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Huskers Make First NCAAs Since 1998; Face Baylor in Tournament Opener

 
Huskers Make First NCAAs Since 1998; Face Baylor in Tournament Opener

 

The Nebraska basketball team makes its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1998 on Friday, as the Huskers take on No. 23 Baylor in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

Tipoff at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, is set 11:40 a.m.  Coverage on News Radio 1110 KFAB with Kent Pavelka and Matt davison starts at 10:30.

The Huskers (19-12, 11-7 Big Ten) have enjoyed a resurgence under second-year coach Tim Miles, who was named Big Ten Coach of the Year. The Huskers went 9-9 in their first 18 games before reeling off 10 wins in the final 13 games to make its postseason charge. The victories included the first sweep of Indiana in school history and a pair of wins over top-10 teams (at No. 9 Michigan State and No. 9 Wisconsin), the first time that has happened for the Huskers in two decades. Nebraska is the fourth school that Miles has guided to postseason play. The others were Mayville State (NAIA), Southwest Minnesota State (Division II) and Colorado State.

The Huskers are led by a trio of sophomores in Terran Petteway, Shavon Shields and Walter Pitchford. NU’s sophomore class accounts for more than 60 percent of its offense and 55 percent of its rebounding A first-team All-Big Ten selection, Petteway leads the conference at 18.1 points per game along with 4.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. He is also among the Big Ten’s leaders in free throw percentage (.820) and 3-pointers per game (1.6). Shields, who was an honorable-mention All-Big Ten pick, joins Petteway in double figures at 12.7 points and a team-best 5.8 rebounds per game, while Pitchford is at 9.5 points per game and shoots 42 percent from 3-point range. 

 The Huskers will meet an old Big 12 foe, as they take on the Baylor Bears (24-11, 9-9 Big 12). Like Nebraska, the Bears played their best basketball down the stretch, going 10-2 to earn the No. 6 seed. This is NU’s first meeting with a Big 12 team since joining the Big Ten three years ago.

 By the Numbers

.786 - Nebraska’s winning percentage in games decided by five points or less under Tim Miles. The Huskers are 11-3 in such games over the last two seasons.

2 - Nebraska’s roster features two Texans (Terran Petteway-Galveston; Nathan Hawkins-Rowlett), while Leslee Smith played his senior year at Christian Life Center Academy in Humble, Texas.

4 - The Huskers have had four players total double-doubles this season (Leslee Smith, Walter Pitchford, Shavon Shields and Terran Petteway).

9 - Number of Huskers who have scored in double figures at least once in 2013-14.

15.8 - Scoring average for Walter Pitchford over the last three games, as he is shooting 61 percent from the floor in that stretch.

155 - Number of 3-pointers made by Ray Gallegos in his Husker career, including 134 over the last two seasons.

Nebraska’s NCAA History
The 2014 NCAA Tournament marks Nebraska’s seventh NCAA Tournament appearance and 24th postseason appearance in school history (seven NCAAs, 17 NITs). NU makes its first NCAA appearance since the 1997-98 season. The Huskers made their first appearance in 1986 and made four straight appearances in the early 1990s, led by Rich King and Eric Piatkowski. Nebraska’s most recent NCAA appearance came in 1998, when NBA first-round pick Tyronn Lue starred in helping the Huskers to the Big Dance.

  • Tim Miles is the third Husker coach to take his team to the NCAAs, joining Moe Iba (1986) and Danny Nee (1991-92-93-94-98). It took Miles only two seasons to lead Nebraska to an NCAA appearance, the quickest among the three Husker coaches who have guided NU to the NCAAs.
  • The only Husker with postseason experience at Nebraska is fifth-year senior Ray Gallegos, who played on Nebraska’s 2010-11 NIT squad. He was scoreless in two minutes in a loss at Wichita State.
  • Sophomore Walter Pitchford played in two games at the 2012 NCAA Tournament as a true freshman at Florida. He played two minutes against Virginia in the second round and the final three minutes against Norfolk State in the third round, as the Gators eventually made the Elite Eight.

Nebraska Staff Has Postseason Experience

While the 2014 NCAA appearance marks Nebraska’s first appearance since 1998, the entire Husker coaching staff has previous experience in the Division I NCAA Tournament.

