The Nebraska men’s basketball team returns home for an important Big Ten matchup on Wednesday, as the Huskers will host Northwestern at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The game was pushed back one day following the move of the
Northwestern-Wisconsin game from Jan. 21 to Jan. 23 because of COVID-19 health and safety protocols within the Northwestern program.
Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. and tickets are available by visiting Huskers.com/Tickets, calling the NU Athletic Ticket Office at 800-8-BIGRED during business hours (8 a.m.-5 p.m., Mon.-Fri.) and at the Pinnacle Bank Arena Ticket Office 90 minutes before tipoff. The matchup with the Wildcats will now be carried on FS2 and carried on the Huskers Radio Network. It will also be available on the Fox Sports app.
|Game 21: Northwestern|
|Date: Wednesday, Jan. 25
Tipoff: 6:01 p.m.
Arena: Pinnacle Bank Arena
On the Air
TV/Online: Wednesday’s game will be televised on FS2 with Kevin Kugler and Nick Bahe on the call. The game will also be available online on the Fox Sports app.
Wednesday’s game is part of Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers Week, as the Husker coaches will be donning suits and sneakers to raise awareness for cancer research.
The Huskers (10-10, 3-6 Big Ten) were short-handed but battled in a 76-65 loss at Penn State on Saturday. Derrick Walker led NU with 20 points and added six rebounds and six assists to pace four Huskers in double figures. Despite losing Emmanuel Bandoumel early in the contest with a knee injury, Nebraska was within 57-54 with eight minutes remaining before Penn State went on a 13-4 run to take control. One encouraging sign for the Huskers was the performance of C.J. Wilcher off the bench. The sophomore totaled 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting and reached double figures for the first time in six games. Wilcher was the Huskers’ sixth man. most of the last year before moving into the starting lineup for most of this year
Northwestern (13-5, 4-3) returned from a week-long COVID-19 pause on Monday with a 66-63 win against Wisconsin. The Wildcats, who are playing five games in an 11-day stretch, held Wisconsin to one field goal in the final six minutes to erase a 57-54 deficit. Boo Buie had 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Chase Audige added 16 points for the winners.
Numbers to Know
8.5 – Denim Dawson had a career-high nine rebounds at Penn State and averaged 8.5 rebounds per game in Nebraska’s two games last week. Prior to last week, he totaled just 18 caroms in his first 16 games.
.638 – Derrick Walker’s career field goal percentage at Nebraska. He is on track to set NU’s career record in that category. Larry Cox (.625, 1974-76) and Dave Hoppen (.600, 1983-86) are the only two Huskers with career field goal percentages above .600 with a minimum of 400 attempts.
2- Nebraska’s Sam Griesel is one of only two Big Ten players – and 20 players across all of Division I – averaging at least 10.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game, joining Penn State’s Jalen Pickett as of Jan. 23.
• Northwestern’s COVID-19 shutdown and restart affected a pair of Husker games. In addition to Wednesday’s game, the Jan. 31 game at Illinois will now start at 6 p.m. because of the rescheduled Iowa-Northwestern matchup at 8 p.m. that evening.
• A welcome back to Red Zone this week, as Nebraska students have been off since mid-December. The only Big Ten game with a student section was the Dec. 10 OT matchup with Purdue.
• A win on Wednesday would allow the Huskers to exceed its win total from last season and match its number of Big Ten wins from a year ago. It would also give Nebraska Head Coach Fred Hoiberg his 150th collegiate victory.
• Nebraska is down to nine active scholarship players with season-ending injuries to Juwan Gary (shoulder), Emmanuel Bandoumel (knee) and Quaran McPherson (knee) while freshman Ramel Lloyd Jr. is redshirting this year. In addition, Blaise Keita has played just eight minutes since suffering an ankle injury against Queens on Dec. 20.
