Nebraska MBB: Huskers Travel to Northwestern Thursday Evening

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Posted By: Sports

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Courtesy: UNL Media Relations

GAME 20: AT NORTHWESTERN
Date: Thursday, Jan. 26
Time: 7:06 p.m.
Arena: Welsh-Ryan Arena
Location: Evanston, Ill.

NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS
2016-17 Record: 9-10, 3-4 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 72-77 (5th year)
Career Record: 355-297 (22nd year)

NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS
2016-17 Record: 16-4, 5-2 Big Ten
Head coach: Chris Collins
Record at Northwestern: 65-51 (4th year)
Career Record: Same

BROADCAST INFO
Television: BTN
Online: BTN.com and BTN2Go
Play-by-play: Cory Provus
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: Jake Muhleisen
Also available online at Huskers.com, on the Huskers App and on TuneIn Radio and the TuneIn Radio App.

Huskers Travel to Northwestern Thursday Evening
After a pair of one-point losses, the Nebraska men’s basketball team looks to bounce back on Thursday evening, as the Huskers travel to Northwestern at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

The game between the Huskers and Wildcats will be carried nationally on BTN with Cory Provus and Stephen Bardo on the call. The game will also be available online on BTN.com and on BTN2Go 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 Jake Muhleisen 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 (9-10, 3-4 Big Ten) have dropped four straight games, including consecutive one-point losses to Ohio State and Rutgers last week. In both instances, the Huskers had forced a miss, but was unable to secure the final rebounds, giving both teams a second chance for the win. In all four games of the current losing streak, NU has led or been within five points in the final two minutes.
Saturday’s loss spoiled a strong second half performance by sophomore forward Jack McVeigh, who came off the bench and scored all 12 of his points in the second half. McVeigh hit a trio of 3-pointers in a late 9-2 run to give the Huskers a 64-59 lead with 1:34 left.

McVeigh has stepped up off the bench for the Huskers, averaging 8.3 points per game on 43 percent shooting in the three games that sophomore Ed Morrow Jr. has missed because of injury.
The Huskers will need their backcourt of Glynn Watson Jr. and Tai Webster to turn in a strong effort. In Big Ten play, they are combining for 38 points per game, as Webster leads the conference in scoring at 19.9, while Watson is sixth at 18.1 ppg.

Northwestern (16-4, 5-2 Big Ten) has been on a roll since the 74-66 win over Nebraska in Lincoln on Jan. 8. The Wildcats have won four straight, including a 74-72 victory at Ohio State on Sunday, and sit a half-game out of first place in the tightly-benched Big Ten standings. Scottie Lindsey’s 16.1 points per game leads a balanced Northwestern attack that has three players averaging at least 12 points per game.

NUMBERS TO KNOW
2.8 – Steals per game for junior Evan Taylor over the Huskers’ last five contests. Taylor tied his season high with four steals at Rutgers.

3 – The one-point losses to Ohio State and Rutgers marked the third time in program history that NU has dropped consecutive one-point decisions and the first since 1975.

6 – The Huskers’ six second-chance points at Rutgers was NU’s second-lowest total of the season despite getting 16 offensive rebounds against the Scarlet Knights.

18 – Isaiah Roby’s blocked shots this season. He needs two more to become the eighth Husker freshmen to record at least 20 blocked shots in a season. Roby is averaging 1.4 blocks per game in conference play to rank ninth in the Big Ten.

19.9 – Tai Webster’s scoring average in Big Ten play, which is the most by a Husker in conference play since Tyronn Lue averaged 21.8 points per game in 1997-98.

SCOUTING NORTHWESTERN
Northwestern comes into Thursday’s game playing its best basketball of the season. The Wildcats are 16-4 on the season and tied with Purdue for third place in the Big Ten race. Since opening Big Ten play with a 1-2 mark, the Wildcats have won four straight, including a trio of road victories.

Under fourth-year coach Chris Collins, the Wildcats have been one of the surprises of the season in the conference. Northwestern went 11-2 in non-conference play, including wins over Dayton, Wake Forest and Texas with the losses coming in the final seconds at both Butler and against Notre Dame.

Northwestern is a balanced club with three players in double figures and four others averaging at least 6.5 points per game. The Wildcats have also held teams to 39 percent shooting, including 31 percent from 3-point range. The Wildcats are led by junior guard Bryant McIntosh, who averages 12.6 points and 5.4 assists per game, ranking third in the conference in assists. McIntosh, a three-year starter, set Northwestern’s single-season record with 213 last season in helping the Wildcats win a school-record 20 regular-season games in 2015-16. Scottie Lindsey leads Northwestern at 16.1 points per game while Vic Law is at 14.0 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Law and Lindsey both shoot over 37 percent from 3-point range. Sophomore Darerk Pardon leads the Wildcats in both rebounding (7.8) and blocked shots (2.6) while averaging 7.8 points per game on 56 percent shooting.

