Huskers Head to Penn State Saturday Afternoon
The Nebraska men's basketball team looks for its second straight win Saturday afternoon, as the Huskers travel to Penn State. Tipoff from the Bryce Jordan Center is set for 1:15 p.m. (central) and the contest with the Nittany Lions will be televised nationally on BTN and carried on the Huskers Radio Network. It will also be available on the Fox Sports app.
The Huskers (10-9, 3-5 Big Ten) have been challenged away from home as Saturday's game will be Nebraska's fourth road game in six games this month. In all, NU will play six of its nine games this month on the road, and Saturday's game presents an opportunity to snag another Quad 2 win. As of Jan. 19, Nebraska has played the second-hardest schedule in the country according to the NET (Kansas is No. 1) and Saturday's game at Penn State will be NU's 13th game against either a Quad 1 or Quad 2 opponent this season.
|Game 20: at Penn State|
|Date: Saturday., Jan. 21
Tipoff: 1:15 p.m. (CT)
Location:University Park, Pa.
Arena: Bryce Jordan Center
On the Air
Radio: Saturday's game will be carried on the Huskers Radio Network with Kent Pavelka and Jake Muhleisen on the call, including KLIN (1400 AM) in Lincoln, KXSP (590 AM) in Omaha and KRVN (880 AM) in Lexington and will also be available on Huskers.com and the Huskers app. The pregame show begins an hour before tipoff.
TV/Online: Wednesday's game will be televised on Big Ten Network with Jason Ross Jr. and Jess Settles on the call. The game will also be available online on the Fox Sports app.
Nebraska's defense was the story in the Huskers 63-60 win over Ohio State on Wednesday night. The Huskers held OSU to 35.7 percent shooting, limiting a Buckeye offense which was sixth nationally in offensive efficiency to 0.83 points per possession and a season-low 60 points. NU is now 35th in defensive efficiency, which is the highest the Huskers have been since the 2014-15 season. Last year, Nebraska was 178th nationally in defensive efficiency.
Sam Griesel led a balanced attack with 15 points, including 10 in the second half, while all nine Huskers who played got into the scoring column despite missing rotational players Juwan Gary (shoulder) and Blaise Keita (ankle).
Penn State (12-6, 3-4 Big Ten) looks to bounce back after losing 63-60 at Wisconsin on Tuesday night. Penn State led 36-30 at the break, but was held to 38 percent shooting in the second half as Wisconsin rallied for the win. Jalen Pickett led Penn State with 19 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, as the 6-foot-4 guard ranks in the top-10 of the Big Ten in scoring (17.7 ppg, fourth), assists (7.3 apg, first) and rebounding (7.7, 10th).
• Nebraska will look for its third straight win at Penn State on Saturday afternoon. Last year's win on Feb. 28, 2022 broke a 13-game road losing streak, and propelled NU to a three-game road win streak to close the 2021-22 season. Beginning with the win in State College last season, NU is 5-5 on the road in its last 10 road games, including three wins over ranked teams.
• A win on Saturday would allow the Huskers to exceed its win total from last season and match its number of Big Ten wins from a year ago.
• Nebraska has faced one of the nation's toughest schedules in 2022-23. As of Jan. 19, Nebraska's NET strength of schedule was second nationally. Currently five Big Ten teams are in the top-20 nationally in strength of schedule (Michigan State-9; Maryland-15; Wisconsin-15; Ohio State-17).
• Wednesday's game against Ohio State was Nebraska's ninth game this year against a team currently in Quad 1. The Huskers are tied with three other teams for the national lead in Quad 1 games as of Jan. 19.
• 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.
• Penn State will be another challenge for the Huskers' defense, as the Nittany Lions rank 26th nationally in offensive efficiency. Following Wednesday's win against Ohio State, NU has faced three offenses (Purdue-2x; Iowa, Ohio State) ranked in the top-15 nationally in offensive efficiency. NU's defense has allowed 0.94 points per possession in those contests.
• 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.
• Walker is averaging a team-high 7.9 rebounds per game to rank eighth in the Big Ten in rebounding as of Jan. 19. 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 15 rebounds to reach 500 rebounds for his college career after his 10-rebound effort against Ohio State.
• Nebraska's win over Ohio State 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 biggest strides Nebraska has made has been in rebounding. NU is currently ninth in the Big Ten in rebounding margin at +1.3 per game after ranking last in the conference with a -7.0 margin last season. Of Nebraska's eight Big Ten games, NU has played seven against teams currently in the top seven in the conference in that category. Ohio State entered the game second in the Big Ten in rebounding margin at +6.2 per game, but NU out-rebounded the Buckeyes, 39-38.
• 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 19 opponents to 70 points or less and have climbed nearly 140 spots in adjusted defense in KenPom compared to last season.
• Nebraska had done an excellent job of not fouling this season. NU is 13th nationally in fewest fouls per game (13.8) entering Saturday's game at Penn State.
• 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.).
About Penn State
Penn State comes into Saturday's game with a 12-6 record following Tuesday's 63-60 loss to Wisconsin. Micah Shrewsberry is in his second year at Penn State. Before taking the Penn State job, he had two stints as an assistant at Purdue (2011-13, 2019-21) and was with the Boston Celtics (2013-19) on Brad Stevens' staff.
The Nittany Lions went 9-2 in non-conference play with a two-point loss to Virginia Tech and a double OT loss at Clemson. PSU was 11-3 following an 83-79 win over Iowa on Jan. 1, but has dropped three of its last four, including road games at Michigan and Wisconsin and a game against No. 1 Purdue at the Palestra. PSU is 9-1 in home games at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Nittany Lions average 74.5 points per game and shoot 47 percent from the field, including nearly 40 percent from 3-point range. Defensively, they hold opponents to 41 percent shooting.
