No. 21 Huskers Open 2014-15 Season vs. Northern Kentucky
Posted By: Sports
Game #1 vs. Northern Kentucky
Date: Sunday, Nov. 16
Time: 1:05 p.m.
Arena: Pinnacle Bank Arena
2013-14 Record: 19-13, 11-7 Big Ten
Head coach: Tim Miles
Record at Nebraska: 34-31 (Third year)
Career Record: 317-251 (20th year)
Northern Kentucky Norse
2013-14 Record: 9-21, 5-13 Atlantic Sun
Head coach: Dave Bezold
Record at NKU: 181-116 (11th year)
Career Record: Same
Online Watching: BTN Plus (subscription required) – available online and on the BTN2Go app
Announcers: Hunter Cave and Michael Dixon
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.
Satellite Radio: Ch. 98 (Sirius) Ch. 196 (XM)
Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka
Expert Analysis: Matt Davison
Live Stats: Huskers.com
No. 21 Huskers Open 2014-15 Season vs. Northern Kentucky
The Nebraska basketball team tips off the 119th season in program history this Sunday, Nov. 16, as the No. 21 Huskers welcome Northern Kentucky to Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Tipoff is set for 1:05 p.m. at the Pinnacle Bank Arena and will be produced by the IMG Husker Sports Radio Network 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 on SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
A limited number of tickets for Sunday’s game are available by visiting Huskers.com, calling the Nebraska Athletic Ticket Office at 800-8-BIG RED or visiting the Pinnacle Bank Arena box office beginning Sunday at 11:30 a.m.
Live video streaming of Sunday’s game will be carried on BTN Plus with Hunter Cave and Michael Dixon on the call. For more information on how to subscribe to BTN Plus, visit btn2go.com. Sunday’s game against NKU is the Huskers’ only regular-season game on BTN Plus in 2014-15.
The Huskers open one of the most anticipated seasons in program history in 2014-15. Not only do the Huskers return all five starters from a team that went 19-13 and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998, but the program is ranked in the preseason poll for the first time since the 1992-93 season.
Nebraska is led by a trio of junior returnees in All-American candidate Terran Petteway, Shavon Shields and Walter Pitchford. Petteway averaged a Big Ten-best 18.1 points per game along with 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game to earn unanimous first-team All-Big Ten honors. Shields, who averaged 12.8 points and a team-best 5.8 rebounds per game joins Petteway in giving the Huskers a pair of double-figure returnees for the first time since the 2003-04 campaign. Pitchford proved to be one of the Big Ten’s top shooters as a sophomore, as the 6-foot-10 forward shot 41 percent from 3-point range and averaged 9.3 points per game. The trio combined to average 39.3 points and 15.3 rebounds per game last season.
Nebraska returns to Pinnacle Bank Arena for the first time since an 83-61 win over Southwest Minnesota State on Nov. 6. In that game, Shavon Shields had game highs in both points (29) and rebounds (nine) to pace four Huskers in double figures. Sophomore Tai Webster, who averaged 3.9 points per game as a freshman, added 16 points on 4-of-5 shooting and a trio of 3-pointers for the Big Red.
Northern Kentucky wraps up a two-game road trip on Sunday after opening at No. 3 Wisconsin Friday night. The Norse, who went just 9-21 last season, were picked to finish fifth in the Atlantic Sun Conference and return their top six scorers this season. In addition, the Norse also regain the services of Chad Jackson, who started the previous two seasons and averaged 10.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in 2012-13.
