent of Nebraska’s offense through the first seven contests.

Saturday’s game with South Dakota matches Tim Miles against one of his four former assistants coaching in the Division I ranks. Craig Smith spent two years at NU with Miles, culminating with the trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2014. Smith, who also worked with Miles at Mayville State, North Dakota State and Colorado State, is in his third season at South Dakota and brings his Coyotes to town with a 6-3 mark following a two-point loss to UMKC on Wednesday.

NUMBERS TO KNOW
3.6
– Offensive rebounds per game for sophomore Ed Morrow Jr., a total that is tied for the Big Ten lead. Morrow had a career-high 12 rebounds in Wednesday’s loss at Clemson and is averaging 9.0 rebounds per game over NU’s last four contests.

8 – Number of 20-point games by Huskers in 2016-17 (Webster-3; Watson-4; McVeigh-1). Entering this season, the entire returning roster combined for two, both coming from Webster in 2015-16.

19 – According to the KenPom ratings, Nebraska has played the 19th toughest schedule in the country heading into Thursday’s action. Nebraska, Michigan State (fifth) and Florida (30th) are the only three major conferences (Power 5 + Big East, American, and A-10) in the top-30 nationally.

10.5 – Free throws made per game by the Huskers in the last four games. The Huskers averaged 15.3 FTs per game in the first three contests.

12 – Consecutive games that Ed Morrow Jr. shot at least 50 percent dating back to last March before it was snapped with a 4-of-10 effort at Clemson.

62.7 – Nebraska is fourth in the Big Ten in scoring defense, allowing 62.7 points per game.

SCOUTING SOUTH DAKOTA
Former Husker assistant Craig Smith brings South Dakota to town, as the Coyotes are 6-3 on the season following a two-point loss at UMKC on Wednesday. USD, which started 5-0, has a win at Drake as well as victories over Bowling Green, Kent State and Montana during the non-conference slate, while two of its three losses are by eight points or less. The Coyotes have three Division I transfers (Trey Dickerson-Iowa; Carlton Hurst-Colorado State; Matt Mooney-Air Force) in the starting lineup. Mooney leads a balanced attack at 14.2 points per game and has hit a team-best 16 3-pointers, while senior Tyler Flack averages 13.4 points, a team-high 7.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game.

SERIES HISTORY
One of Nebraska’s longest-standing non-conference series, Nebraska leads the all-time series, 30-6, as the teams first met in 1911, but just twice since the Coyotes moved up to the Division I level in 2008. The teams have not met since a 65-48 Husker win on Nov. 11, 2011, at the Devaney Center. In that game, Caleb Walker had 16 points and seven rebounds to pace four Huskers in double figures. NU held USD to 30.9 percent shooting and forced 15 Coyote turnovers in the 2011-12 season opener. Nebraska has won the last 17 meetings, but the teams have played just four times over the last 40 years. Nebraska is 64-8 (.889) all-time against current Summit League members.

YOUTH IS SERVED
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 seven games, 68 percent of NU’s minutes and 67 percent of the Huskers’ points have come from the freshmen and sophomore classes.

CLOSE CALLS
In all three of its losses, the Huskers have been in the game until the final two minutes. Against both UCLA and Virginia Tech, NU was within six points in the final two minutes, while NU had two shots to win and another shot to tie at the end of regulation. Nebraska is 7-4 under Miles in games decided by two points or less and 18-15 in games by five points or less.

THIEVERY IS ELEMENTARY FOR WATSON
Sophomore guard Glynn Watson has been a defensive terror as of late. Over the last four games, he has averaged 3.5 steals per game following a four-steal effort Wednesday against Clemson.

  • He leads the Big Ten in steals at 2.6 per game and is the only Big Ten player averaging at least two steals per game. Watson is also 21st nationally in steals.
  • Watson has two of the three highest single-game totals in the Big Ten this year, as he had five against Dayton (Nov. 24) and Virginia Tech (Nov. 27).
  • Watson is one of 13 players nationally and one of three from power conferences averaging 14 points and 2.5 steals per game, joining Oklahoma’s Jordan Woodward and Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans.
  • If Watson can keep up this pace, he can become only the sixth Husker to average at least two steals per game, joining Cookie Belcher, Erick Strickland, Eric Johnson, Venson Hamilton, Brian Carr.

TAI’S TAKING OVER
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 weekend sixth in the Big Ten in scoring at 17.6 points per game and also chipping in 5.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game.

  • Webster is the only Big Ten player – and one of 28 players nationally averaging at least 15 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game.
  • Webster is only 26 points away from cracking Nebraska’s top 50 scoring list and is two steals away from 100 for his career.
  • He is the only Husker to score double figures in each of NU’s seven contests in 2016-17 and has been in double figures in nine of his last 10 games dating back to the 2016 Big Ten Tournament (the other game was a nine-point effort in the win over Wisconsin).
  • 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.

TRAVELS WITH TAI: SUMMER EDITION
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.

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 South Dakota game averaging 14.3 points, 3.3 assists and a Big Ten-best 2.6 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 scoring (14th), steals (first) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.0-to-1, 11th).
  • Has already posted four 20-point games in NU’s first seven contests after not scoring more than 17 points in any game as a freshman.
  • Led NU with 20 points, matched his career high with six rebounds and added four steals and four assists at Clemson.
  • 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.

HUSKERS LOOK TO CONTINUE OFFENSIVE IMPROVEMENTS
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 at 68.6 points per game entering Saturday’s game with South Dakota.

  • 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 the 80-78 win over Dayton on Nov. 24. 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.
 

RETURNING TO DEFENSIVE ROOTS
Some of the biggest strides Nebraska has made have come on the defensive side of the ball in 2016-17. Nebraska allowed 69.0 points per game last year, but enters Saturday’s game ranked fourth in the Big Ten at 62.0 points per game.

  • The Huskers have been tested against some of the nation’s most efficient offenses during the first month of the season, as four opponents: UCLA (sixth); Virginia Tech (13th); Clemson (27th) and Dayton (39th) are among the top-40 offenses in the country according to KenPMom.
  • Nebraska has held two teams (Louisiana Tech and Clemson) to season lows, while two other teams (UCLA and Virginia Tech) were limited to their second-lowest totals entering the weekend.
  • Nebraska has held four of their seven opponents to under 40 percent shooting as only one team has shot over 45 percent this season.
  • Under Miles, NU is 41-14 over the past four-plus seasons when holding opponents to under 40 percent shooting.

HUSKERS LOOK TO RELY ON INSIDE GAME
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 58 percent shooting and 7.7 rebounds per game.

  • Earned his second career double-double at Clemson on Nov. 30, grabbing a career-high 12 rebounds and adding 10 points and a season-high three blocked shots.
  • 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.
  • 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 5.4 points per game while adding 5.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots per game, ranking ninth in the Big Ten in blocked shots. He comes off his best performance of the season, setting 2016-17 highs in both points (11) and rebounds (seven) in the game at Clemson on Nov. 30. He has grabbed six more more rebounds five times in seven games and has five games with multiple blocked shots.

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 3.4 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. Tshimanga had three points and three rebounds at Clemson.