After playing its last two games on the road, the Nebraska men’s basketball team returns home on Saturday, as the Huskers play host to Iowa at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Tipoff at a sold out Pinnacle Bank Arena is set for 7 p.m., and any returned tickets will go on sale at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the PBA ticket office.
Saturday’s tilt between the Huskers and Hawkeyes will be televised nationally on BTN with Cory Provus and Jon Crispin on the call. The game is available on BTN.com, BTN2Go and the Fox Sports Go app.
Fans can follow all of the action across the state of Nebraska on the IMG Husker Sports Network with Kent Pavelka and Jake Muhleisen on the call. The game will also be available on Huskers.com, on the Huskers app, on TuneIn Radio and on the TuneIn Radio app. The radio broadcast begins one hour prior to tipoff.
Nebraska (15-8, 6-4 Big Ten) returns home looking to improve its place in the conference race following a 60-54 win at Rutgers on Wednesday evening. Isaac Copeland’s 23 points led three Huskers in double figures, as Nebraska used a 10-0 surge early in the second half to build a nine-point lead and hold on down the stretch. Copeland put together his fourth 20-point game of the year, hitting 9-of-15 shots from the field while adding seven rebounds and a pair of blocks.
Nebraska also continued its string of strong defensive efforts, holding the Scarlet Knights to their second-lowest offensive total at home on just 34 percent shooting. NU has held its last five foes to a combined 39 percent shooting.
As part of the NABC Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers weekend, the Huskers will be raising awareness for the National Bone Marrow Registry. Avery Harriman, the son of former Husker assistant coach Chris Harriman, has battled leukemia since he was 2-years old and has had two bone marrow transplants. Now 10-years old, Avery and with other local children fighting cancer will be recognized on Saturday.
Fans will have a chance to join the National Bone Marrow Registry as volunteers will be on hand to sign fans up. Over the past four years, nearly 700 people have signed up for the registry during the #AveryStrong game, including four matches for people waiting for bone marrow transplants.
Iowa is 11-11 on the season following an 85-67 win over Wisconsin on Tuesday evening. The Hawkeyes will provide a test for the Husker defense, as Iowa is third in the Big Ten in scoring at 80.5 points per game.
.625 – Isaiah Roby’s shooting percentage since moving into the starting lineup four games ago. Roby is averaging 8.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 2.0 steals per game in that stretch.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
1.19 – Nebraska’s assist-to-turnover ratio which is on pace to be one of NU’s best in more than 20 years. In fact, the last time Nebraska had more assists than turnovers was in 2009-10. Nebraska had 10 or fewer turnovers in its last four games before the streak was snapped Wednesday at Rutgers.
19.8 – Scoring average for James Palmer Jr. during January, as he has scored 18 or more points in seven of eight games this month. He had a career-high 34 at Ohio State on Monday.
70 – Nebraska is 12-2 when scoring 70 or more points and 4-6 when held to under 70 points. Nebraska’s only two losses when scoring 70+ points was a one-point loss to Kansas and a two-point OT loss at Penn State.
130 – Nebraska’s 130 blocked shots ranks 10th in school history and is the most since the 2005-06 season, when NU also had 130 blocked shots. Last season, NU blocked 116 shots.
Iowa is 11-11 on the season and comes off arguably its most impressive performance of the season, an 85-67 win over Wisconsin on Tuesday evening. In that game, the Hawkeyes got 17 points apiece from Tyler Cook and Luke Garza, who also grabbed 16 rebounds, as Iowa put five players in double figures.
The Hawkeyes have been up and down this season. Iowa went 4-6 in their first 10 games before closing non-conference play with five straight wins. Iowa then lost five of six with the only win being a 104-97 win at Illinois, as the Hawkeyes overcame a 20-point deficit before Tuesday’s win over the Badgers. Under Fran McCaffery, Iowa returned four starters and 12 letterwinners from a team that won 18 games and reached the NIT. Iowa is third in the Big Ten in scoring offense (80.5 ppg), fourth in 3-point percentage (.377) and fifth in field goal percentage (.478), but is last in scoring defense at 76.4 points per game.