|0||Tai Webster||G||So.||6-4||199||32/30||3.9||2.1||2.0 apg|
|5||Terran Petteway||G||Jr.||6-6||215||32/32||18.1||4.8||1.6 apg|
|31||Shavon Shields||G/F||Jr.||6-7||221||32/32||12.8||4.8||1.6 apg|
|2||David Rivers||F||Sr.||6-7||200||25/14||3.9||2.9||1.0 spg|
|35||Walter Pitchford||F||Jr.||6-10||237||32/31||9.3||4.7||0.5 bpg|
|Northern Kentucky||2013-14 stats|
|11||Jordan Jackson||G||Sr.||6-2||185||28/26||13.5||5.0||2.9 apg|
|33||Anthony Monaco||G||Jr.||6-4||180||30/16||3.1||2.9||1.4 apg|
|23||Todd Johnson||G||Jr.||5-9||170||23/23||8.7||3.8||2.0 apg|
|3||Tyler White||G||Jr.||6-3||190||28/25||10.8||2.7||2.0 apg|
|21||Jalen Billups||F/C||Jr.||6-6||240||30/25||9.6||5.2||1.1 bpg|
3 Numbers 2 Know
28,091 – Miles that sophomore point guard Tai Webster logged over the summer playing for the New Zealand National Team, including games in New Zealand, China, South Korea, Lithuania, Serbia and Spain.
81.5 – Percent of the Huskers’ point total which is back in 2014-15. It is the first time since 2003-04 (89.9 pct.) that the Huskers have returned at least 70 percent of the previous year’s scoring total. For comparison, NU returned 49.7 percent of its points last season and just 24 percent entering 2012-13.
174 – Number of career starts at Nebraska for Husker players entering 2014-15.
Scouting Northern Kentucky
The Norse wrap up a two-game Big Ten swing on Sunday after opening the season against Wisconsin on Friday night. Dave Bezold is in his 11th season at Northern Kentucky and has guided the program from Division II to the Division I ranks. The Norse, who are eligible to compete in the Atlantic Sun Tournament for the first time this season, are in their third season in the Division I ranks and were picked to finish fifth in the Atlantic Sun in a preseason vote by both the coaches and the media. Prior to making the move, the Norse were one of the best programs in Division II, winning 20 or more games in five of its last six seasons and making the national tournament in 2011-12. NKU looks to improve after going 9-21 last year, but returns its top six scorers and 13 of its 14 players. Senior guard Jordan Jackson leads the Norse, averaging 13.5 points and 5.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game as a junior. Junior guard Tyler White joined Jackson in double figures with 10.8 points per game, including 49 3-pointers. In addition to returning its top six scorers, NKU also regains the services of fifth-year senior Chad Jackson, a two-year starter who averaged 10.1 points per game in 2012-13 before redshirting last season.
Series History: Sunday’s matchup will be the first-ever between the Huskers and Northern Kentucky. The Huskers are 5-0 all-time against current members of the Atlantic Sun Conference, including a 79-55 win over Florida Gulf Coast in the 2013-14 season opener.
Last Time Out
No. 21 Nebraska shook off a slow start in its exhibition opener and rebounded for an 83-61 win over Southwest Minnesota State on Nov. 6. The Huskers, who shot just 30 percent in the second half, rallied behind the play of sophomore Tai Webster, who scored nine of his 16 points in a 15-4 surge to open the second half.
Webster went 4-of-5 from the floor on the night, including a trio of 3-pointers as four Huskers finished in double figures. Junior Shavon Shields led all scorers with a game-high 29 points and nine rebounds, while Terran Petteway and Benny Parker added 10 points apiece for the Big Red.
The Huskers, who trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half, were down 34-30 at the break before Webster took over. The sophomore hit consecutive 3-pointers during an 8-0 Husker run to give Nebraska its first lead since the opening minutes. The 6-foot-4 sophomore then capped the run with a conventional 3-point play, putting Nebraska ahead 45-38 with 15:06 left.
Southwest Minnesota State was within 45-43 with 12:55 left, but a jumper by David Rivers and four Webster free throws capped a 6-0 spurt and put the Huskers ahead 51-43. SMSU pulled to within five at 51-46 on a Cole Martin 3-pointer, but the Huskers put the game away with a 16-3 run highlighted by eight straight points from Shields.
*- Nebraska improved to 53-6 all-time in exhibitions games (dating back to 1966-67) and has won 11 in a row.
