The Nebraska men’s basketball team returns home for one of its biggest tests of the season, as the Huskers host No. 4/3 (AP/Coaches) Maryland on Wednesday.
Tipoff from Pinnacle Bank Arena is set for 7:30 p.m. (central) and a limited number of tickets are available by visiting Huskers.com, calling 800-8-BIGRED or at the Pinnacle Bank Arena box office Wednesday evening beginning at 6 p.m.
The contest between the Huskers and Terrapins will be televised nationally on BTN with Kevin Kugler and Jon Crispin on the call. The contest will also be available on BTN2Go on laptops, tablets and mobile devices.
Wednesday’s contest will also air across the state of Nebraska on the Husker Sports Network with Kent Pavelka and Matt Davison on the call, including KLIN 1400 AM in Lincoln, KXSP 590 AM in Omaha and KRVN 880 in Lexington and is also available on Huskers.com and the Huskers App.
The Huskers (12-10, 4-5 Big Ten) look to snap a two-game losing streak following an 89-74 loss at No. 21 Purdue on Saturday. Andrew White III led four Huskers in double figures with 18 points and six rebounds, but the Huskers could not overcome a career day from Purdue’s A.J. Hammons. The Purdue senior had a career-high 32 points and 11 rebounds, as the Boilermakers shot 59 percent from the field.
Nebraska has been one of the most efficient offensive teams in Big Ten action, leading the Big Ten in field goal percentage (.487) while four players are averaging double figures in conference play. While White and Shavon Shields have been consistent performers, the emergence of junior Tai Webster (11.7 ppg on 55 percent shooting) and freshman Glynn Watson Jr. (10 .1 ppg) has bolstered NU’s offense over the last month.
Maryland (19-3, 8-2 Big Ten) is hot on the heels of Big Ten leaders Iowa and Indiana following a 66-61 win at Ohio State on Sunday. Melo Trimble’s 20 points led four Terrapins in double figures, as Maryland held the Buckeyes to 35 percent shooting and enjoyed a 41-35 advantage on the glass.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
1 - Tai Webster is the only Big Ten player averaging double figures in Big Ten play while not making a start in conference play. Webster is averaging 11.7 ppg in Big Ten action and had 17 points at No. 21 Purdue.
4 - Maryland is the highest ranked team to face the Huskers since the Huskers knocked off No. 3/2 Texas, 70-67, on Feb. 19, 2011. In that game, Brandon Richardson (right) had 15 points to pace four Huskers in double figures.
5 - Five of NU’s 10 losses have been to ranked teams, including a pair of the teams in this week’s top five (No. 3 Villanova, No. 5 Iowa). In addition, NU beat Michigan State, which is 10th this week.
18.5- Shavon Shields led NU with an average of 18.5 ppg on 54 percent shooting in six games against ranked teams. His season high of 28 points came against No. 21 Miami (Dec. 1) and at No. 11 Michigan State (Jan. 20).
12.6 - Nebraska’s scoring average is 12.6 points higher than last year’s total. It is on pace to be the largest single-season increase in school history.
Maryland comes into Wednesday’s game with a 19-3 record and a No. 4 national ranking in Monday’s AP poll. The Terrapins are 8-2 in the Big Ten and one game out of first place following wins over No. 3 Iowa and Ohio State last week. Maryland returned three starters from a team that won 27 games and reached the third round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Maryland has three losses, coming at the hands of top-10 teams North Carolina and Michigan State as well as a 3-point loss at Michigan.
Maryland Head Coach Mark Turgeon is a familiar face for long-time Husker fans, as he played at Kansas from 1984 to 1987 for Larry Brown and also served as an assistant at KU from 1987 to 1992. He served as a head coach at Jacksonville State, Wichita State and Texas A&M before taking the Maryland job prior to the 2011-12 season.
