After splitting a pair of matchups against nationally-ranked teams, the Huskers hit the road again on Monday night, as the Huskers travel to Piscataway for a matchup with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Tipoff at the RAC is set for 7:01 p.m. (central) and the matchup will be televised nationally on BTN with Dave O’Brien and Stephen Bardo on the call. Monday’s game will also be available on the Fox Sports App and BTN2Go with cable authentication.
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 the TuneIn Radio app and on both Sirius and XM Radio. The pregame show begins one hour prior to tipoff on many of the Husker Sports Network affiliates (affiliate list on page 7 of the game notes).
The Huskers (13-5, 3-4 Big Ten) put together a strong defensive effort, but could not get the shots to drop in a 70-64 loss to No. 6 Michigan State last Thursday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Nebraska held the Spartans to their second-lowest point total (70) and field goal percentage (.436) of the season to stay in the contest, but NU shot a season-low 33 percent from the floor, including just 5-of-26 from 3-point range. The loss snapped Nebraska’s 20-game home winning streak and just the Huskers’ second home loss in the last two seasons. James Palmer Jr. had a game-high 24 points and eight rebounds against the Spartans to pace the Big Red.
Isaac Copeland put together a solid week, averaging 13.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in NU’s contests against No. 25 Indiana and No. 6 Michigan State. The 6-foot-9 forward is second on NU’s roster in scoring (14.2 ppg) and rebounding (5.4 rpg) and has reached double figures 15 times in 18 contests.
Rutgers (8-9, 1-6 Big Ten) looks to snap a three-game losing streak following a 65-57 loss to Northwestern on Friday night. Freshman Montez Mathis led Rutgers with 16 points, while sophomore Geo Baker had 12 points and four assists, but Rutgers shot just 39 percent against the Wildcats. Rutgers has been much improved this season with wins over Miami and nationally ranked Ohio State.
12 – Nebraska had shot at least 40 percent in 12 straight games before being held to a season-low 33 percent in Thursday’s loss to No. 6 Michigan State.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
1.41 – Nebraska’s assist-to-turnover ratio, which is on pace to be one of the best marks in school history and ranks 27th nationally. Both Glynn Watson Jr. and Thomas Allen currently have better than 2.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratios.
3 – Number of Huskers with double-doubles this season (Isaac Copeland Jr., Isaiah Roby and Glynn Watson Jr.).
8.3 – Nebraska’s steals per game which leads the Big Ten and ranks 31st nationally. As a team, Nebraska has not averaged 8.0 steals per game since the 2007-08 season (8.4 spg).
15 – Number of 20-point games for Husker players in 2018-19. James Palmer Jr. has nine while Isaac Copeland Jr. (three), Isaiah Roby (two) and Glynn Watson Jr. (one) also enjoyed 20-point games this season.
18 – The Huskers have had 18 runs of at least 10-0 in 2018-19 following Monday’s 11-0 run at Indiana. The Huskers have allowed three double-figure runs this season.
Rutgers has made significant strides under third-year coach Steve Pikiell. A former player at UConn, Pikiell spent the previous 11 seasons at Stony Brook, leading the program to six postseason appearances in seven years, including an NCAA bid in 2016. Rutgers went 15-18 in his first season, including a win over Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament and followed up with 15 wins and a Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal appearance last season.
This season, the Scarlet Knights are 8-9 on the season and looking to snap a three-game losing streak. Rutgers opened the year with a 5-1 record, including a win over Miami in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, before dropping four straight. Rutgers has played a challenging Big Ten slate, facing MSU, Wisconsin, Maryland and Ohio State in its first four Big Ten games. RU upset the Buckeyes, 64-61, but lost Eugene Omoruyi to an injury. He leads Rutgers in both scoring (14.6 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg) and his status has not been determined for Monday’s game. Since his injury, the team has lost three straight contests.
The Scarlet Knights feature a young lineup with two freshmen currently starting. Sophomore Geo Baker is averaging 12.9 ppg and is among the Big Ten leaders at 4.4 apg, while freshman Montez Mathis is averaging 7.8 ppg, including 14.8 ppg over the last four games.
