Nebraska MBB: Huskers Travel to Michigan on Saturday

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Posted By: Sports

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Courtesy: UNL Media Relations

GAME 17: AT MICHIGAN
Date: Saturday, Jan. 14
Time: 1 p.m. (CT)
Arena: Crisler Center
Location: Ann Arbor, Mich.

NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS
2016-17 Record: 9-7, 3-1 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 72-74 (5th year)
Career Record: 355-294 (22nd year)

MICHIGAN WOLVERINES
2016-17 Record: 11-6, 1-3 Big Ten
Head coach: John Beilein
Record at Michigan: 200-129 (10th year)
Career Record: 751-447 (39th year)

BROADCAST INFO
Television: BTN
Online: BTN2Go and on BTN.com
Play-by-play: Wayne Randazzo
Expert Analysis: Stephen Bardo

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 Travel to Michigan on Saturday
The Nebraska men’s basketball team looks to remain perfect on the road in the Big Ten, as the Huskers travel to Michigan Saturday afternoon. Tipoff at Crisler Center is set for 1 p.m. (CT) and the game between the Huskers and Wolverines will be carried nationally on BTN with Wayne Randazzo and Stephen Bardo on the call. The game will also be available online on both BTN2Go and BTN.com.
 

Fans can listen to Saturday’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 and the Huskers app. The broadcast starts 60 minutes before tipoff and a complete list of HSN affiliates is on page 5 of the release.
 

The Huskers (9-7, 3-1 Big Ten) have been off since a 74-66 loss to Northwestern last Sunday. Tai Webster’s 17 points and six rebounds led three Huskers in double figures, but Northwestern shot 51 percent from the field, including 11-of-24 from 3-point range, to snap the Huskers’ four-game win streak.
 

Sophomore forward Michael Jacobson continued his strong early play in Big Ten season, as he recorded his second double-double of the year with 12 points and 10 boards in Sunday’s loss. Jacobson, who is averaging 8.3 points and a team-best 10.3 rebounds per game in conference action, will be counted on more with the injury to Ed Morrow Jr., as Morrow will miss Saturday’s game because of a foot injury.
 

While the Husker frontcourt will be short-handed, Nebraska will rely on its backcourt, as both Tai Webster (17.7 ppg) and Glynn Watson Jr. (14.6 ppg) are both among the Big Ten scoring leaders entering this weekend’s games. Webster has been in double figures in all 16 games for Nebraska, while Watson has six 20-point games, including a career-high 34 point effort against Iowa on Jan. 5.
 

If the Huskers can earn their first-ever win in Ann Arbor, it would mark the first time since 1975-76 that NU won its first three conference road games.
Michigan (11-6, 1-3 Big Ten) looks to snap a two-game losing streak and is coming off an 85-69 loss at Illinois on Wednesday. In that game, Michigan shot 53 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range, but ran into an Illinois squad which shot 64 percent and put six players into double figures.

NUMBERS TO KNOW
.833 – The Huskers are 5-1 in games decided by five points or less this season. The only loss came at Clemson when the Huskers had two shots to win or tie in the final minute.

2 – Nebraska has won its first three conference road games twice since joining the Big Six Conference back in 1928-29. The Huskers won their first four conference road games in 1975-76 and also in 1965-66.

8 – Nebraska is 8-2 when hitting at least six 3-pointers and 1-5 when being held to five 3-pointers or less. The only losses came to now-No. 4 UCLA and Northwestern.

10.3 – Rebounds per game in Big Ten play for Michael Jacobson. He has had 9 or more caroms in each of NU’s four conference games and is third in Big Ten games only.

11.0 – Nebraska’s steals per game in Big Ten play which leads the conference. NU is the only Big Ten team averaging 10+ steals per game in Big Ten play.

17 – Consecutive games in double figures for Tai Webster, dating back to last year’s Big Ten Tournament. Prior to this season, his longest streak was four games.

78.3 – Nebraska is second in Big Ten games in scoring offense in B1G play at 78.3 points per game.

SCOUTING MICHIGAN
Under Coach John Beilein, Michigan comes into Saturday’s game with an 11-6 record, including a 1-3 Big Ten mark. Michigan went 10-3 in non-conference play, including wins over Marquette, SMU and Texas, while losing at South Carolina, Virginia Tech and at UCLA. Michigan, which averages 74.4 ppg, has been tough at home, going 9-2 at the Crisler Center this year. Michigan has gotten off to a slow start, going 1-3 in Big Ten play and looks to break a two-game losing streak.
 