Maryland is one of the most efficient teams in the country, averaging 76.8 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field. All five starters average in double figures, including a team-high 14.5 ppg and 5.4 apg from Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year Melo Trimble. A pair of ACC transfers and one of the Big Ten’s top freshmen have given Maryland one of the top starting lineups in the country. Robert Carter (13.2 pgg, 6.9 rpg) and Rasheed Sulaimon (10.5 ppg on 47.7 percent shooting from 3-point range) have given the Terrapins a pair of veteran scorers, while freshman center Diamond Stone is averaging 12.8 ppg on 57 percent shooting from the field.
Wednesday’s meeting with Maryland is the third ever meeting between two teams. Maryland won both meetings last year, a 69-65 win in College Park on Feb. 18, and a 64-61 victory in Lincoln on March 8. The Huskers do have some history with Mark Turgeon, going 2-3 against him when he served as head coach at Texas A&M from 2007-08 to 2010-11. Both of NU’s wins came over a ranked Texas A&M team including a 65-59 win over the No. 22 Aggies in College Station in 2008 and a 57-48 victory in Lincoln over No. 13 Texas A&M in 2011.
LAST SEASON’S MEETINGS
Maryland 69, Nebraska 65 (Feb. 18): Nebraska pushed No. 15 Maryland to the limit and had a chance to tie the game in the final 30 seconds, but the Terrapins held on for a 69-65 victory in College Park. Trailing 65-62 with 28.9 seconds left after Walter Pitchford’s fifth 3-pointer of the night, the Huskers called timeout to set up a full court press. Benny Parker then stole the inbounds pass, but a turnover gave the ball back to Maryland. Melo Trimble then capped a 26-point night with a pair of free throws with 21 seconds left, as he went 10-of-11 from the line to help Maryland hit 21-of-24 from the line. Trimble carried Maryland to victory with 26 points on 7-of-9 shooting, six rebounds and five assists to pace three Terrapins in double figures. The win offset a strong effort from a pair of Husker reserves, as Walter Pitchford and Nick Fuller turned in strong performances in a losing effort. Pitchford came off the bench with 19 points, including five 3-pointers, and seven rebounds, while Fuller set season bests with 12 points and five boards.
Maryland 64, Nebraska 61 (March 8): Shavon Shields’ game-tying 3-pointer in the final seconds was just off the mark, as Nebraska fell to No. 10 Maryland, 64-61, in front of a sellout crowd of 15,856 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Huskers had the ball down three with 8.8 seconds left, and were trying to run a play for Terran Petteway, but Petteway was double teamed and found Shields open in the corner, but Shields was unable to convert, giving Maryland a hard-fought 3-point win. Shields scored 18 of his game-high 26 points in the second stanza while adding six rebounds and a career-high four steals. Petteway also joined Shields in double figures with 19 points and 10 rebounds for Nebraska. Melo Trimble led Maryland with 21 points, while Dez Wells added 18 points, including a clutch jumper with 8.8 seconds left, and 12 rebounds.
LAST TIME OUT
Andrew White III led four Huskers in double figures, but Purdue’s inside game was too much, as the No. 21 Boilermarkers topped Nebraska, 89-74, at Mackey Arena Saturday afternoon.
A.J. Hammons led Purdue with 32 points on 14-of-17 shooting while adding 11 rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots, as the Boilermakers shot 59 percent en route to improving to 19-4 on the season and 7-3 in the Big Ten.
Raphael Davis added 17 points, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, while Isaac Haas added 13 point off the bench, as the two Purdue centers combined for 45 of Purdue’s 89 points.
White led NU with 18 points and a team-high six rebounds, while Tai Webster added 17 points and three steals. Shavon Shields finished with 16 points, including 13 in the second half, while Glynn Watson Jr. added 11 points for Nebraska.
Maryland’s visit is the second by a ranked team this season. NU lost to then-No. 21 Miami, 77-72 in overtime on Dec. 1 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Nebaska has 10 home wins against teams ranked in the AP top five in school history, the last coming in the 2011 win against No. 3 Texas. The only time NU has faced a top-five team at home in the Big Ten era was fifth-ranked Wisconsin last season.