*-Tai Webster’s 16 points would have been a career high, topping the 14 point effort he had against Georgia as a freshman. He also knocked down three 3-pointers, which was half of his entire 2013-14 total in 32 appearances.
*- Benny Parker had 10 points, which would have been his first career game in double figures.
*- Nebraska connected on 63 percent shooting in the second half, while its 15 assists would have been the team’s third-highest single-game total in 2013-14.
Nebraska begins its 119th season of basketball on Sunday afternoon and here are some facts and figures about season openers for the Husker basketball program.
*- Nebraska is 79-39 (.669) all-time in season openers and have won 13 straight season openers dating back to an 87-83 setback at Oral Roberts to begin the 2000 season. Nebraska is 20-2 in its past 22 season openers dating back to the 1992-93 campaign.
*-The last time Nebraska lost a season opener at home was 1980 when NU fell to Wyoming, 62-59, in overtime. The Huskers have won 24 straight season openers at home since that loss.
*-Nebraska went 35-2 in season openers at the Devaney Center. NU’s only two home-opening losses at the Devaney Center came to Iowa in the building’s inaugural game in 1976 and to Wyoming in 1980.
*-Nebraska’s Nov. 16 opener matches the latest season-opening date since the 2005-06 season.
Opening as a Ranked Team
The Huskers open the 2014-15 season in the national rankings for the first time since the 1994-95 season, as the Huskers are 21st in both the AP and coaches polls. It marks the first time since Jan. 2, 1995, that Nebraska is nationally ranked and just the second time in AP poll history and first since 1992 that the Huskers opened the season as a ranked team. Nebraska is 34-18 when ranked all-time in program history. In addition to the AP and Coaches polls, other publications have taken notice of the Huskers as well.
Huskers will be Tested in 2014-15
Nebraska will be tested before the Big Ten season opens against Indiana on New Year’s Eve, as the Huskers host a pair of NCAA Tournament teams (Cincinnati and Creighton) as well as travel to Florida State, Rhode Island and Hawaii in non-conference action.
*-The five known opponents who Nebraska will face in December (Florida State, Creighton, Incarnate Word, Cincinnati and Hawaii) combined to post a 117-46 record in 2013-14. In additon, the Huskers could face No. 11 Wichita State, who went 35-1 last season, in the semifinals of the Diamond Head Classic.
*-Five Big Ten teams (Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan) are ranked in the AP preseason poll while four others (Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Maryland) are receiving votes.
*-With the Big Ten schedule, the Huskers will face five teams both home and away in 2014-15, and all five of those teams are ranked or receiving votes in the preseason AP poll (Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota and Wisconsin).
How The Huskers Spent the Summer
Several Husker basketball players were busy over the summer working on their game. In addition to the players who were in Lincoln, several others represented the program and their respective home countries.
*-Tai Webster: Played for the New Zealand National Team over the summer, including the FIBA World Cup in Spain. He joined the team for its pre-tournament tour, playing in 12 of 13 games before the FIBA World Cup, where he helped New Zealand reach the round of 16. He averaged 5.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game despite being the fourth-youngest player in the tournament, finishing second among all teenagers in both points per game and assists per game. Webster had eight points, seven rebounds and three assists in a win over the Ukraine and added seven points and five rebounds against Turkey. Against Team USA, he had four points and a pair of blocked shots in 15 minutes against the eventual gold medalists.
*-Leslee Smith: Represented the British Virgin Islands at the 2014 FIBA Caribbean Basketball Championships in Tortola, British Virgin Islands. Smith averaged 7.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game before suffering a torn left ACL on July 3 against the Virgin Islands. The British Virgin Islands was 2-1 with Smith in action and went winless without the 6-foot-8 forward. Smith is hoping to return to action in time for Big Ten Conference action in January.
*-Terran Petteway: Competed at the Kevin Durant Skills Academy, which featured the top 15 collegiate wing players in the country, and served as a camp counselor at the adidas Nations camp.
*-Shavon Shields: Joined Petteway as a camp counselor at the adidas Nations camp, an event which featured high school, college and professional players.