  • Tim Miles is guiding his second program to the NCAA Tournament, as he led Colorado State to the NCAAs in his final season at the school in 2011-12. That season, Miles guided the Rams to their first appearance since 2003. Nebraska is the fourth school Miles has guided to the national postseason tournament in his 19-year coaching career (Mayville State, Southwest Minnesota State, Colorado State).
  • Kenya Hunter will be making his eighth NCAA appearance as an assistant coach, all coming in the last nine seasons. Prior to joining the Nebraska staff over the summer, he made appearances at Xavier (2006-07) and Georgetown (2008, 2010-11-12-13). In addition, he was on three North Carolina State NCAA staffs as director of operations (2002-03-04).
  • Craig Smith is making his second NCAA appearance, as he was the lead assistant on Miles’ staff at Colorado State in 2012. In addition, he led Mayville (N.D.) State to three NAIA II National Tournaments as a head coach, including a national championship game appearance in 2007.
  • Chris Harriman is making his second appearance, as he was an assistant on the Saint Louis University staff which reached the third round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. That Billiken squad won 26 games and reached the NCAAs for the first time since 2000.

Previewing Baylor
Baylor makes its eighth NCAA Tournament appearance and takes on the Huskers on Friday. The Bears, who moved into the AP Top 25 on Monday, are 24-11 on the season and like the Huskers, are playing some of their best basketball of the season. Scott Drew is in his 11th season at the helm of the Bears’ program and has taken the Bears to four NCAA Tournaments, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2012. Last year, the Bears went 23-14 and won the NIT with a victory over Iowa in the title game.

This season, the Bears finished 9-9 in the Big 12 to tie for sixth in the league. Like Nebraska, Baylor has played its best down the stretch, winning 10 of their last 12 games and reached the finals of the Big 12 Tournament before falling to Iowa State. Baylor has 11 wins against the NCAA Tournament field, including non-conference wins against Colorado, UL-Lafayette, Kentucky and Dayton. Baylor is a balanced team with four starters averaging between 11.0 and 13.5 points per game. Senior forward Cory Jefferson leads the Bears in both scoring (13.5 ppg) and rebounding (8.4 rpg). Senior guard Brady Heslip is one of the nation’s top long-range shooters, as he averages 11.8 points per game and has hit 112 3-pointers. Sophomore center Isaiah Austin provides an anchor to the Baylor Zone defense, ranking among the nation’s leading shot blockers with 114 blocks this season while averaging 11.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

Nebraska-Baylor Series History
Nebraska and Baylor are meeting for the 23rd time in Friday’s NCAA Tournament opener, but first since Nebraska joined the Big Ten prior to the 2011-12 season. The Huskers hold a 12-10 advantage in the all-time series, but the Bears have won the last three matchups.

  • The teams have met in postseason play three previous times, all coming at the Big 12 Tournament (1998, 2000, 2009). Baylor won two of the three matchups.
  • Five of the past six meetings were decided by four points or less dating back to 2007. Overall, eight contests in the series have been decided by four or fewer points.
  • Nebraska’s last win over BU came in the 2009 regular-season finale when the Huskers earned a 66-62 road victory. In that game, Toney McCray had a season-high 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor.

Last meeting: Toney McCray had a then-career-high 23 points but it was not enough, as Baylor edged the Huskers with 74-70 victory at the Ferrell Center on Feb. 9, 2011. McCray hit 8-of-14 shots from the floor to pace three Huskers in double figures. LaceDarius Dunn led Baylor with a game-high 24 points, including 12-of-13 from the foul line. The Bears spent the majority of the evening at the foul line, hitting 31-of-44 shots from the charity stripe, as NU had just 19 attempts. Despite the differential from the foul line, the Huskers trailed 69-67 after a Lance Jeter jumper and had the ball after a McCray steal, but NU was unable to convert and turned the ball with 1:02 left. Dunn made the Huskers pay for the miscue, hitting a scooping layup with 38 seconds to make it a four-point lead.