Monday’s matchup will be the 11th all-time meeting with the Scarlet Knights. Nebraska, which leads 7-3, has won six of the seven meetings since Rutgers joined the Big Ten. Nebraska won the first four meetings before Rutgers posted a 65-64 win in 2016-17. Nebraska swept both meetings during the 2017-18, including a 60-54 win at the RAC. Prior to the Scarlet Knights joining the Big Ten, the two teams split a home-and-home series in 2006 and 2007, including a 63-51 win at the Devaney Center on Dec. 9, 2006. The only other meeting was a 19-point Rutgers win at the 1999 Hoop and Quill Classic in St. Charles, Mo.
LAST MEETING VS. RUTGERS
James Palmer Jr. scored a game-high 15 points, while Isaiah Roby recorded his second double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds as Nebraska cruised to a 67-55 win over Rutgers on Feb. 10, 2018. Four Huskers finished in double figures, as Glynn Watson Jr. and Isaac Copeland both added 11 points apiece.
Nebraska was lights out on both offense and defense to begin the game, as the Huskers scored the first eight points of the contest and eventually raced out to a 20-4 lead after an Anton Gill 3-pointer. Rutgers fought back, and would get it as close as 27-22 before Watson’s first two baskets of the game gave NU some cushion at 31-22.
In the final few minutes of the half, the Huskers turned up the pressure on the defensive end, with a block by Duby Okeke to set the tone. The Huskers scored the final four points of the half at the free-throw line, and took a 37-28 lead into the locker room at halftime.
After Rutgers cut the lead to 38-32 early in the second half, Nebraska embarked on a 10-0 run to push the lead to 16 at 48-32, capped by four straight points from Copeland. Roby’s basket at the 6:41 mark gave Nebraska its largest lead of the game at 63-44, before Nebraska salted the game away to complete a season sweep over the Scarlet Knights.
LAST TIME OUT
The Nebraska men’s basketball team fought hard Thursday night, but the Huskers could not overcome their worst shooting night of the season in a 70-64 loss to No. 6 Michigan State at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Despite shooting just 32.8 percent from the field and hitting only 5-of-26 from the 3-point line, Nebraska was within striking distance in a game that featured 11 lead changes and six ties. The game was tied at 44 with 9:43 remaining, but Michigan State responded with a 7-0 run and never relinquished the lead.
The loss snapped Nebraska’s school-record-tying 20-game home winning streak, as the Huskers dropped to 13-5 on the season and 3-4 in Big Ten Conference play. James Palmer Jr. led the Huskers with 24 points and eight rebounds, and the senior went 11-of-11 from the free-throw line. Isaac Copeland Jr. added 13 points in his 100th career start, while Thomas Allen chipped in nine points and Glynn Watson Jr. had eight.
Cassius Winston led Michigan State with a career-high 29 points on 9-of-15 shooting. Behind Winston, the Spartans won their 11th straight game, set a school record with their 19th consecutive regular-season Big Ten Conference win and extended their school record with their 11th consecutive Big Ten road win.
- Nebraska looks for its second straight road win on Monday. The last time NU won consecutive road wins was a three-game stretch from Jan. 24-Feb. 6, 2018 (at Rutgers, at Wisconsin and at Minnesota).
- Husker coach Tim Miles will be looking for his 50th conference win at Nebraska on Monday. Only three Husker coaches (Joe Cipriano, Danny Nee and Moe Iba) won 50 conference games at the school.
- Nebraska has one player from New Jersey in Dachon Burke Jr., who is sitting out this season after transferring from Robert Morris. Burke, who hails from Orange, N.J., averaged 17.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.1 steals per game for Robert Morris en route to all conference honors. He will have two years of eligibility remaining beginning next season.
- The Huskers’ 13-5 mark is its best 18-game start since joining the Big Ten and the best since opening the 2010-11 season with a 14-4 mark.