The Hawkeyes have a young lineup with four freshmen or sophomores in the lineup. Tyler Cook leads Iowa in scoring at 14.6 points per game to pace four Hawkeyes in double figures. Sophomore Jordan Bohannon is at 13.3 points per game and is among the Big Ten leaders in assists (5.1) and 3-pointers (59). Freshman Luka Garza has been an impact newcomer, averaging 11.2 points and a team-high 6.8 caroms per contest.
The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series, 19-10 in a series that dates back to 1907. It is NU’s third-oldest series against a Big Ten foe, as only NU’s series with Minnesota and Wisconsin have been around longer. The teams had not met since 1976 before NU joined the Big Ten in 2011-12. Nebraska is 3-7 against the Hawkeyes since joining the Big Ten. NU won two of the first three meetings, including a 64-60 Husker victory where NU overcame a 19-point deficit, before Iowa won five straight. The two teams split their 2016-17 meetings, including a double OT win in Lincoln.
LAST MEETING VS. IOWA
Jack McVeigh’s 16 points led three Huskers in double figures, but Iowa made the plays down the stretch to earn an 81-70 win in Iowa City on Feb. 5, 2017.
Nebraska cut an eight-point deficit to 67-64 after a 3-point play from Evan Taylor with 3:57 left, but would get no closer, as Iowa used a 9-2 run to pull away, capped by a 3-pointer from Brady Ellington that made it 76-66 with 1:23 remaining.
Ellington had 11 off the bench for Iowa, as the Hawkeyes (14-10, 6-5) placed four in double figures.
McVeigh scored 11 of his 16 in the first half, while Tai Webster and Jordy Tshimanga added 14 and 10, respectively. Webster’s 14 points put him over 1,000 career points, as the senior added six rebounds and six assists. Tshimanga, plagued by foul problems, had 10 points and eight rebounds in just 17 minutes before fouling out.
Jordan Bohannon led Iowa with 15 points, including four 3-pointers, as Iowa went 9-of-19 from 3-point range, compared to 3-of-20 for the Huskers.
LAST TIME OUT
Isaac Copeland’s 23 points led three Huskers in double figures while Glynn Watson Jr. made a trio of big plays in the final three minutes, as Nebraska picked up a crucial 60-54 win at Rutgers Wednesday evening.
Copeland hit 9-of-15 shots from the field, including a trio of 3-pointers, for a game-high 23 points while adding seven rebounds and two blocked shots as Nebraska improved to 15-8 on the season and 6-4 in the Big Ten.
While Copeland and James Palmer Jr., who finished with 18 points, six rebounds and four assists keyed a decisive second-half run, Watson hit two big baskets after the Scarlet Knights trimmed the Husker lead to two points.
Leading 50-48, Watson hit a circus shot to stretch NU’s lead to four. Rutgers (12-10, 2-7 Big Ten) whittled the lead back to 54-52 after a Candido Sa basket with 1:16 left and NU missed a 3-point attempt, but Copeland’s offensive rebound kept possession for the Huskers. NU would take advantage, as Watson’s driving layup gave the Huskers a 56-52 lead. On Rutgers’ next possession, Watson drew a charge off Corey Sanders to give the Huskers the ball. Nebraska salted the game at the line, as Palmer went 4-of-4 from the charity stripe to give NU its second road win of the season.
Watson finished with 10 points, four rebounds and three assists, as Nebraska shot 39.6 percent but went 13-of-16 from the foul line and limited Rutgers to just 33.8 percent shooting.
*-Saturday’s game is the fifth-annual #AveryStrong game where the Huskers have used Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers Week to promote raising awareness for the National Bone Marrow Registry. Over the last four years, nearly 700 people have signed up for the National Bone Marrow Registry. On Saturday, the first 1,000 will receive Husker bowties. For more on the National Bone Marrow Registry, visit Bethematch.org.
*-Nebraska is in the midst of playing four games in eight days, including three games on the road (at OSU, at Rutgers, at Wisconsin). Saturday’s game is the only home contest in a 22-day stretch, as the Huskers are in the middle of a stretch where they play four of five games on the road.