Story Lines

  • The 2014 season marks the third time that both the Husker men and women reached the NCAA Tournament (also 1993 and 1998). The Husker women are 25-6 and won the Big Ten Tournament title on March 9. Nebraska is one of 25 programs to have men’s and women’s teams in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
  • Nebraska played 18 games against postseason qualifiers, including 11 games against teams that made the NCAA Tournament (Cincinnati, Creighton, Iowa, Michigan-2, Michigan State, Ohio State-3, UMass and Wisconsin). The Huskers are 3-8 against the NCAA field.
  • Friday’s matchup against Baylor will be the Huskers’ first against a Big 12 school since Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011-12.
  • A win on Friday could potentially set up rematch with in-state rival Creighton, which would be the third time the two schools have met in the postseason. NU won both previous matchups, a pair of NIT matchups in 1984 and 2004, with both games taking place in Omaha.
  • Nebraska is seeking its first NCAA Tournament win in seven appearances and are looking for their first postseason (NCAA or NIT) win since the 2008 NIT.
  • The Huskers are gunning for their 12th 20-win season in school history and first since the 2007-08 season. A win would tie the 2013-14 Huskers for seventh on NU’s single-season win chart.
  • The Huskers have topped last year’s win total, marking the 13th time in 14 seasons under a Miles’ coached-team that has matched or exceeded the previous season. The only time it did not happen in Miles tenure was in 2003-04 at North Dakota State.
  • Nebraska will look to keep its ninth opponent in the last 11 games under 40 percent shooting. In fact, NU has not allowed an opponent to shoot above than 50 percent since Jan. 9, a streak of 16 games.
  • With 561 points this season, Terran Petteway sits in seventh place on Nebraska’s single-season scoring chart .He needs 37 points to tie Dave Hoppen (598, 1983-84) for sixth place on NU’s single-season list and 42 points to tie Tyron Lue’s school mark for points by a sophomore (603, 1996-97).
  • Petteway has 12 20-point games to share the Big Ten lead in that category and it is the most since Aleks Maric had 14 in 2006-07.
  • Nebraska has relied on strong efforts from Shavon Shields and Walter Pitchford down the stretch. Over the last four games, Shields is averaging a team-high 18.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, while Pitchford is averaging 14.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in that stretch.

Three Huskers Honored by Big Ten
A trio of Huskers were honored on March 10, as the Big Ten released its 2014 All-Big Ten Basketball teams. Sophomores Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields were All-Big Ten selections by both the coaches and media panel, while Tim Miles was chosen as the Big Ten Coach of the Year by the coaches.

Miles was chosen by the conference coaches as the Big Ten Coach of the Year after leading the Huskers to their best conference finish since 1998. In his second season at the helm of the Husker program, he guided Nebraska to a 19-12 record and a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten standings. The Huskers, who were picked 12th by the media in the preseason, opened conference play with a 1-5 mark, but closed with a flourish, winning 10 of their final 12 conference games including a pair of wins over top-10 teams (Wisconsin and at Michigan State). The 11 conference wins marked NU’s highest total since 1965-66 and only the second time since World War II that NU won at least 11 conference games in a year. Miles is the fourth Husker coach to win conference coach of the year and the first since Danny Nee in 1990-91.

Petteway become the first Husker to be named first-team All-Big Ten, as he was selected to both first teams. It also marks the first time since 2008 for a Husker to be a first-team all-conference pick (Aleks Maric), while Petteway is the first NU player since Venson Hamilton in 1999 chosen by the coaches as a first-team honoree.

A sophomore guard/forward from Galveston, Texas, Petteway averaged 18.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in Big Ten action, while pacing the Huskers in both scoring and assists (37). He became the first NU player since Andre Smith in 1980-81 to lead a conference in scoring average and only the fifth Husker player in a century to accomplish the feat. He also ranked among the Big Ten leaders in rebounds (5.1, 20th), free throw percentage (.788, 12th), 3-pointers per game (1.6, 12th) and blocked shots (0.9, 12th). Petteway was in double figures in 17 of 18 conference games, including six 20-point performances. He poured in a career-high 35 point effort against Minnesota and punctuated his Big Ten season with a 26-point, 10-rebound masterpiece against ninth-ranked Wisconsin.

Shields, a sophomore wing from Olathe, Kan., was selected as an honorable-mention choice by both the coaches and the media, as he averaged 12.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in Big Ten action. Shields ranked among the conference leaders in both scoring (14th) and rebounding (11th). He was in double figures 11 times in Big Ten action, including a career-high 33-point effort against Illinois, when he tied Nebraska’s school record by going 15-of-15 from the foul line. Shields stepped up in NU’s biggest wins, totaling 26 points against No. 9 Wisconsin and 18 points in NU’s win over No. 17 Ohio State. Shields also added a team-high two double-doubles in Big Ten play (vs. Purdue and Northwestern) and had three games with at least 10 rebounds. Shields was also Nebraska’s Sportsmanship Award Nominee for his efforts in the community.