One of the most balanced teams in the Big Ten, Michigan’s lineup features four double-figure scorers and two others who average at least eight points per game. Seniors Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr. lead the Michigan attack, as they combined for over 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists per game. The Wolverines are also tough from 3-point range, shooting 38 percent as a team. Moritz Wagner and DJ Wilson both shoot over 40 percent from long range and combine for 10 boards per contest.

SERIES HISTORY
Saturday’s meeting is the 15th between the Huskers and Wolverines and the first of two meetings this season. Michigan leads the all-time series, 11-2, in a series that dates back to 1949, although the Wolverines’ win over the Huskers in the 1992 Rainbow Classic was later vacated. Nebraska looks to snap an eight-game losing streak to the Wolverines.
 

Michigan has won all six conference meetings with the Huskers and is the only Big Ten team NU has not beaten since joining the conference prior to the 2011-12 season. One of Nebraska’s two wins in the series was a 74-73 win over No. 1 Michigan at the NU Coliseum on Dec. 12, 1964. In that game, Fred Hare’s buzzer beater knocked off the Cazzie Russell-led Wolverines. That win is one of three wins over No. 1 ranked teams in Nebraska’s history.

LAST MEETING VS. MICHIGAN
Andrew White III and Glynn Watson Jr. led four Huskers in double figures with 15 points apiece, but Nebraska’s second-half rally fell short, as the Huskers fell to Michigan 81-68 on Jan. 23.
White scored 13 points in the second half to total 15 for the game, while Watson also contributed 15 points for the Huskers (12-9, 4-4 Big Ten). Tai Webster pitched in 12 points, five rebounds and five steals, and Shavon Shields added 11 points. Ed Morrow Jr. led the Huskers on the glass with six rebounds.
 

Michigan opened the second half on a 16-3 run and led by 18 with 13:30 left, only to see the Huskers claw back. Watson and White led NU on a 10-0 spurt over the next two minutes, combining for eight straight points before a putback from Morrow made it 54-46 with 11:29 left.
 

Nebraska, which forced 14 Michigan turnovers, kept clawing back, as 3-pointers from Webster and Shields made it a six-point game. Michigan, which shot 68 percent in the second half, led 66-59 before Webster took over on the defensive end. The junior recorded steals on consecutive possessions, the last pulling Nebraska within 66-64 with 3:11 left.
From there, Michigan’s poise took over, as the Wolverines went 10-of-10 from the line, as the visitors outscored NU 15-4 to close out the win.

LAST TIME OUT
Despite strong performances from Michael Jacobson and Evan Taylor, Nebraska suffered its first Big Ten loss of the season and saw its four-game win streak snapped with a 74-66 loss to Northwestern Sunday afternoon.
 

Jacobson posted second double-double of the year with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Taylor scored a season-high 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting to join Tai Webster in double figures for Nebraska (9-7, 3-1 Big Ten).
 

Nebraska led by as many as seven and built a 46-40 lead after a Jacobson jumper with 14:46 left before the Wildcats made a surge. Northwestern used a 16-4 run to seize the momentum and quiet the sellout crowd of 15,053. The Wildcats hit four straight 3-pointers, the last by Vic Law which gave the visitors a 56-50 lead with just under 10 minutes remaining.
 

Nebraska cut the deficit to 56-54 after a pair of Webster free throws with 7:50 left, but the Wildcats would answer, getting two straight buckets from Dererk Pardon to push the lead back to six.
 

Nebraska would hang around and was within 68-63 after a Webster 3-pointer with 1:25 left, but would get no closer, as Bryan McIntosh hit a tough up-and-under basket before the visitors closed the game by hitting its final four free throws.
 

In all, the Wildcats (13-4, 2-2 Big Ten) shot 51 percent, including 11-of-24 from 3-point range while also going 13-of-14 from the line. Scottie Lindsey led four Northwestern players in double figures with 19 points, while Law added 15 points, including 5-of-6 from 3-point range.
 

Tai Webster had 17 points and six rebounds for the Huskers, whose 3-0 start in Big Ten play was its best in 41 seasons.

WORTH NOTING

  • Nebraska’s 3-1 Big Ten is its best since joining the conference six seasons ago, and the Huskers’ best start since the 1997-98 campaign. The last time the Huskers began conference play with a 4-1 mark was during the 1990-91 season, a year where NU won a school record 26 games.
  • This year was already the first time 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.
  • Nebraska is the only team in the Big Ten with two scorers in the top-10 league scorers in senior Tai Webster (17.7 ppg, 4th) and Glynn Watson Jr. (14.6 ppg, 8th).
  • 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.

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. Through the first 16 games, 67 percent of NU’s minutes and 66 percent of NU’s points have come from the freshmen and sophomore classes.