*-Nebraska is one of 19 Division I programs – including 10 from power conferences – as of Wednesday’s games to have both its men’s and women’s teams win at least 15 games this season. Of those 19 programs, Nebraska was the only one with a losing record in both men’s and women’s basketball in 2016-17.
*-NU comes into Saturday’s game with a 15-8 record, eclipsing its best 23-game start in the Big Ten era. The 15-8 mark matches the Huskers’ best 23-game mark in over 20 years, as NU has been 15-8 after 23 games on four other occasions (2010-11, 2008-09, 2005-06, 1998-99) in that span. The last time NU had a better 23-game mark came in the 1994-95 season when the Huskers were 16-7 at the 23-game mark.
*-Nebraska is 11-1 in home games this season with the only loss coming in a one-point setback against No. 13 Kansas on Dec. 16. The 11 home wins is already NU’s highest total since going 15-1 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in the 2013-14 campaign.
*-Of Nebraska’s last five losses dating back to Dec. 9, NU lost twice in the last 30 seconds (vs. No. 13 Kansas, at PSU) and had two others where NU was within a point in the last four minutes (at Creighton, at No. 13 OSU).
*-James Palmer Jr. enjoyed one of the most prolific scoring performances in school history at No. 13 Ohio State on Monday with his 34-point effort against the Buckeyes. Not only was it the highest-scoring game in Big Ten Conference action this season, but it marked the second-highest scoring effort in a road game in school history and the most on the road by a Husker since 2006.
*-Palmer has shown the ability to get to the foul line, as he ranks third in the Big Ten with 142 attempts through Wednesday’s games. Among conference guards, he is second only to Maryland’s Anthony Cowan (149) in getting to the foul line this season.
*-Nebraska’s defense has been its calling card in Big Ten action. The Huskers are second in field goal defense (.387) and held their last nine opponents to under 45 percent shooting. On Monday, the Huskers limited No. 13 Ohio State to its lowest scoring total and second-lowest shooting total in Big Ten action while holding Rutgers to .338 shooting on Wednesday.
*-While Nebraska is 10th in the Big Ten in scoring defense at 68.5 points per game, a closer look shows that Nebraska already played four teams that are in the top 25 nationally in scoring offense (Michigan State, Purdue, Creighton, Kansas). NU held three of the four teams at least 10 points below their scoring average.
*-The Huskers are averaging 72.2 points per game and is on track for one of the best offensive seasons in recent years. NU’s 72.8 points per game marks only the sixth time in the last 22 years that NU has averaged at least 73.0 points per game through the first 23 games. The Huskers are 12-2 this year when scoring at least 70 points, including six games of at least 80 points (6-0).
*-Nebraska’s biggest offensive strength has been a balanced attack with three players averaging double figures, led by James Palmer Jr., who averages a team-high 16.7 points per game to lead all Big Ten newcomers in scoring. Palmer is currently on track to enjoy one of the top first-year seasons in school history, as the top three first-year scorers have been in Tim Miles’ six seasons at Nebraska.
*-Nebraska relies on a pair of transfers in James Palmer Jr. (Miami) and Isaac Copeland (Georgetown), as the duo combines for more than 29 points per game. In all, 47.3 percent of the Huskers’ offense this year has been by players in their first year in the program.
Palmer has reached double figures 21 times, including a season-high 34 points at No. 13 Ohio State on Jan. 22, and is third in assists (2.5 apg). Copeland leads the Huskers in rebounding at 6.3 per game and is second in both scoring (12.6, second) and blocked shots (268, second). He posted his first double-double of the season at Creighton on Dec. 9 with 20 points and 11 rebounds and had 23 points in Wednesday’s win over Rutgers.
*-Junior Glynn Watson Jr. is in his third season guiding the Husker offense and is among NU’s leaders in both scoring (11.2 ppg, third), assists (3.1, first) and steals (1.6, first). The 6-foot guard will make his team-high 69th career start on Saturday and has a 2.1-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio this season. Watson is just 47 points from 1,000 for his career and is 11 steals away from 10th place on Husker career charts.