• Nebraska has faced one of the nation’s toughest schedules in 2022-23. As of Jan. 23, Nebraska’s NET strength of schedule is first nationally. Nebraska’s nine games against Quad 1 teams is tied for third nationally, trailing only (11) and Kansas (10). Of Nebraska’s remaining 11 games, 10 would currently be against Quad 1 or 2 opponents. Entering this week, nine Big Ten teams are in the top-50 in the NET while 13 of the 14 teams are currently in the top 100.
• Derrick Walker enters Wednesday’s game with Northwestern as one of just 12 players nationally averaging at least 14 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. The group includes a trio of Big Ten players in Walker, Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis and Penn State’s Jalen Pickett.
Since 2000, only six Big Ten players have finished a season averaging those numbers, and none have done it with a field goal percentage of over 60 percent.
• Walker is averaging a team-high 7.7 rebounds per game to rank ninth in the Big Ten in rebounding as of Jan. 23. It is on pace to be NU’s highest rebounding average since the 2007-08 season. Since 2000, only five Huskers – Ed Morrow Jr. (2016-17), Aleks Maric (2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08), Andrew Drevo (2002-03), Kimani Ffriend (1999-2000, 2000-01) – have averaged at least seven rebounds per game. Walker needs just eight rebounds to reach 500 for his career.
• With more of an emphasis on positional size compared to previous Hoiberg-coached Husker teams, Nebraska has made significant improvement on the defensive end despite breaking in an entirely new starting lineup. The Huskers have held 12 of their 20 opponents to 70 points or less and have climbed nearly 140 spots in adjusted defense in KenPom compared to last season. NU is currently 36th nationally in defensive efficiency as of Jan. 23.
• Nebraska has done an excellent job of not fouling this season. NU is 11th nationally in fewest fouls per game (13.8) entering Wednesday’s game with Northwestern.
• The biggest strides Nebraska has made has been in rebounding. NU is currently 10th in the Big Ten in rebounding margin at +1.1 per game after ranking last in the conference with a -7.0 margin last season. NU has played seven of its nine Big Ten games against teams in the top half of the conference in rebounding margin. In Big Ten play, NU is 3-0 when out-rebounding opponents, but winless in conference play when being out-rebounded.
• Nebraska has been the one team to keep Zach Edey in check in 2022-23, holding the national player of the year frontrunner to just 11.5 points per game in two contests. Edey’s two lowest scoring percentages came in the two games against Nebraska.
• Derrick Walker is one of only two Big Ten players this year to have a game of at least 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as he did against Minnesota on Jan. 7. Jalen Pickett has done it twice (vs. Quinnipiac on Dec. 22 and Jan. 8 vs. Purdue). Over the last three seasons (2020-21 to 2022-23), it has happened just six times, including twice by Husker players.
• Nebraska’s win over Ohio State on Jan. 18 marked the Huskers’ first win over the Buckeyes in Lincoln since the 2014 campaign and marked the first time NU had beaten the Buckeyes in consecutive games.
• The Huskers broke a couple of overtime losing streaks in the win at Minnesota on Jan. 7. The win snapped a six-game losing streak in overtime games dating back to the 2019-20 season and marked NU’s first road OT win in
conference play since Feb. 17, 2001.
• Nebraska has totaled seven double-doubles (Derrick Walker-3; Sam Griesel-2; Juwan Gary-1; Blaise Keita-1) and all seven have been points/rebounds double-doubles. Last year, NU totaled 10 double-doubles in 32 games (6 pts./reb. and 4 pts./asst.)
Chris Collins is in his 10th season at Northwestern and brings the Wildcats to Lincoln with a 13-5 record, including a 4-3 mark in the Big Ten, following Monday’s home win over Wisconsin. The Wildcats won 12 of their first 15 games, including wins at Michigan State and Indiana and against Illinois, before suffering back-to-back losses to Rutgers and at Michigan. The Wildcats’ game at Wisconsin was their first game since Jan. 15.