- All five of Nebraska’s losses (Michigan State, Texas Tech, Minnesota, Iowa, Maryland) are to teams either ranked or receiving votes in this week’s national polls. Those five teams entered the weekend with a combined 75-14 (.843) record.
- The Big Ten is well represented in the latest NET released on Jan. 19, as eight teams are ranked in the top 30 (Michigan-2; Michigan State-5; Nebraska-14; Maryland-16; Purdue-18; Wisconsin-22; Iowa-25; Indiana-29).
- As of the Jan. 19 NET, Nebraska has played 10 of its 17 Division I games against teams in the top two quadrants. Currently, every Big Ten team is in the top-150 of the NET.
- The Huskers are averaging 78.5 points per game, which is third in the Big Ten and NU’s highest scoring average after 17 games since the 1995-96 season (86.9 ppg). During the previous six seasons under Head Coach Tim Miles, NU’s highest average after 18 games was 74.4 ppg in 2015-16.
- Nebraska’s offense ranks in the top-30 nationally in a trio of categories, including turnovers per game (10.3, ninth), turnover margin (+4.4, 15th) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.41, 27th).
- Glynn Watson Jr. needs six assists to crack Nebraska’s top-10 chart for career assists. When he does that, he will become one of six players currently on NU’s top-10 list in both assists and steals, joining Brian Carr (1984-87), Cookie Belcher (1997-2001), Tyronn Lue (1996-98), Erick Strickland (1993-96) and Clifford Scales (1998-91).
- James Palmer Jr. has nine 20-point games this season, bettering his career total in 105 games entering this year.
- NU has committed 10 or fewer turnovers in 10 of the last 13 contests dating back to Nov. 24.
- Nebraska is one of seven teams in Division I ranked in the top 25 nationally in field goal defense, 3-point defense and scoring defense through Jan. 18, a list which also includes Virginia, Texas Tech, Houston, Georgia Tech, VCU and Texas State.
- After opening the month with a pair of sub-par defensive efforts, the Huskers have been effective on that end of the court in the last three games. Since the loss to Iowa, NU is holding teams under 39 percent shooting, including 26 percent from 3-point range.
- Nebraska now ranks ninth nationally in average attendance at 15,582 per game as of Jan. 19. Of the eight school ahead of the Huskers, all eight play in facilities of at least 16,300 seats. NU’s attendance is 104 percent of PBA’s 15,000-seat capacity.
- The Huskers finished non-conference action with a 10-1 mark, including wins over Seton Hall, Clemson, Creighton and Oklahoma State. It marked just the fourth time since World War II that the Huskers finished non-conference play with one loss (10-1, 2003-04; 12-1, 1991-92; and 11-1, 1977-78)
HUSKER OFFENSE GETS INTO HIGH GEAR
Nebraska comes into the Rutgers game averaging 77.7 points per game after averaging 72.3 points per game last year. NU has scored at least 70 points in 14 of 18 contests, including seven games of at least 80 points.
- Nebraska is 12th nationally in offensive efficiency according to KenPom through Jan. 18. In the KenPom era, only the 2003-04 team (25th) ranked in the top-50 nationally in offensive efficiency.
- Nebraska’s 77.7 points per game would rank ninth in school history and is on pace to be the Huskers’ highest single-season average since 1995-96 (80.2 ppg).
- The Huskers are fourth in all games and fifth in conference play (72.2 ppg) in scoring offense. NU scored 70 or more in each of its first five Big Ten games.
- The Huskers scored 106 points in the opener against Mississippi Valley State, the Huskers’ highest total since the 2005-06 campaign.
- Nebraska opened the season with four straight games scoring at least 80 points, marking the first time NU has accomplished that since the 1996 NIT.
- Nebraska scored 94 points in the win over Creighton, its third-highest total in 52 meetings in the series.
- Seven players has put up double-figure efforts, including six against Southeastern Louisiana on Nov. 11, while four players – James Palmer Jr., Isaac Copeland Jr., Glynn Watson Jr. and Isaiah Roby – have recorded 20-point performances.