Eight of the Huskers’ 10 losses have come to teams currently rated in the top 50 in the KenPom rankings, including four to teams in the top 20.
Nebraska’s 74.8 ppg in Big Ten play is not only a 17-point improvement on NU’s conference scoring average (57.1 ppg), but is the first time NU has averaged at least 70 points in conference action since the 2001-02 campaign.
The Huskers have been much better handling the basketball in Big Ten play. In conference action, NU is third in the Big Ten with 10.0 turnovers per game. In non-conference action, NU averaged 14.5 turnovers per game.
Nebraska has scored 70+ points in six of its nine Big Ten games in 2015-16, which already matched the most 70+ point games since joining the Big Ten (also 2013-14).
One of the biggest difference between the Huskers’ wins and losses in Big Ten play has been defending the 3-point line. In the Huskers’ four wins, opponents are shooting 30 percent from long distance, while that number jumps to 48 percent in the Huskers’ five Big Ten losses.
Since moving Glynn Watson Jr. into the starting lineup and shortening the rotation on Dec. 22, Nebraska has been efficient, averaging 75.4 ppg while shooting 49.0 percent from the floor. Watson has flourished as well, averaging 9.3 points and 1.4 steals per game.
Glynn Watson Jr. has been one of the Big Ten’s best newcomers at point guard this season. The Bellwood, Ill., product is averaging 8.5 ppg and 2.5 apg while his 2.62 assist-to-turnover ratio is the best by a Husker since Jamar Johnson had a 2.73 assist-to-turnover ratio in 1993-94.
Huskers with 2.5 Assist-to-Turnover Ratio Since 1993
Glynn Watson Jr.
Charles Richadson Jr.
minimum 2 assists/gm
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon has several ties to Lincoln. His father, Bob, currently lives in Lincoln while his niece is Maddie Simon, who plays for the Husker women’s basketball team.
Nebraska is one of three programs in the nation (joining Florida State and Tulsa) with multiple players averaging at least 15.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game, as both Andrew White and Shavon Shields have reached that plateau. Entering the week, only 65 players in Division I have reached those averages.
Despite getting out-rebounded in the last three games, including the top-two teams in the country in rebounding margin (No. 1 MSU, No. 2 Purdue), NU is sixth in the conference in rebounding margin aat +4.3 per game. NU has not finished with a positive rebounding margin since joining the Big Ten in 2011-12. Last month, NU enjoyed a three-game stretch where the Huskers out-rebounded its opponents by double figures, the first time NU has done that in conference play in more than 35 years.
Much of Nebraska’s inconsistency can be attributed to youth, as freshmen account for 37 percent of the Huskers’ minutes in 2015-16. The 37 percent is the most in the Big Ten. In conference action, the number jumps to 40.4 percent of the Huskers’ total playing time and 33 percent of NU’s offense.
Nebraska's 3-point shooting has jumped from 28.4 percent to 35.6 percent this season, which is on track to be the second-highest increase for the Huskers since the 3-point line was instituted in the 1986-87 season. NU jumped from 27.6 percent to 38.9 percent between the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons.
LEGENDS WEEKEND SET FOR SATURDAY
The Huskers will have their fourth-annual Legends Weekend Saturday, as the Huskers play host to Rutgers. The 1990-91 team will be honored, as the team won a school-record 26 games and were ranked as high as 11th in the country. Several members of the team are expected to be back for Saturday’s game, and the Huskers will wear a special throwback uniform to celebrate that season. In addition, the first 500 students in the Red Zone will receive a special gameday shirt.
WHITE IN RARE B1G COMPANY
Junior guard Andrew White III is one of only 15 players in the country averaging at least 15 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 75 percent from the foul line entering this week’s action. More impressively, only four Big Ten players have finished the season with those marks over the last 20 seasons.