Petteway on Track for Historic Season
Terrran Petteway has come from obscurity to being a first-team All-Big Ten performer. The 6-foot-6 wing from Galveston, Texas, comes to Indianapolis leading the Big Ten in scoring at 18.1 points per game while adding 4.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists per contest.

  • 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 US 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 leads the conference at 18.1 points per game in all games and is bidding to become the first Husker since 1950 (first year the Big Seven Conference kept records) to ever lead the league in scoring for all games. In fact, only three Huskers have ranked in the top-three in conference scoring over the last four decades and none since Tyronn Lue in 1997-98.
  • He is on track to enjoy one of the highest scoring sophomore seasons in school history. At 18.1 points per game, it would be the highest by a Husker sophomore since Tyronn Lue averaged 18.8 points per game in 1996-97. In fact, only three players have averaged more than 16 points per game as a sophomore - Dave Hoppen (19.9), Lue and Jerry Fort (18.0).
  • Petteway is quickly climbing on Nebraska’s scoring list, as he is seventh in school history with 561 points and is 39 shy of becoming the sixth Husker to score 600 points in a season. He is also third in free throws made with 159, and just five away from matching Dave Hoppen (1984-85) for second. Jack Moore holds the record with 184 set in 1979-80.
  • He has raised his scoring average nearly 15 points from his true freshman year at Texas Tech (3.3), as his career high entering this season was a 13-point effort against DePaul.
  • Petteway is the only player in the Big Ten over the last two seasons with multiple 30-point games. The last person with three 30-point games in a season was John Shurna of Northwestern in 2011-12. Only nine Big Ten players have had multiple 30-point games in a season since 2009-10.
  • He’s reached double figures in 29 of 31 games, including 17 of 18 Big Ten contests, after just having one double-figure effort prior to this season. The only time he was held out of double figures in Big Ten play was a five-point effort at Michigan on Feb. 5
  • His 12 20-point games, including six in Big Ten action, put him in a tie for the Big Ten lead. His most recent 20-point effort came in the Big Ten quarterfinal loss to No. 24 Ohio State.
  • Petteway put together the finest game of his career in the win over Minnesota on Jan. 26 with a career-high 35 points on 10-of-15 shooting and six rebounds. Petteway hit four 3-pointers in the win and went 11-of-14 from the foul line. It is the highest scoring performance in conference action this year.
  • He led Nebraska to an upset win at No. 9 Michigan State with 23 points, including 16 in the second half, and five rebounds. It was NU's first win over a top-10 team since 1997.
  • Petteway posted his second double-double in the upset win over No. 9 Wisconsin on March 9, scoring 26 points, including 11 of 14 from the foul line and adding 10 rebounds in the 77-68 victory.
  • Ranks fifth in the Big Ten in free throw shooting at 82.0 percent after shooting just 46 percent from the line during his lone season at Texas Tech.
  • Recorded his first career double-double at Iowa on Dec. 31, leading all scorers with 20 points and grabbing a career-high 12 rebounds.
  • Led the Huskers at the Charleston Classic in November, averaging 22 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in three games, including a 30-point game against UMass.
  • Put together his first 30-point game of the season in a 96-91 loss to UMass at the Charleston Classic, and is now only one of 13 players in school history with multiple 30-point games at Nebraska.

Shields Keys Huskers Success
Shavon Shields is on his way to creating an impressive resume in his own right. While his father, Will, is one of the greatest linemen in college and NFL history and a three-time NFL Hall of Fame finalist, the younger Shields has played an integral role over the last two years on the court for the Huskers. As a freshman, Shavon overcame an early season elbow injury and averaged 8.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in 29 games.