The solid offensive effort is not surprising based on what the Huskers brought back from last year’s team that went 22-11, as Nebraska brought back its top four scorers for the first time in 15 years, including three players who averaged double figures.
- Nebraska returned three double-figure scorers (James Palmer Jr., 17.2, Isaac Copeland Jr., 12.9 and Glynn Watson Jr., 10.5) for the first time since the 1992-93 season (Eric Piatkowski, 14.3; Derrick Chandler, 12.3; Jamar Johnson, 11.2).
- Nebraska returned 73 percent of its scoring and 72 percent of its assists from last season. It marked the third time in the last 15 seasons that Nebraska returns at least 70 percent of its scoring from the previous year.
DOING IT WITH DEFENSE
For Nebraska, the biggest thing over the last two seasons – a stretch where the Huskers are 34-16 – has been improvements on the defensive end.
Last season, NU went from 13th to sixth in the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense and from 14th to second in 3-point percentage defense. NU ranked in the top-75 nationally in both field goal defense (74th) and 3-point percentage defense (32nd) last season. That has continued during the 2018-19 season at the halfway point of the season.
- NU ranks in the top-25 nationally in scoring defense (61.3 ppg, 11th), field goal defense (.386, 14th) and 3-point defense (.280, ninth) as of Jan. 18. The Huskers also lead the Big Ten in steals (8.3 spg) and are third in blocked shots (4.7 bpg).
- Only one opponent has shot over 50 percent against Nebraska in the last 43 games dating back to last season. In 2018-19, NU has held 17 of its 18 opponents under 50 percent shooting, as only Minnesota has shot over 50 percent in that stretch.
- NU limited 10 of its 18 opponents to under 0.85 points per possession. Mississippi Valley State and Southeastern Louisiana were held to 0.47 points per possession, the lowest number in Tim Miles’ seven years at NU. On the season, the Huskers are 27th in Kenpom’s adjusted defense through Jan. 18.
- The Huskers have held seven opponents to their lowest offensive total of the season, most recently Indiana on Jan. 14. Nebraska held the Hoosiers to 51 points, its lowest point total since Michigan State held the Hoosiers to 50 points on Jan. 5, 2015.
- In Thursday’s loss to No. 6 Michigan State, the Huskers held the Spartans to their second-lowest point total (70) and field goal percentage (.436) of the season.
- Under Miles, the Huskers are 50-5 (.909) when holding opponents under 60 points.
PALMER NAMED TO A PAIR OF MIDSEASON LISTS
Nebraska guard James Palmer Jr. made the cut for a pair of midseason awards last week. The senior was named to both the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 and the Lute Olson Award midseason watch list on Jan. 9.
- Palmer is third in the Big Ten in scoring (19.3 ppg), fifth in steals (1.4 spg) while also ranked among Big Ten leaders in free throw percentage (.816, eighth) and 3-pointers per game (2.1, 14th). He has a team-high nine 20-point games, including eight against power conference foes.
- Palmer is believed to be the first Husker on the Wooden Award midseason watch list.
- For the Olson Award, he is the first Husker to make a midseason list since Terran Petteway in 2015.
NEW NUMBER, SAME GAME FOR PALMER
While senior guard James Palmer Jr. switched from No. 24 to No. 0 in the offseason, the All-American candidate continues to produce at a high level. The 6-foot-6 guard is averaging 19.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game entering the matchup with Rutgers.
- He is among the Big Ten leaders in scoring (third), steals (fifth), free throw percentage (.816, eighth) and 3-pointers per game (2.1, 14th).
- Palmer is challenging to be the first Husker to average 20.0 ppg since Tyronn Lue averaged 21.2 ppg in 1997-98. Only six Husker players have ever averaged 20.0 ppg in a season.
- Palmer has shown the ability to get to the free throw line, as he ranks in the top-10 nationally in both free throws (111, 10th) and attempts (136, 11th), while shooting a career best 81.6 percent from the foul line. Entering this year, Palmer was a career 72 percent shooter.
- He joins Marquette’s Markus Howard as the only power conference players, and two of just 12 players nationally, to hit 100 free throws this season and shoot 80 percent from the foul line as of Jan. 18.