Petteway Leads Husker Returnees
Junior wing Terran Petteway comes into 2014-15 as one of the Big Ten’s premier players. The 6-foot-6 junior has been featured on several lists of top players in college basketball and was a 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.
Nebraska has had eight All-Americans in program history, most recently Carl McPipe during the 1977-78 season.
This season, 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.
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.
Petteway finished seventh on Nebraska’s single-season scoring list with 579 points, as only Dave Hoppen, Tyronn Lue, Eric Piatkowski, and Andre Smith have scored more points in a season. He also finished second on the Huskers’ single-season free throw list with 167.
Defense Keyed Second-Half Improvement
In 2013-14, the Huskers’ biggest in-season improvements came on the defensive end. The Huskers entered Big Ten play last in field goal defense and eighth in scoring defense, but dramatically improved during conference action.
Over the last 16 games of the 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).
Shields Keys Husker Attack
While Petteway has become one of the best players in the Big Ten, the emergence of junior Shavon Shields is equally vital to the Huskers attack. 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.
Shields is one of four returnees to rank in the top 15 in both scoring and rebounding in Big Ten play last year, joining Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin), Rayvonte Rice (Illinois) and Aaron White (Iowa).
Shields played some of his best basketball since moving to his natural wing position in February, averaging 15.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the field over NU’s last 12 contests. The Huskers went 8-4 over that stretch.
Shields earned Big Ten Co-Player of the Week for his efforts during the last week of the season, averaging 21.5 points per game in wins over Indiana and Wisconsin, as he had 26 points against the ninth-ranked Badgers and 17 points and eight rebounds in the win at Indiana.
His best offensive effort came against Illinois on Feb. 12, when he scored a career-high 33 points, hitting 8-of-12 shots from the field and all 15 of his free throws. Shields tied Nebraska’s single-game record for free throws without a miss and became only the 11th Big Ten player to hit at least 15 free throws without a miss and the first since 1997.
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 sparked NU’s win at Indiana with 17 points and nine rebounds, as he scored the Huskers’ first nine points and then delivered a 3-pointer with 1:55 left to give Nebraska a four-point cushion.
Newcomers Set for Husker Debuts
Newcomers Moses Abraham, Tarin Smith and Jake Hammond are set to make their Husker debuts on Sunday.
*- Abraham is a graduate transfer who spent the past four years at Georgetown. Last year, he 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.
*- 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.
*- 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.
Two other Husker newcomers will not suit up Thursday, as freshman B.J. Day will not play after suffering a torn ACL in practice in October, while Andrew White is sitting out the season after transferring from Kansas. White, who was a top-50 recruit coming out of high school, played two seasons at Kansas, playing behind NBA lottery picks Andrew Wiggins (2014) and Ben McLemore (2013). He was the state player of the year in Virginia in 2012, averaging 22.9 points and 10 rebounds per game as a senior. He will have two years of eligibility remaining.
On the Bench
The Husker coaching and support staff has a new look this season with the hiring of Jim Molinari as an assistant coach, as well as several support staff changes. In all, the Husker coaching staff now includes a pair of coaches with over 300 wins apiece in Molinari and Head Coach Tim Miles, the reigning Big Ten Coach of the Year.
*- One of the most well-respected teachers in college basketball, Molinari brings over three decades of Division I coaching experience to Nebraska, including 20 years of head coaching experience. He is a three-time conference coach of the year during his career, while he has guided nine teams to postseason play. In addition, he has been a member of 10 NCAA Tournament staffs during his 12 seasons as a Division I assistant coach. Prior to joining the staff, he served as head coach at Western Illinois for the past six seasons. He replaced Craig Smith, who was named head coach at South Dakota in April.
*- Other changes on the staff included moving Teddy Owens to director of basketball operations and the hiring of Brett Sapp (administrative coordinator) and Ali Farokhmanesh (graduate manager).