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 averaging 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
 

  • He is one of eight players in Division I averaging 17.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Among power conferences, he joins Markelle Fultz (Washington) and Dennis Smith Jr. (Washington) as the only players currently at those plateaus.
     
  • 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.
  • Webster’s 17.7 points per game is on pace to be the highest by a Husker senior since Eric Piatkowski in 1994.
  • Webster is making a strong bid to join an elite club of Big Ten players. Since 1993-94, only nine 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 and Michael Finley, Evan Turner and Damon Bailey among others.
  • He has been exceptional against NU’s best foes, as he is averaging 20.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game in NU’s four games against ranked opponents this season.
  • He leads the Huskers with seven 20-point games, matching his career high with 23 points and adding seven assists, six rebounds and four steals vs. Iowa on Jan. 5.
  • He is the only Husker to score double figures in each of NU’s 16 contests in 2016-17 and has been in double figures in 17 straight games dating back to last season.
  • Webster ranks 42nd on NU’s career scoring list with 871 points and needs just 129 points to become Nebraska’s 28th 1,000-point scorer.
  • Webster led NU with 22 points and five assists at No. 3 Kansas on Dec. 10. His other 20-point games this season have come against Sacramento State, Virginia Tech, Louisiana Tech, No. 10 Creighton and No. 16 Indiana. Prior to this year, he had just two 20-point efforts in his first Husker 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 seven assists vs. No. 14 UCLA and had 23 points and eight rebounds against Virginia Tech.

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.

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 game averaging 14.6 points, 2.9 assists and a Big Ten-best 2.1 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 (eighth) and steals (first).
  • In Big Ten action, Watson is second in the Big Ten in scoring (20.7 ppg) and is among the Big Ten leaders in steals (2.8, 3rd), 3-pointers per game (3.3, 1st), 3-point percentage (.565, 6th), assists (3.3, 11th) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.9-to-1, 10th).
  • Reached double figures 10 times, including six 20-point efforts, highlighted by a 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.
  • He 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.

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.

THIEVERY IS ELEMENTARY FOR WATSON
Watson has been a defensive terror for the Huskers, pacing the Big Ten with 2.1 steals per game entering Saturday’s game at Michigan.

  • He leads the Big Ten in steals at 2.1 per game and is the conference player averaging at least 2.0 steals per game.
  • Has seven games with at least three steals, including three games where he had a career-high five steals (Dayton, Virginia Tech, Indiana).
  • Watson is one of only 12 players in the country with three games of at least five steals in 2016-17.
  • 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 and Brian Carr.

TAKING ON A CHALLENGING SCHEDULE
Nebraska has faced a daunting 2016-17 non-conference schedule. The Huskers are 9-7 on the season and have played the fourth-toughest schedule in the country according to the NCAA’s RPI as of Jan. 11.

  • Nebraska’s non-conference schedule ranks seventh nationally and is the only Big Ten team in the top-10.
  • Nebraska has played eight games against top-50 RPI teams which is the most in the nation.
  • The Huskers’ Division I opponents are a combined 152-69, as the .688 winning percentage ranks second nationally. NU’s remaining opponents have a .699 winning percentage.
  • The Big Ten has 11 of its 14 teams in the top-100 of the RPI, including six top-50 teams, through Jan. 11.
  • Six of NU’s seven losses have come against teams ranked or receiving votes in this week’s polls.
  • Last month, 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).
  • The 2016-17 season marked the third time Nebraska has faced multiple top-10 teams prior to the start of conference play. In both of the other two instances (1950-51 and 1954-55), NU played a conference opponent as part of the Big Seven Holiday Tournament in Kansas City.
  • It is the second straight season NU faced multiple ranked teams during non-conference action. Prior to last season, it has not happened since the 2002-03 season.

HUSKERS LOOK FOR OFFENSIVE CONSISTENCY
While replacing their top two scorers who combined for nearly 33 points per game last year, there has been some growing pains at times for the youthful Husker attack, which has only one senior and one junior among its top-nine players. The Huskers are currently averaging 71.1 points per game.

  • Since the loss to Gardner-Webb on Dec. 18, the Huskers have averaged 78.8 points per game, cracking the 80-point mark in three of the last five contests.
  • For the Husker offense, 70 points has been a magic number in recent years, as Nebraska is 43-10 (.811) in Miles’ four-plus seasons at NU, including 7-2 this season.
  • The Huskers are 20-2 under Miles when scoring at least 80 points following the 93-90 double OT win over Iowa on Jan. 5. NU is 5-0 this season when scoring 80 points and are 13-1 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.
  • 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.