SERIES HISTORY
Nebraska and Northwestern meet for the 13th time on Thursday, as the Huskers hold a 7-5 lead in a series that dates back to 1933. Nebraska had won four straight before the Wildcats have won the last two meetings. Nebraska’s last win in Evanston was a 53-49 win on Feb. 8, 2014.

LAST MEETING VS. NORTHWESTERN
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.
Jacobson posted his 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.
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.
The Wildcats shot 51 percent, including 11-of-24 from 3-point range while also going 13-of-14 from the line.

LAST TIME OUT
Corey Sanders finished with 25 points, including an offensive putback with 1.0 seconds remaining, as Nebraska suffered its second last second loss of the week, falling 65-64 at Rutgers on Saturday.
Nebraska led by one with 9.8 seconds remaining, and got Sanders, who was 11-of-18 from the field, to miss his first attempt off the backboard, but the Rutgers guard got the rebound and hit the game-winner off the glass.

Nebraska (9-10, 3-4 Big Ten) was unable to get a final shot in suffering its second straight loss in the last second.

Nebraska trailed 57-55 with 3:35 left before Jack McVeigh took over, as the sophomore hit a trio of 3-pointers, in a two-minute span, the last of which gave the Huskers a 64-59 lead with 1:31 left. McVeigh had all 12 of his points in the second half, as NU shot 48 percent in the second half after shooting just 22 percent in the opening 20 minutes.

Rutgers (12-8, 1-6 Big Ten) chipped away, as a basket by C.J. Gettys made it a three-point lead with 1:15 left. After a Husker turnover, Deshawn Freeman hit two free throws with 40 seconds left to make it a one-point game and set up the finish. NU had a chance to put the game away, but another costly turnover gave the hosts a final opportunity they would not waste.

Webster led four Huskers in double figures with 14 points, while Glynn Watson Jr. and McVeigh added 12 apiece.

WORTH NOTING

  • All seven of NU’s Big Ten games have been decided by eight points or less, including five games by four points or less.
  • Nebraska will look for its third conference road win of the season on Thursday at Northwestern. If NU can get the win, it will mark the third time in four years (also 2014 and 2016) that NU has won three Big Ten road games. From 2000 to 2011, NU accomplished the feat just three times (2005, 2006 and 2009).
  • Tai Webster comes into Saturday’s game with 931 career points to rank 33rd on NU’s career scoring chart. He is in range to pass Terrance Badgett (953) and Nate Branch (958) against Northwestern.
  • Webster has reached double figures in 20 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 will likely be without Ed Morrow Jr. for the fourth 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).
  • Glynn Watson Jr. and Northwestern guard Jordan Ash were teammates at Westchester St. Joseph High School, winning the Illinois Class 3A title in 2015. St. Joseph High School has also produced two of NU’s 27 1,000-point scorers in Clifford Scales and Carl Hayes.
  • Watson is one of three Illinois natives on the Husker roster, joining Ed Morrow (Chicago) and Isaiah Roby (Dixon).
  • Nebraska Assistant Coach Jim Molinari is no stranger to the Chicago area, as he was a longtime assistant coach at DePaul before serving as head coach at Northern Illinois, Bradley and Western Illinois.
  • The Huskers are the only power conference team and one of nine Division I programs with multiple players averaging at least 18 points per game in conference play.
  • Nebraska is the only Big Ten team with two scorers among the top-10 league scorers in senior Tai Webster (18.1 ppg, 2nd) and Glynn Watson Jr. (14.6 ppg, 8th).
  • 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.
  • 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.

AVERYSTRONG DAY SET FOR SUNDAY VS. PURDUE
As part of the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers Weekend, the Husker basketball program will have its annual #AveryStrong Day to help raise awareness for the National Bone Marrow Registry. Volunteers will be on hand to help people join the registry, while the first 500 students, as well as any fan who joins the National Bone Marrow Registry on Sunday, will receive a special #AveryStrong Day shirt. The team will also be joined by children fighting cancer for starting lineups and will be recognized during halftime.

Over the last two years, nearly 400 people have been added to the registry, and four people have been matched for Bone Marrow Transplants. For more information on the National Bone Marrow Registry, visit Bethematch.com.

HUSKER YOUTH MOVEMENT
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 19 games, 66 percent of NU’s minutes and 64 percent of NU’s points have come from the freshmen and sophomore classes.