The Wildcats returned four starters from a year ago, including the starting backcourt of Chase Audige (15.3 ppg) and Boo Buie (15.3 ppg). The pair combine for more than 30 points a game. Northwestern has four players in their eight-man rotation averaging at least 9.0 ppg.The Wildcats’ strength is on the defensive end, where Northwestern is among the Big Ten leaders in scoring defense (60.9 ppg) and field goal percentage defense (.386).
Series History: Nebraska and Northwestern meet for the 22nd time on Wednesday, as the Wildcats lead 12-9. NU is just 6-11 against the Wildcats with Northwestern winning the last six meetings. Last year, the Wildcats swept all three games, including a 71-69 win in the Big Ten Tournament.
Last meeting: It was a tale of two halves for Nebraska in the 2022 Big Ten Tournament opener in Indianapolis. The Huskers dominated the first half en route to a 14-point halftime lead, but Northwestern outscored Nebraska by 16 in the second half, as the Wildcats rallied for a 71-69 victory.
The Huskers stretched their 14-point halftime lead to 15 with 15:28 to play. But Northwestern responded with a 14-0 run in less than three minutes. Nebraska continued to hold the lead until back-to-back 3-pointers put Northwestern in front by one with 6:24 remaining. From there, the lead changed hands twice and the game was tied twice before Chase Audige broke the final tie with the game-winning free throw with 18.1 seconds remaining.
Down one with the ball, Nebraska was whistled for an offensive foul on its next possession, giving the ball back to Northwestern. Boo Buie then knocked down 1-of-2 free throws to make it a two-point game and Trey McGowens’ driving layup with two seconds left was blocked to seal Northwestern’s victory.
After shooting 52 percent in the first half, Nebraska shot just 32 percent in the second half, finishing the game at 43 percent overall. Nebraska was effective at attacking the paint in the first half, outscoring the Wildcats 28-6 in the paint in the opening 20 minutes. But Northwestern outscored Nebraska by 14 in the paint in the second half. The Wildcats were the better team from long range throughout the game, as Northwestern was 10-of-30 from the 3-point line while Nebraska was just 3-of-15.
Alonzo Verge Jr. led Nebraska with a game-high 21 points in his final game. He also added nine assists and seven rebounds, while Derrick Walker tied his career high with 16 points, and he grabbed seven rebounds. Buie led Northwestern with 16 points, including 14 in the second half. Pete Nance also flirted with a triple-double, as he scored 14 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out eight assists.
Last Time Out
Derrick Walker had 20 points to lead four Huskers in double figures, but Penn State shot 68 percent in the second half in a 76-65 win over Nebraska on Jan. 21.
Walker paced the Huskers with 20 points, his fourth 20-point contest, and added six rebounds and six assists for Nebraska. Keisei Tominaga had 13 points, while C.J. Wilcher and Sam Griesel chipped in 11 markers apiece, as Nebraska shot 45 percent from the field, but went just 13-of-24 from the foul line.
Andrew Funk had 23 points, including five 3-pointers, while Seth Lundy added 13 of his 16 points in the second half. Jalen Pickett added 12 points and 13 rebounds for Penn State. The Nittany Lions shot 49 percent, including 11 3-pointers, and out-rebounded the Huskers, 33-31.
Nebraska, which overcame a 10-point first-half deficit, trailed 33-26 early in the second half before Nebraska used a 7-0 spurt on a pair of Walker baskets and a 3-pointer from Wilcher to knot the score at 33 apiece with 16:45 remaining. The Huskers stayed in striking distance and trailed 45-41 before a Kayne Clary driving basket and a 3-pointer from Lundy stretched the lead to 50-41 with 12:22 remaining. Trailing 52-41, Tominaga got the Huskers back into the game, scoring 11 points in a 13-5 spurt that pulled the Huskers within 54-57 with 8:13 left. That would be as close as Nebraska would get as PSU used a 13-4 run of its own to take a 70-58 lead after Funk’s 3-pointer with 3:37 remaining.