  • This season, Shields has started all 31 games and is averaging 12.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, as he leads the Huskers in rebounding and is second in scoring.
  • Shields has played some of his best basketball during the second half of Big Ten play, averaging 15.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the field over NU’s last 11 contests. The Huskers are 8-3 over that stretch.
  • A team tri-captain, he has started 50 straight games dating back to his freshman year.
  • 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.
  • He posted his fourth 20-point effort of the year against the No. 9 Badgers, hitting 10-of-16 shots from the floor while going 6-of-7 from the foul line in the 77-68 win.
  • Shields shined in the win at Indiana on March 5, leading the team with 17 points and eight rebounds, as Nebraska picked up its first-ever season sweep against the Hoosiers.
  • He has put together two double-doubles down the stretch, a 17-point, 10-rebound performance against Northwestern March 1 and 18 points and 10 boards against Purdue on Feb. 23.
  • 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.
  • He keyed Nebraska to a win over No. 17 Ohio State on Jan. 20 when he scored a game-high 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
  • He has been in double figures 20 times, and has grabbed at least six rebounds 18 times, including a season-high 10 rebounds on three occasions (at Penn State, Purdue, Northwestern).
  • Shields has paced the Huskers in scoring nine times and has four 20-point efforts, all coming against 2013 NCAA Tournament qualifiers (Florida Gulf Coast, Creighton, Illinois and Wisconsin).
  • He was named Big Ten Player of the Week and Lute Olson National Player of the Week for his effort against Sweet 16 qualifier Florida Gulf Coast in the season opener. In that game he scored a game-high 28 points - one off his career high - hitting 8-of-13 shots from the field and a perfect 12-of-12 from the line. The 6-foot-7 forward also led NU in rebounds (six) and assists (three).
  • Last summer, Shields played for the Denmark U-20 National Team, leading the country to the 2013 Nordic Cup Championship. He averaged 13.3 points per game in wins over Sweden, Finland and Estonia, capping the tournament with a 17-point, 12-rebound effort in a 101-94 double overtime win over Estonia.
  • Off the court, Shields is a microbiology major who wants to become a doctor following his basketball career. He was named first-team Academic All-District VII on Jan. 31, as he carries a 3.77 GPA in microbiology.

Pitchford Provides Scoring Punch

Another one of Nebraska’s transfers, sophomore Walter Pitchford has developed into a consistent scoring option for the Huskers. The 6-foot-10 forward began his career at Florida, where he was a reserve on the Gators’ Elite Eight squad in 2011-12. This year, he has taken advantage of the new surroundings and has been productive, averaging 9.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. One of the Huskers’ best athletes with a 42-inch vertical leap, Pitchford is also one of the Huskers’ top 3-point shooters at nearly 42 percent on the season.

  • Is playing some of his best basketball of the season over the Huskers’ second-half surge, averaging 11.8 points per game on 55 percent shooting over the last 13 games. Pitchford has been in double figures 11 times in that stretch and has set season highs in points on two occasions, most recently at Michigan State on Feb. 16.
  • Performed well in NU’s win over No. 9 Wisconsin with 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting and five rebounds in the 77-68 win.
  • Sparked Nebraska’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.
  • Nearly had a double-double against Northwestern on March 1, finishing with 10 points and nine boards.
  • Enjoyed a successful homecoming at Michigan State on Feb. 16, totaling a career-high 18 points, including a season-high four 3-pointers, along with five rebounds and two steals in Nebraska's win over the No. 9 Spartans.
  • Reached double figures in scoring 16 times this year, including a then-career-high 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the four-point win over Northwestern on Feb. 8. In that game, he scored 13 second-half points, including five straight points after the Wildcats cut an eight-point lead to 44-all in the final four minutes.
  • Shined in the Big Ten opener at Iowa on Dec. 31, finishing with 13 points and a season-high 12 rebounds for his second double-double of the year. Pitchford also had eight offensive rebounds and helped NU cut a 20-point deficit to five in the second half.
  • Posted his first career double-double against Arkansas State on Dec. 14 with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Totaled an incredible 339:23 without a turnover dating back to his time at Florida before his first turnover on Jan. 9. The streak lasted 22 games dating back to his freshman year at Florida, as he was the last regular rotation player in the country without a turnover.

Finding Offensive Pace
Despite having a revamped lineup, the Huskers have been more proficient offensively, averaging nearly nine points more per game than at this point last year.

  • Last year, NU was 12th in the Big Ten in scoring offense at 58.3 points per game. This season, NU has been held under 60 points just eight times.
  • The Huskers’ tempo has vastly increased, as Nebraska was over 300th in adjusted tempo in each of the last three seasons and is now 188th coming into the NCAA Tournament.
  • Nebraska’s 8.7 points per game improvement over last season is on pace to be the Huskers’ largest scoring increase since the mid-1960s. Only five Husker teams since 1948 have had a seven-point scoring jump from one season to the next.
  • Nebraska’s 82 points against Minnesota on Jan. 26 marked the most points by the Huskers in a conference game since joining the Big Ten in 2011-12.
  • Nebraska scored 80 or more points in consecutive games against South Carolina State and UMass, the first time that has happened since the 2008-09 season.
  • Nebraska has had nine players reach double figures at least once this season. The Huskers had three games where five players reached double figures and seven others with four double-figure scorers.
  • } In two seasons under Miles, Nebraska is 26-9 when scoring over 60 points.