Andrew White III
During the month of January, the Huskers have hit several milestones after snapping an 11-game conference losing streak on Jan. 9.
The 34-point win at Rutgers on Jan. 9, marked the Huskers’ largest road win in conference play and the Huskers’ largest margin of victory in a road game since 1920.
Nebraska's 20+ victories over Rutgers and Minnesota marked the first time since 1971 that NU won consecutive conference games by at least 20 points. Against Minnesota, NU led by 38 with seven minutes left before clearing the bench.
The win at Illinois on Jan. 16 was the Huskers’ first in Champaign since 1921, ending a nine-game losing streak there.
Nebraska’s win at No. 11 Michigan State on Jan. 20 snapped a 10-game losing streak to ranked foes dating back to 2014.
With the departure of three starters who played professionally, including Terran Petteway, who is with Fort Wayne in the NBA D-League, the biggest question entering the season was about the Huskers’ offensive production.
NU’s offense has been efficient, as NU’s average of 74.1 points per game entering Wednesday’s game with Maryland is its highest total after 22 games since the 1996-97 season.
At this pace, it would be Nebraska’s highest scoring average since the 1995-96 team averaged 80.2 points per game. Since 2000, only the 2003-04 (70.5 ppg) and 2000-01 (71.1 ppg) teams have eclipsed the 70-points per game mark.
Nebraska’s scoring increase of 12.6 ppg is the second-highest increase in the Big Ten this season.
In Big Ten play, Nebraska leads the conference in field goal percentage (.491) and is fifth in scoring offense (74.8 ppg).
Ten Huskers have reached double figures at least once, while three players (Shields, Webster and White) have also recorded multiple 20-point efforts. It marks the first time in 10 years that NU had three players with multiple 20-point games.
Nebraska has three 90-point games and three others with at least 80 points.
The biggest improvement has come from the 3-point line, as the Huskers were 340th in that category last season (.284) and are 139th (.355) entering the Maryland game.
Five of Nebraska’s top-eight scorers are in their first year of competition as a Husker, as newcomers have accounted for 54 percent of NU’s total offense.
Five of NU’s newcomers have already posted double-digit efforts, including 18 by Andrew White III and 10 by Glynn Watson Jr.
AW3 IS ON A ROLL
Junior Andrew White III has become one of the Big Ten’s top newcomers in 2015-16. The 6-foot-7 wing is fifth in the Big Ten in scoring at 17.0 points per game. He is also 14th in rebounding (6.0 rpg), pacing the Huskers in scoring and rebounding.
White is one of the Big Ten’s top 3-point shooters, ranking fourth in 3-pointers per game (2.6) while shooting 42.5 percent from long range.
White has been in double figures in 18 of NU’s 22 games, including six 20-point efforts.
He has three double-doubles on the year, posting them against Creighton (28 points and 10 rebounds), Samford (17 points and 11 rebounds) and at Illinois (21 points and 13 rebounds).
White recorded his first career 30-point effort against Abilene Christian on Dec. 5, finishing with 30 points, including 14-of-16 from the foul line, seven rebounds and four steals.
White looks to continue a trend of high-impact transfers under Miles who have gone on to first-team all-conference honors, including Terran Petteway (2014) at NU and Andy Ogide (2011) and Wes Eikmeier (2012) during Miles’ tenure at Colorado State. White was ranked as one of 20 Impact Transfers by Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports prior to the start of the season.
SHIELDS CLIMBS TO TOP 10
One of the most efficient players in school history, senior Shavon Shields has a chance to finish his career on NU’s top-10 list in both points and rebounds. The 6-foot-7 forward has 1,475 points and will move into sole possesion of 10th place on NU’s career scoring list with his first point on Wednesday. Shields is also 15th in career rebounds (624) and could jump a couple of spots on that list on Tuesday.
On the season, the 6-foot-7 senior is averaging 15.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Shields ranks eighth in the Big Ten in scoring and ninth in steals, and is first or second on the team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals.