Making Strides On Defense
Nebraska has made significant improvement on the defensive end this season, which is a big reason for the Huskers already matching their 2021-22 win total.
- Nebraska has climbed from No. 178 to No. 36 nationally in defensive efficiency in KenPom. The No. 36 ranking is the Huskers’ best since the 2014-15 season.
- The jump is more impressive when you consider that Nebraska has played 10 games against teams currently in the top-40 nationally in offensive efficiency.
- Nebraska is one of only six teams nationally allowing at least 10 points less than last season, as NU’s 11.3 ppg decrease is tied for third nationally.
- Nebraska has held 11 opponents to 1.0 point per possession or less.
- The Huskers held Ohio State to a season-low 60 points in NU’s 63-60 win on Jan. 18.
- In the overtime loss to No. 4 Purdue on Dec. 10, Nebraska held the Boilermakers to 0.99 points per possession. Purdue currently leads the nation in offensive efficiency (119.9) as of Jan. 18.
- Nebraska held Iowa, which is currently fourth in offensive efficiency to 0.76 per possession and just 26 percent shooting on Dec. 29.
- In NU’s win at No. 7 Creighton on Dec. 4, the Huskers limited the Bluejays to 0.73 points per possession, the Huskers’ best performance in a road game in over a decade.
Gary, Bandoumel to Miss Remainder of 2022-23 season
The last 10 days have been tough on the injury front, as Nebraska has lost a pair of starters to season-ending injuries.
- On Jan. 18, it was announced that Juwan Gary will have left shoulder surgery. Gary had started NU’s first 17 games before suffering the injury against Illinois on Jan. 10. He was averaging 9.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and a team-high 1.4 steals per game. He ranked in the top 15 in the Big Ten in steals (seventh) and rebounding (15th) at the time of his injury and totaled nine double-figure games. He had a season-high 18 points in Nebraska’s win at Minnesota on Jan. 7, and has three games with 10+ rebounds, most recently at Kansas State on Dec. 17.
- Senior guard Emmanuel Bandoumel joined Gary on the sideline, as he suffered a knee injury in the first half of Nebraska’s game at Penn State on Jan. 21. Bandoumel was the only Husker to start all 20 games and was averaging 8.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steals per game. He was second on the team in minutes per game (31.1) and ranked third on the team in both assists and steals. He totaled nine double figure games this season, including 18 points apiece against Memphis and Omaha.
- Entering the Northwestern game, NU players have missed a combined 33 games this season: Quaran McPherson (20); Derrick Walker (5); Blaise Keita (4); Juwan Gary (3) and Sam Griesel (2).
Hometown Kid Making Good
Senior Sam Griesel has enjoyed quite the homecoming, averaging 11.4 points, 4.1 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game from his point guard spot in replacing Alonzo Verge Jr., who led the Big Ten in assists per game last season. Griesel spent the last four seasons at North Dakota State, earning All-Summit League honors in 2021 and 2022 before returning to Lincoln for his senior year.
- He ranks eighth in the Big Ten in assists and 10th in steals as of Jan. 23
- Griesel has reached double figures in each of his last seven games, and he is averaging 13.3 ppg and 5.7 rpg in that span. He comes off an 11-point 5-steal, 5-rebound, 4-assist performance at Penn State on Jan. 21.
- He came up big in the win at Minnesota with 17 points, six rebounds and five assists, while going 6-of-6 from the foul line.
- Griesel collected his second double-double in the win over Iowa with 12 points and team highs in rebounds (10) and assists (five).
- The Huskers’ first scholarship recruit from Lincoln since Jake Muhleisen in the early 2000s, Griesel keyed NU’s win at No. 7 Creighton with 18 points, a season-high 12 rebounds and seven assists.
- Against Maine, Griesel scored a season-high 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds while also chipping in 18 points in the win over Omaha.
- Griesel’s 22-point effort against Maine in the season opener was one of the highest-scoring debuts by a Husker in the last 50 seasons.
