The Nebraska basketball team returns to Pinnacle Bank Arena Saturday afternoon to host Northwestern on Legends Weekend. The matchup between the Huskers and Northwestern is completely sold out, as a crowd in excess of 15,000 is expected for Nebraska’s only Saturday home game of the Big Ten season.
Tipoff is set for 4:05 p.m. Coverage on News Radio 1110 KFAB starts at 3PM with Kent Pavelka and Matt Davison.
Saturday’s game is part of Legends Weekend, a two-day event which brings former players, coaches and staff back to campus to interact with the current Husker team. Another tradition of Legends Weekends is that the Huskers will don throwback jerseys for the game. On Saturday, the Huskers will honor the 1911-12 Husker squad which won the program’s first-ever conference title. The first 700 Red Zone students in attendance will receive a custom shirt for Legends Weekend.
The Huskers (16-11, 8-7 B1G) saw their five-game win streak snapped Wednesday night in a 60-49 loss at Illinois. The Fighting Illini forced 15 turnovers and turned them into 24 points, while enjoying a 15-6 advantage in second-chance points. Those two things mitigated a Husker defensive effort which held the Fighting Illini to just 37 percent shooting from the field. The bright spot in the loss was the play of backups Leslee Smith and Benny Parker, who combined for 15 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the field.
Nebraska has plenty to play for entering the month of March, as the Huskers can guarantee itself a top-six Big Ten finish and a .500 conference record with a win against the Wildcats.
Northwestern (12-16, 5-10 B1G) has been off since a six-point loss to Indiana last Saturday. The Wildcats, who are looking to snap a five-game losing streak which began with a 53-49 loss to the Huskers in Evanston on Feb. 8, feature one of the best guards in the Big Ten in Drew Crawford. The senior averages 15.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while leading the Wildcats with 60 assists.
By the Numbers
.846 - Nebraska’s winning percentage in games decided by five points or less under Tim Miles. The Huskers are 11-2 in such games over the last two seasons.
.875 - The Huskers are 7-1 under Tim Miles on ESPNU over the last two seasons.
.889 - David Rivers’ shooting percentage from the floor since returning to the starting lineup on Feb. 16. He is averaging 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds a game in that stretch.
2 - Nebraska and Indiana are the only Big Ten team with multiple 30-point scorers this season.
4 - The Huskers have had four players total double-doubles this season (Leslee Smith, Walter Pitchford, Shavon Shields and Terran Petteway).
Northwestern comes into Saturday’s game with a 12-16 record and 5-10 Big Ten mark looking to snap a five-game losing streak. The Wildcats have been off since a 61-56 loss to Indiana in Evanston on Feb. 22. The Wildcats are led by Chris Collins, who spent the last 13 seasons at Duke under Hall of Fame Coach Mike Krzyzewski before taking the Northwestern job last spring.
Northwestern, which returned four starters and eight letterwinners from 2012-13, got off to a slow start, going 7-9 including three straight losses in Big Ten play before playing some of their best basketball of the season. The Wildcats went 5-2 over a seven-game stretch, including road wins at Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota, heading into the first matchup with the Huskers. That day, Nebraska overcame a six-point halftime deficit to win 53-49, and Northwestern has dropped its next four, including six-point setbacks to both Minnesota and Indiana.
The Wildcats’ strength is on the defensive end, as they are allowing just 63.7 points per game to rank fourth in the league in scoring defense. Northwestern is holding foes to 41 percent shooting, including just 32 percent from 3-point range to rank fourth in the Big Ten. On the other hand, Northwestern’s offense has struggled at times, shooting just 40 percent from the field and are being out-rebounded by over four boards per game. The Wildcats average a conference-low 60.5 points per game.
Fifth-year senior Drew Crawford has been the catalyst for the Wildcats, as he leads the team in scoring (15.6) and rebounding (6.6). He had 30 points in a win at Wisconsin earlier this season and ranks among the top 10 in the Big Ten in both scoring and rebounding. JerShon Cobb has been solid for the Wildcats at the point, averaging 12.2 points per game and dishing out 57 assists, but missed the Indiana game with a foot injury and is out for Saturday’s game. Sophomore Tre Demps gives Northwestern another outside scorer as he averages 11.1 points per game off the bench while shooting 36 percent from 3-point range. Sophomore Alex Olah mans the interior with 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game while blocking nearly two shots a contest. If Cobb is unable to go, junior Dave Sobolewski will be relied on, as he started at the point for the previous two years before suffering a concussion in January.
Nebraska-Northwestern Series History
Nebraska and Northwestern meet for only the eighth time ever on Saturday afternoon, as the Huskers hold a 5-2 lead in a series that dates back to 1933. Nebraska is 2-0 all-time in Lincoln with victories in 1975 and 2013. The Huskers have won five of the last six meetings dating back to 1975.