TAI TAKES OVER
Last season, Tai Webster was one of the most improved players in the Big Ten, and the 6-foot-4 guard has emerged as one of the top players in the conference as a senior. Webster comes into the week averaging 18.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game.

  • Webster ranks fourth in the Big Ten in scoring and seventh in assists and is the only Big Ten player in the top-10 in both scoring and assists. He is also fifth in steals per game.
  • He is one of eight players in Division I averaging 17.0 points, 4.75 rebounds and 3.75 assists per game. Among power conferences, he joins freshman Markelle Fultz (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.
  • He leads the Huskers with eight 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 has been exceptional against the Huskers 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 (UCLA, Kansas, Creighton, Indiana).
  • 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 and Michael Finley, Evan Turner and Damon Bailey among others.
  • He is the only Husker to score double figures in each of NU’s 19 contests in 2016-17 and has been in double figures in 20 straight games dating back to last season.
  • 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 Rutgers game averaging 14.6 points, 2.7 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 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 (second).
  • In Big Ten action, Watson is sixth in the Big Ten in scoring (18.1 ppg) and is among the Big Ten leaders in steals (2.0 5th), 3-pointers per game (3.0, 3rd) and 3-point percentage (.488, 8th).
  • Reached double figures 13 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.
  • 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.

MORROW ENJOYS BREAKOUT SEASON
Sophomore Ed Morrow Jr. has enjoyed a breakout season. One of the "Five Most Improved Players" in the Big Ten by BTN analyst Shon Morris, Morrow has raised his scoring average from 4.1 points to 10.1 points per game on 55 percent shooting, while ranking among the Big Ten leaders with 7.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. Morrow comes into the week ranked sixth in the Big Ten in rebounding and seventh blocked shots.

  • Morrow is out indefinitely after suffering a right foot injury and has missed NU’s last three contests after playing just 17 minutes against Northwestern on Jan. 8.
  • Morrow’s 7.9 rebounds per game is on pace to be the highest average by a Husker sophomore since Venson Hamilton averaged 8.4 caroms per outing in 1996-97. Only seven Husker sophomores since the 1953-54 season have averaged at least eight rebounds per game.
  • Reached double figures seven times this year after reaching double figures just four times in 2015-16.
  • Earned his third double-double of the season with 12 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots in the win over No. 16 Indiana on Dec. 28. In that game, Morrow had two big offensive putbacks in the final two minutes to preserve NU’s lead.
  • Grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds vs. Gardner-Webb on Dec. 18. It was the highest total by a Husker since the 2006-07 season. He also matched his then-career high with four blocked shots in the game.
  • Turned in a strong effort at No. 3 Kansas, finishing with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting and seven rebounds.
  • Snagged a then-career-high 13 rebounds against No. 10 Creighton on Dec. 7.
  • Earned his second career double-double at Clemson on Nov. 30, grabbing a then-career-high 12 rebounds and adding 10 points and three blocked shots.
  • Collected his first career double-double against Dayton, scoring 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting and grabbing 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.
  • Morrow’s mother, Nafeesah Brown, was a standout basketball player for the Huskers in the mid-1990s, as she averaged 16.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game during her Husker career. As a senior, she averaged 20.2 points and 10.1 rebounds per game in earning first-team All-Big Eight honors.

TAKING ON A CHALLENGING SCHEDULE
Nebraska has faced a daunting 2016-17 non-conference schedule. The Huskers are 9-10 on the season and have played the toughest schedule in the country according to the NCAA’s RPI as of Jan. 23.

  • Nebraska’s non-conference schedule ranks third nationally as of Jan. 23.
  • The Huskers’ Division I opponents are a combined 219-105, as the .676 winning percentage is the best in the country. NU’s remaining opponents have a .679 winning percentage.
  • The Big Ten currently has 11 of its 14 teams in the top-100 of the RPI, including seven top-50 teams.
  • 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.

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 71.5 points per game despite losing a pair of players in the rotation for significant stretches of time during Big Ten play.

  • Nebraska is third in scoring offense in conference play at 75.4 points per game while ranking seventh in field goal percentage (.446) and 3-point percentage (.386).
  • Since the loss to Gardner-Webb on Dec. 18, the Huskers have averaged 76.1 points per game, cracking the 80-point mark in four of the past eight contests.
  • For the Husker offense, 70 points has been a magic number in recent years, as Nebraska is 43-11 (.796) in Miles’ four-plus seasons at NU, including 7-3 this season.
  • The Huskers are 20-3 under Miles when scoring at least 80 points following the 91-85 loss to Michigan on Jan. 14. NU is 5-1 this season when scoring 80 points and are 13-2 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.
  • 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.