Record-Breaking Attendance
The move to Pinnacle Bank Arena has been a boon to Nebraska basketball, as the Husker program shattered season-ticket records in 2013-14. On May 3, all of the season tickets allotted for 2013-14 had been accounted for, as season-ticket sales were up nearly 95 percent from 2012-13. It marked the third straight season that tickets sales were up.

  • Nebraska 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 ranks 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 over the last five years. In fact, only four schools have increased their attendance by more than 3,000 fans per game in a single season, led by BYU in 2010-11 (4,685 per game increase).
  • The Huskers sold over 14,000 season tickets for its first season in the building, including 1,650 student tickets. The previous school record for season ticket sales was 12,000 set in 1992-93.
  • 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.

Gallegos Looks to Prove Less is More 
While senior guard Ray Gallegos was Nebraska’s top returning scorer heading into the season, the Huskers’ increased depth has made him a more efficient player in 2013-14.

While Gallegos is known for being a long-range shooter who can hit shots in bunches, he has been a more well-rounded player during his senior year. He is fourth on the team in scoring at 7.0 points per game while averaging 2.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. Last year, Gallegos averaged a Big Ten-high 37.5 minutes per game, including nearly 39 minutes per game in conference play, but NU’s increased depth has reduced his minutes to 28 minutes per game.

  • Ranks eighth in the Big Ten with 1.7 3-pointers per game, and has seven games this season with at least 3-pointers, most recently at Indiana on March 5. 
  • Is beginning to find his shooting touch in recent games, averaging 7.7 points per game in NU’s last three contests while shooting 41 percent from 3-point range. His 3-point midway through the second half against Wisconsin gave Nebraska a 53-52 lead it would not relenquish. He broke out of a slump at Indiana, draining consecutive 3-pointers int he second half to key an 8-2 Husker run.
  • Has already set a career high in assists on two occasions, including five assists against The Citadel on Dec. 21 and Minnesota on Jan. 23.
  • Enjoyed one of his best games of the season at Cincinnati on Dec. 28 with a season-high 18 points, including four 3-pointers, while dishing out three assists.
  • Leads the Huskers with 51 3-pointers this season and now sits in seventh place on Nebraska’s career 3-point chart with 15.
  • Opened the 2013-14 season by hitting six of 10 3-pointers in a win over South Carolina State on Nov. 17, the fifth time he has hit on at least six 3-pointers in a game.

As a junior, he connected on 83 3-pointers, a total which ranked second on Nebraska’s single-season list. It is more impressive when you consider that Gallegos made only 21 3-pointers during his first two seasons at Nebraska before redshirting in 2011-12.

  • Led the Big Ten in 3-pointers per game (2.5 per game) during the 2012-13 season. He became the first Husker basketball player to lead the Big Ten in any statistical category.
  • Connected on a career-high seven 3-pointers at Iowa on March 9, 2013, a total which is one shy of Nebraska’s single-game record.

Setting a Benchmark
For Nebraska, one of the biggest improvements has been the development of its bench this season. Nebraska is averaging 17 points per game from its bench, compared to just over seven last season. The bench has been reshaped following the dismissal of Deverell Biggs in late January.

Despite the loss of Biggs, junior Leslee Smith has been a solid force off the bench. The 6-foot-8 junior forward has been the Huskers’ most consistent performer according to Tim Miles, as he gives NU a physical post presence. Smith is averaging 5.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Smith is one of only two players from the British Virgin Islands playing Division I basketball, and grew up playing baseball as a kid before turning his attention to basketball.

  • Leads the Huskers with three double-doubles, most recently an 11-point, 10-rebound effort at No. 3 Ohio State on Jan. 4.
  • Has five games with at least 10 rebounds, as he is sixth in the Big Ten in that category. He is the only player on the list who is not a starter. He also leads all Big Ten reserves in rebounding entering this week’s action.
  • Put together a solid effort at Illinois on Feb. 26 with nine points on 4-of-4 shooting and four rebounds in 13 minutes of work.
  • Totaled four points and five rebounds in the March 5 win at Indiana to sweep the season series.
  • Is tied for the team lead in steals (27) and is second in blocked shots (19) while averaging less than 18 minutes per contest. Smith is bidding to become the first Husker to lead Nebraska in both steals and blocked shots in the same season.