Shields is one of only 20 players nationally averaging 15.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.75 apg and 1.0 spg, a list that also features Kris Dunn of Providence, Denzel Valentine of Michigan State, Ben Simmons of LSU, Malcolm Hill of Illinois and Gary Payton III of Oregon State. No Husker has finished the year with those numbers since Cookie Belcher in 2000-01.
Shields willed the Huskers to a win at No. 11 Michigan State, finishing with a season-high 28 points on 12-of-20 shooting.
He has reached double figures in a team-high 19 games, including a 28-point, five-rebound effort against No. 21 Miami on Dec. 1 and a 28-point effort at No. 11 Michigan State on Jan. 20
Against Minnesota on Jan. 12, Shields became just the seventh Husker to score 1,400 points and grab 600 rebounds as a Husker, as he celebrated his 100th consecutive start with 24 points and a season-high eight rebounds.
Shields has 74 career games in double figures, including 20 career 20-point performances and a pair of 30-point efforts. He scored a career-high 35 against Omaha (11/25/14) and had 33 points against Illinois (2/14/14) and is one of just 14 players in school history with multiple 30-point games.
Shields is just the second player in school history to be a three-year captain and is a returning first-team Academic All-American. In 2014, he was also one of 16 national finalists across all of Division I athletics for the 2014 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award.
As a junior, he may have been one of the most underrated players in the Big Ten, as the 6-foot-7 wing averaged 15.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. He led NU in rebounding for the second straight year and was second on the team in both scoring and assists. He ranked among the Big Ten leaders in scoring (ninth), rebounding (14th) and free throw percentage (.827, fifth).
Shields was one of only three players from a power conference to average 15.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in 2014-15, joining National Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin) and Tyrone Wallace (Cal).
Shavon is also a nominee for the Senior Class Award and the NABC Good Works Team and is active in the community. That should be no surprise as his father, Will, is a former NFL Man of the Year for his efforts in the Kansas City Community. The elder Shields was enshrined into the NFL Hall of Fame last August and was already a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
DURABILITY IS SHIELDS’ STANDARD
Shavon Shields joined an exclusive club for Nebraska on Jan. 12, as he started his 100th consecutive game against Minnesota. He joined Dave Hoppen as the only Huskers to reach that plateau, as Hoppen started all 111 games of his career before suffering a knee injury late in his senior year.
Shields became the sixth Husker basketball player to start 100 career games, and is fourth all time at Nebraska with 104 career starts.
Shields’ father, Will, started a Kansas City Chiefs’ franchise record 223 straight games in his career, a streak which is the fifth-longest in NFL history.
TAI’S TAKING CHARGE
Tai Webster has blossomed into one of the Big Ten’s most improved players in 2015-16. Webster, who averaged 3.9 points and 2.0 rebounds per game in his first two seasons, has emerged into one of the Big Ten’s best sixth men as a junior. Webster is averaging 10.3 points and 4.0 rebounds per game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range.
Webster has been in double figures 12 times in his last 19 games after reaching it a total of seven times in his first 65 games at Nebraska.
He has been effective as a scoring guard off the bench, averaging 11.5 points per game on 56 percent shooting over the last 10 games, adding an experienced scorer to the Huskers’ second unit. He has reached double figures seven times in NU’s last 10 contests, including 17 points at No. 21 Purdue on Jan. 30.
Webster had a career high five steals - the most by a Husker since 2012 - along with 12 points and five rebounds vs. Michigan on Jan. 24.
His contributions against No. 11 Michigan State were vital, finishing with 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists, keeping NU in the game late in the first half while Shavon Shields and Andrew White III were out of the game.
Webster provided a spark in NU's win at Illinois, finishing with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting and six rebounds.
He collected his second 20-point game of the year at No. 19 Iowa on Jan. 5, finishing with a career-high 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting and five rebounds.