Walker Puts Together Strong Senior Season
Super senior Derrick Walker has made a significant impact on the Huskers since returning to action on Nov. 25. Walker has been a force, averaging 14.1 points on 60 percent shooting, 7.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. The 6-foot-9 forward was NU’s only returning starter entering 2021-22 and has 12 double-figure efforts in 15 contests.
- He is one of just 12 players nationally averaging at least 13 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.
- Walker ranks 14th in the Big Ten in scoring, ninth in rebounding and 12th in assists entering Wednesday’s game with Northwestern.
- Walker has a team-high three double-doubles (Memphis, Florida State and No. 4 Purdue) and six for his career.
- He comes off his fourth career 20-point game at Penn State with 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting, six rebounds and six assists.
- He had a strong performance at No. 4 Purdue with 19 points, six rebounds and four assists, while helping limit Zach Edey to 12 points on seven shots.
- Walker had one of the finest games of his career in NU’s OT win at Minnesota on Jan. 7 with 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. He set or tied personal bests in both points and assists.
- His most recent double-double was a 14-point, 10-rebound effort against No. 4 Purdue on Dec. 10. He also helped limit Zach Edey to a season-low 11 points, snapping his streak of eight straight 20-point games.
- He keyed NU’s win over No. 7 Creighton with a career-high 22 points on 11-of-16 shooting and eight rebounds against Ryan Kalkbrenner, the reigning Big East Defensive Player of the Year. Walker’s efforts helped NU enjoy a 46-16 advantage in points in the paint.
- Walker posted his first career 20-point game in a win over Florida State on Nov. 27, with 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting and matched his career high with 13 rebounds.
- He made his 2022-23 debut against Memphis and had 15 points and 12 boards in a loss to the Tigers.
- Walker averaged 9.5 ppg and 6.0 rpg in 2022, breaking NU’s single-season field goal percentage mark by shooting 68.3 percent from the field.
Tominaga Moves into Starting Role
After being the Huskers’ sixth man for most of the season, junior Keisei Tominaga moved into the starting lineup against Ohio State on Jan. 18. The 6-foot-2 guard is third on the team in scoring at 10.1 points per game while averaging just over 20 minutes per contest.
- Tominaga leads the Huskers in both 3-pointers (31) and 3-point percentage (.369).
- He has 11 double figure games, including eight off the bench, and was among the Big Ten’s leaders in bench scoring before he was inserted in the lineup.
- He comes off a 13-point effort at Penn State on Saturday and has reached double figures in all three of his starts.
- Tominaga posted a 16-point effort at No. 3 Purdue on Jan. 13, hitting 5-of-8 shots from the field, including four 3-pointers.
- He enjoyed one of his best efforts of the year in NU’s 65-62 loss to No. 4 Purdue on Dec. 10 with 19 points, including four 3-pointers. He sent the game to OT with a 3-pointer with 9.1 seconds left in regulation.
- Of Tominaga’s 18 career double-figure games at Nebraska, 12 have come off the bench, including 23-point efforts against Boston College on Nov. 29 and against South Dakota last season.
- Tominaga shined in NU’s win over Boston College on Nov. 30. He tied his career high of 23 points on just eight field goal attempts (7-8 FG, 4-5 3PT; 5-5 FT) for his second career 20-point game. He had 17 of his 23 markers in the first half, including 11 straight NU points.
- Tominaga also had a team-high 15 points at St. John’s and a 19-point effort against Maine. In the game against Maine, he connected on 7-of-12 shots from the field in 20 minutes of work.
- Over the summer, Tominaga was with the Japanese National Team, making his debut in the FIBA World Cup Asia qualifier in early July and then starred for Japan in the 2022 Asia Cup. In seven games with the Senior National Team, Tominaga averaged 15.9 points per game while shooting 39.3 percent from the 3-point line. His best performance came against Australia in the Asia Cup quarterfinals, when he poured in 33 points on 12-of-20 shooting, including 8-of-15 from 3-point range.
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