Sophomore Benny Parker has been in the lineup all 31 games this year and has a 2.2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio as NU’s backup point guard. The 5-foot-9 guard is a pest on the defensive end, averaging nearly one steal per game and has taken many of the minutes that Biggs played.

  • Over the last 13 games, Parker is averaging 3.7 points on 57 percent shooting, 1.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game in 18 minutes per game, a big reason why the Huskers are 10-3 in that span.
  • He keyed NU’s win over Northwestern on March 1 with seven points and two rebounds while his charge in the final minute preserved the Huskers win.
  • Parker had eight points - his highest total since the season opener - three steals to help the Huskers to a 70-60 win at Indiana on March 5, and had four points, two assists and two steals while playing a season-high 31 minutes in the win over No. 9 Wisconsin on March 9.
  • Parker had a career-high nine points in the opener and two steals against Florida Gulf Coast.

Junior David Rivers is NU’s other primary post player, as he averages 3.0 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. Rivers, who started during conference play last season, had a season-high 10 points against UMass on Nov. 21. He matched his career high with seven rebounds against Illinois on Feb 12. He moved back into the starting lineup on Feb. 16 and started six of the last seven games (all but Senior Night). Over the last eight games, he averages 5.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game while shooting 54 percent from the field. Rivers had eight points and three rebounds against Illinois on Feb. 26 and seven points, six boards and three blocks against Purdue on Feb. 23. He shined during the Huskers’ Big Ten Tournament loss to Ohio State with eight points and a career-high nine rebounds.

The other player who has gained playing time in the wake of Biggs’ dismissal is Nathan Hawkins. He has played in 15 games and is averaging 1.5 points and 1.0 rebounds per game. His best effort of the year came against No. 10 Michigan on Feb. 5, and had 11 points, including a trio of 3-pointers, in 20 minutes of work.

  • On the season, Nebraska has received 17 double-figure games from its bench, including seven from Deverell Biggs and five from Leslee Smith.
  • Against South Carolina State, Nebraska’s bench combined for 51 of the 83 points, making the fifth time in the last decade NU has received at least 50 points from its bench.

Huskers vs. Ranked Teams
Nebraska will face its eighth ranked team on Friday when the Huskers take on No. 23 Baylor. NU finished the regular season with a 3-4 mark against ranked teams following the loss to No. 24 Ohio State in the Big Ten quarterfinals. The Huskers snapped a 15-game losing streak to ranked foes on Jan. 20, against Ohio State and now have won three of their last four vs. ranked opponents.

  • Nebraska is 62-235 all-time against ranked teams and has knocked off at least one ranked team in 12 of the past 14 seasons (all but 2010-11 & 2012-13).
  • Nebraska snapped a 15-game losing streak against ranked foes on Jan. 20 with a 68-62 win over Ohio State.
  • Nebraska knocked off a pair of top-10 teams for the first time since the 1993-94 season.

A Historic Win
Nebraska’s 60-51 win at No. 9 Michigan State on Feb. 16 was one of the Huskers’ best road wins in recent history.

  • The win marked just the fourth win over a top-10 opponent outside Lincoln and the first since 1997. NU also snapped a 29-game losing streak against top-10 teams away from Lincoln.
  • Nebraska snapped a 21-game losing streak to ranked teams on the road, dating back to a 65-59 win at No. 22 Texas A&M and Feb.23, 2008. It also ended a 24-game streak against ranked teams outside of Lincoln.
  • NU picked up its first Big Ten win against Michigan State, snapping a four-game losing streak to the Spartans. Nebraska’s only other win was an 86-81 overtime win over No. 15 Michigan State on Dec. 18, 1993.
  • The win was the second road win against a top-10 team for Nebraska Coach Tim Miles, as his North Dakota State team topped eighth-ranked Marquette on Dec. 3, 2006.

Value the Basketball
Under Tim Miles, one major emphasis is taking care of the basketball, and the Huskers were among the nation’s best in that category in 2012-13. Nebraska finished 10th nationally with 10.7 turnovers per game - nearly three fewer than 2011-12. NU’s turnovers per game were the fewest in school history, bettering the 11.30 per game in 1984-85.

This season, the Huskers have also been among the national leaders in that category, ranking 51st nationally with 10.9 turnovers per game. NU has averaged 8.0 turnovers per game over the last three games, including just five against Wisconsin on March 9. 

 

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