Webster earned all-tournament honors at the Barclays Center Classic in November, averaging 19.5 points on 56 percent shooting and 5.0 rebounds per game against No. 24 Cincinnati and Tennessee.
He enjoyed his breakout performance in the loss to No. 24 Cincinnati on Nov. 27, posting a then-career highs in points (21) and rebounds (eight) while battling a stomach virus that kept him out of shootaround earlier that day. One day later against Tennessee, he added 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting against Tennessee.
With only five returning players who saw time for the Huskers last year, Nebraska is one of the youngest teams in the country in 2015-16. Nebraska’s 10 newcomers, which includes Andrew White III, who did not play last year, ties for third most nationally. The Huskers also have seven freshmen, which ties for fourth nationally. Of the nine programs with seven or more freshmen in 2015-16, three (Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin) are in the Big Ten.
A LOOK AT THE FRESHMEN
Nebraska’s freshman class has provided an early impact for the Big Red. The class has accounted for more than 30 percent of Nebraska’s point production on the season, including 33 percent in Big Ten action. Glynn Watson Jr., Jack McVeigh, Ed Morrow Jr. and Michael Jacobson have played in all 22 games, while Bakari Evelyn has appeared in 12 contests.
Watson has seen time at both guard spots, averaging 8.4 points and 2.5 assists per game while posting a team-best 2.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He leads the team with 28 steals, moving into NU’s top-10 freshman list in late January.
Watson ranks third among all Big Ten freshmen in both assists and steals entering this week’s action.
He has been in double figures 10 times, including a season-high 17 points against Rhode Island (Dec. 13) and at Illinois (Jan. 16). Against Rhode Island, he scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half to rally the Huskers from an 11-point deficit.
Over the last six games, Watson is averaging 12.7 points, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He is shooting 53 percent from the floor and 89 percent from the foul line.
Jacobson, who missed nearly two months of preseason practice with a foot injury, has averaged 3.9 points and 3.5 rebounds in just 15.8 minutes per outing. He had 11 points and seven rebounds against Southeastern Louisiana and totaled a season-best eight caroms against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and at No. 11 Michigan State.
He matched his season high with 11 points against Rhode Island on Dec. 9 and had nine points, five rebounds and a season-high three blocked shots against Minnesota on Jan. 12.
McVeigh has been one of the primary scorers for the second unit, averaging 5.2 points and 3.0 rebounds per game. He is second on the team with 21 3-pointers while shooting 33 percent from long range.
He had his best game of the year, totaling 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting and six rebounds against Indiana on Jan. 2, tying or setting personal bests in points and rebounds.
McVeigh played a key role in NU’s win at No. 11 Michigan State on Jan. 20, hitting a pair of 3-pointers in a 13-0 second half run that turned a 56-51 defict into an eight point lead. He finished with eight points and a season-high six rebounds.
McVeigh made a quick first impression, coming off the bench for 16 points, including 4-of-4 from 3-point range, in just 13 minutes of action against MVSU. His 16-point effort was the highest total by a true freshman since Joe McCray had 23 points in his collegiate debut in 2004 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Ed Morrow Jr. has become NU’s first post player off the bench and averages 3.6 points on 60 percent shooting and 3.5 rebounds per game while playing 14.1 minutes per outing. Morrow leads the team in both field goal percentage and blocked shots (15).
Morrow has provided a strong rebounder in his limited action, totaling four or more rebounds 11 times, including six boards in the loss at Michigan.
Over the last six games, Morrow has been playing some of his best basketball, averaging 5.2 ppg on 71 percent shooting and 3.8 rebounds per game. He had one of his best games of the year at Illinois on Jan. 16, finishing with six points and a season-high six rebounds while playing a season-high 28 minutes and totaled six points and six boards against Michigan on Jan. 23.
Morrow had a season-high 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting against Southeastern Louisiana and reached double figures against Rutgers on Jan. 10 with 10 points and three rebounds.