- His Husker career scoring average of 17.9 points per game is eighth among all power conference players spanning the last two seasons. The Big Ten features three of the top eight with Purdue’s Carsen Edwards and Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ.
- Palmer has reached double figures in 48 of 51 career games at Nebraska, including 17 20-point efforts and a pair of 30-point performances.
- Since Dec. 1, Palmer is averaging 20.4 points and 3.8 assists per game while shooting 42 percent from 3-point range.
- Palmer had 24 points, including 11-of-11 from the foul line, and a team-high eight rebounds against No. 6 Michigan State.
- He put together one of his best all-around games at No. 25 Indiana with 11 points along with a career-high nine rebounds and season-high seven assists.
- Palmer led NU with 26 points at Maryland while adding seven rebounds, four assists and a career-high five steals.
- Palmer shouldered the scoring load in the win over Oklahoma State with a game-high 29 points, including 14-of-15 shooting from the foul line.
- Palmer enjoyed one of the best performances of his career with a 30-point game against Creighton. The effort included a career-high six 3-pointers.
- He turned in a strong performance in the Huskers’ win at Clemson, scoring 14 of his 20 points in the second half and also snaring a career-high nine rebounds.
- Finished with 29 points against Seton Hall, the third-highest scoring night in his career, as he scored 18 of his points in the second half.
Last season, Palmer averaged 17.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game in leading the Huskers to a 22-11 record and an NIT berth. Palmer reached double figures in 31 of 33 games in his first season at Nebraska, including eight 20-point efforts. Palmer’s junior year was highlighted by a career-high 34-point effort at Ohio State. Palmer joins Purdue’s Carsen Edwards as returning first-team All-Big Ten selections by the conference coaches.
- Palmer averaged 18.8 points per game in Big Ten play last year, which is the highest average in conference play since Aleks Maric averaged 18.9 ppg in 2006-07. It is also the most by a returning Big Ten player since Tim Frazier in 2012-13.
WATSON KEYS HUSKER ATTACK
Senior Glynn Watson Jr. is in his fourth year as Nebraska’s starting guard and is putting together his best season as a Husker. He comes into the Rutgers game averaging 13.2 points per game on 45 percent shooting, including 41 percent from 3-point range. He is also averaging career bests in assists (3.8 apg), rebounds (4.1 rpg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.6-to-1).
- His assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.62-to-1 this season is on pace to be the best by a Husker since Jamar Johnson in 1993-94.
- Watson has been in double figures 14 times this season, including his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 assists in the win over Cal State Fullerton.
- His on-ball defense has been instrumental in Nebraska ranking among the national leaders in field goal and scoring defense.
- He turned in a strong effort at No. 25 Indiana, scoring 12 of his 15 points in the second half, while adding five rebounds and two steals.
- Watson led NU to a win over Penn State with 19 points and three assists. He scored eight straight Husker points late in the second half to extend a one-point lead.
- He guided the Husker attack in the win over Creighton with 13 points, five assists and a season-high three steals, while holding Creighton’s Ty-Shon Alexander to just 2-of-10 shooting.
- Watson led NU with a season-high 20 points and a career-high nine boards against Western Illinois.
- He showed his playmaking ability by dishing out eight assists and totaling 14 points in the win over Seton Hall.
- Watson has a career 2.15-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio and has more steals (162) than turnovers (157) in his career.
- His older brother Demetri McCamey was an All-Big Ten guard at Illinois during the 2009-10 season.
- Watson is one of three alumni of St. Joseph to reach 1,000 points at Nebraska, joining Carl Hayes (1,136, 1990-92) and Clifford Scales (1,136, 1988-91). All three played for legendary high school coach Gene Pingatore, who is in his 50th year as coach at St. Joseph and has won over 1,000 games at the school.
ISAAC MAKES IT TOUGH FOR OPPONENTS TO COPE
Isaac Copeland Jr. is back to make the most of his senior year. The 6-foot-9 forward joined the program in January of 2017, but then was unable to practice because of a herniated disc that eventually required surgery.