Going Bald for #AveryStrong
During the Huskers’ media day, a pair of Huskers shaved their heads in support of a good cause. Juniors Shavon Shields and Walter Pitchford went bald as a show of support to Avery Harriman, the son of Husker assistant coach Chris Harriman. Avery is in his third battle with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and underwent a Stem Cell Transplant in September. To learn more about Avery’s fight and for updates on his progress, visit Facebook.com/AveryStrong100.
A Hot Ticket
Nebraska basketball has become one of the toughest tickets in the Big Ten since the program moved into Pinnacle Bank Arena last season. The Huskers established a school record for average attendance with 15,419 fans per game, breaking the previous mark of 13,357 set in 1992-93.
*- Nebraska ranked fourth in the Big Ten and 13th nationally. In all, seven of the top 17 nationally in average attendance are in the Big Ten.
*- Nebraska averaged 5,067 more fans per game than in 2012-13, the largest single-season increase in college basketball in seven years. It is only the eighth time since 2000 that a school has increased its attendance average by at least 5,000 fans per game from the previous season.
*- The Huskers rewarded the fans by going 15-1 in the first season at Pinnacle Bank Arena, its best home mark since the 1982-83 campaign.
*- For the 2014-15 season, ticket renewals were above 97 percent while the Red Zone season tickets were completely sold out in May.
*- Under Tim Miles, one major emphasis is taking care of the basketball, and the Huskers have been solid at that over the last two years. NU’s two lowest turnover averages in school history have come under Tim Miles, as NU finished 10th nationally with 10.7 turnovers per game in 2012-13 and averaged 10.9 turnovers per game last season.
*- Terran Petteway’s 18.1 ppg scoring average is the highest by a Husker returnee since Aleks Maric averaged 18.5 ppg as a junior. Since World War II, only six returnees have averaged more points per game than Petteway’s sophomore season (Aleks Maric, Tyronn Lue, Dave Hoppen, Andre Smith, Jerry Fort and Stu Lantz).
*- With the return of Petteway and junior wing Shavon Shields (12.8 ppg), Nebraska welcomes back a pair of double-figure scorers for the first time since the 2003-04 season and for only the third time since 2000.
*- Nebraska and Duke are the only programs currently ranked in the top 25 in football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and volleyball.
All five members of the Husker senior class are on track to receive their degree during the 2014-15 season. Trevor Menke and Moses Abraham both graduated in May and are working on master’s degrees. In addition, Leslee Smith and Kye Kurkowski will both graduate this December with degrees in sociology and agricultural engineering, respectively. David Rivers is on track to graduate in May with a degree in ethnic studies and will graduate in four years.
Huskers Announce Fall Signees
University of Nebraska men’s basketball coach Tim Miles announced on Nov. 12 that three high school seniors have signed National Letters-of-Intent to join the Husker basketball program. The three-member class consists of guard Glynn Watson Jr. (Bellwood, Ill.) and forwards Michael Jacobson (Waukee, Iowa) and Edward Morrow Jr. (Chicago, Ill.). The trio all signed with the Huskers on Wednesday, the opening day of the fall signing period.
The class comes in as one of the most highly regarded in program history, as all three players are ranked among the top 200 players in the country by at least one recruiting service. Illinois natives Edward Morrow Jr. (No. 62) and Glynn Watson Jr. (No. 66) are both rated among the top 100 players by ESPN.com, marking the first time that Nebraska has signed a top 100 player out of high school going back to the mid-1990s. The three-member class has been ranked as high as 23rd nationally by 247Sports and 28th by Rivals.
“I’m extremely excited about our recruiting class,” Miles said. “When you look at these three young guys and the addition of Andrew White, I believe the future of Husker basketball is in good hands. These are guys who are driven to win, highly competitive and very talented, and they want to be at Nebraska and help build a winner. That is exactly what you want as a coach.”
The Huskers host Central Arkansas on Tuesday, Nov. 18. Tipoff at Pinnacle Bank Arena is set for 7:05 p.m. and a limited number of tickets are available at Huskers.com or calling 800-8-BIGRED.