Despite not being able to practice until school started, Copeland finished second on the team in scoring (12.9 ppg), rebounding (6.1 rpg) and blocked shots (1.0 bpg) in his first year at NU, setting personal bests in all three areas and earning honorable-mention All-Big Ten honors.
Copeland has improved many of his numbers in 2018-19, as he averages 14.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while shooting 53 percent from the field.
- Copeland has reached double figures 15 times in 18 games, including a trio of 20-point efforts.
- He tallied 13 points and five rebounds in the loss at No. 25 Michigan State and is now averaging 17.0 points and 6.3 rebounds in three games against ranked opponents this season.
- Copeland was vital in Nebraska’s win at No. 25 Indiana with 14 points and eight rebounds in 33 minutes of work.
- He led NU with a season-high 24-point effort at No. 25 Iowa while adding six rebounds and two steals.
- Copeland had 16 points, five rebounds and a pair of assists in the win over Oklahoma State, keying the Huskers’ comeback in the first half with five straight points as part of an 11-2 run.
- He topped NU in points (17) and rebounds (seven) at Minnesota, including hitting 3-of-5 from 3-point range.
- The senior carried NU to a win at Clemson with 16 points, six boards and three assists while his biggest play was a blocked shot which led to James Palmer’s dunk after Clemson closed to within five.
- He earned a spot on the Hall of Fame Classic All-Tournament Team, averaging 21.5 points per game on 61 percent shooting, 7.5 blocks and 3.0 assists per game. He was in double figures in both contests, including 23 points against Missouri State and 20 points and eight boards against Texas Tech.
- Copeland collected his fifth career double-double in Nebraska’s win over Seton Hall with 18 points and 10 rebounds. He had one during his redshirt year at Georgetown (2016-17) and three in 2017-18.
- He has 11 career 20-point games (7 at Nebraska, 4 at Georgetown), including a pair of 30-point games. Copeland had 30 points on 12-of-14 shooting against North Dakota last year and a career-high 32-point night against Marquette during his sophomore year at Georgetown.
- A top-20 recruit coming out of high school, his 2014 Brewster Academy team also featured Donovan Mitchell (Utah), Devonte’ Graham (Charlotte) and Jonah Bolden (Philadelphia).
- Copeland earned his undergraduate degree in sociology last May and is working on his Master’s Degree. He comes from a basketball family, as his father (Ike) played collegiately at East Carolina. As a senior, he helped East Carolina make the NCAA Tournament.
ROBY FILLS STAT SHEET
Isaiah Roby compliments the Husker attack with a unique skill set. The 6-foot-8 junior averages 10.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.4 steals per game. He leads the Huskers in blocked shots and rebounding and is the only Big Ten player ranked in the top 10 in the conference in both blocked shots and steals as of Jan. 19.
- He is one of only five players nationally and three in power conferences averaging 1.4 blocks and 1.4 steals per game. Only three Big Ten players have accomplished the feat over the last 25 seasons.
- Roby has played some of his best basketball over the past month, averaging 13.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game over his last nine contests dating back to Dec. 5.
- He put together his best performance of the year in the Huskers’ win over Penn State, totaling 22 points on 8-of-9 shooting, along with season bests in rebounds (11) and blocked shots (four).
- He enjoyed a solid performance against Iowa, finishing with 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting and a season-high nine rebounds despite foul trouble.
- He scored a then-career-high 20 points against Cal State Fullerton while also topping the Huskers with eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
- Roby put together a complete game in the win over Creighton, with 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
- His dunk against Seton Hall on Nov. 14 marked the fourth time he’s had a top-10 play on SportsCenter at NU, including highlight dunks vs. Rutgers (2018) and at Indiana (2016).
- Roby is one of only two returning power conference players to total 50 blocks and 50 assists last season, joining Missouri’s Jontay Porter, who will miss the 2018-19 season with a torn ACL. Roby is also one of four Huskers to have 50 blocks and 50 assists in a season, joining Aleks Maric, Venson Hamilton and Rich King.