Penn State is an experienced team with four senior starters, including a trio of fifth-year performers. Jalen Pickett is the headliner of the PSU attack, as he ranks in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding and assists. He has four double-doubles this season, including a triple-double against Butler (15 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists). PSU's other double-figure scorers are also excellent shooters in Seth Lundy (13.7 ppg, 42% from 3) and Andrew Funk (12.4 ppg, 42% from 3). As a team, Penn State averages nearly 11 3-pointers per game. Saturday's meeting is the first of two this year, as the teams will square off in Lincoln on Feb. 5.
Series History: Saturday's game is the 25th meeting with Penn State holding a 13-11 advantage. Since Nebraska joined the Big Ten, the Huskers are 10-11 against the Nittany Lions (10-8 in regular season; 0-3 in Big Ten Tournament). The teams played three times before Nebraska joined the Big Ten, a home-and-home series in 1980 and 1981 and in the second round of the 1995 NIT. Last year's win in State College was NU's first since the 2012-13 season.
Last meeting: Bryce McGowens' 25 points led five Huskers in double figures, as Nebraska put together its most complete performance of the season in a 93-70 win over Penn State on Feb. 27.
McGowens hit 8-of-13 shots from the floor, including a trio of 3-pointers, as Nebraska shot 58.2 percent from the field, including 13-of-20 from 3-point range. Alonzo Verge Jr. had 15 points and five assists, while Lat Mayen (13), Trey McGowens (12) and Derrick Walker (10) all cracked double figures.
The McGowens brothers keyed an 18-2 first-half run over a span of 4:26, combining for 12 points as the Huskers turned a 13-10 deficit into a 13-point lead at 28-15 after a Bryce McGowens putback. The Huskers, who shot 61 percent in the first half, including 7-of-12 from 3-point range, kept building the lead and closed the half on an 8-2 spurt to take a 49-31 lead into the locker room after Verge's 3-pointer. Nebraska quickly stretched the lead to 23, at 54-31 after a Mayen jumper just 1:35 into the second half, and Penn State was never able to cut the deficit to less than 20 the rest of the way, as Nebraska snapped a 13-game road losing streak. Sam Sessoms, Seth Lundy and Jalen Pickett had 12 points apiece for Penn State, which shot 46 percent, but was out-rebounded 34-22.
Last Time Out
Sam Griesel scored 10 of his game-high 15 points in the second half, as Nebraska used a balanced attack and held Ohio State to 36 percent shooting in a 63-60 victory at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Jan. 18.
While Griesel kept the Huskers within striking distance early, it was some unsung heroes that gave Nebraska a hard-fought win. The Huskers trailed 49-47 with 8:55 remaining before Denim Dawson's basket keyed a decisive 8-0 run for the hosts. Jamarques Lawrence's 3-pointer gave NU a 52-49 lead it wouldn't relinquish before an Emmanuel Bandoumel basket and a Wilhelm Breidenbach free throw put NU up 55-49 with 5:14 left.
The game featured 13 lead changes and eight ties as neither team led by more than six points the entire evening. The Huskers held OSU without a field goal for over six and half minutes down the stretch and hit just enough free throws in the final two minutes to earn a second straight win over the Buckeyes. OSU closed to within 61-58 after a Brice Sensabaugh 3-pointer with 35 seconds left and eventually pulled to within 62-60 with 12.7 seconds remaining after a pair of free throws from Sean McNeil. C.J. Wilcher split a pair of free throws with 12.2 seconds remaining and the Huskers held on for a crucial home win.
Nebraska-Illinois Time Change
The Big Ten Conference announced Thursday morning that Nebraska's men's basketball game at Illinois on Tuesday, Jan. 31, will now tip off at 6 p.m. (central). The Nebraska-Illinois game will be carried on the Big Ten Network and the Huskers Radio Network. The game time, which was originally scheduled for 6:30 p.m., was adjusted following the rescheduling of the Northwestern/Iowa men's basketball from Jan. 18 to Jan. 31.
Gary to Miss Remainder of 2022-23 season
Nebraska men's basketball coach Fred Hoiberg announced on Jan. 18 that Juwan Gary will have left shoulder surgery and miss the remainder of the 2022-23 season.
Gary, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound forward, suffered the injury in the first half of Nebraska's game with Illinois on Jan. 10. An MRI revealed last week the extent of the injury, and after meeting with a shoulder specialist earlier on Wednesday, it was determined that undergoing surgery was the best course of action. Gary will undergo shoulder surgery next week, and according to Athletic Trainer R.J. Pietig, the rehab process will be between 5-6 months.
Gary started all 17 games in his first season after transferring from Alabama and averaged 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.
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. 35 nationally in defensive efficiency in KenPom. The No. 35 ranking is the Huskers' best since the 2014-15 season.
- The jump is more impressive when you consider that Nebraska has played nine games against teams currently in the top-40 nationally in offensive efficiency. PSU comes into the game ranked 26th in offensive efficiency.
- Nebraska is one of only seven teams nationally allowing at least 10 points less than last season, as NU's 11.7 ppg decrease is tied for third nationally.
- Nebraska has held 11 opponents to 1.0 point per possession or less.
- 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.
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 is seventh in the Big Ten in assists per game as of Jan. 20.
- Griesel has reached double figures in each of his last six games, and he is averaging 13.7 ppg in that span. He had 15 points and seven rebounds in the win over Ohio State after missing the Purdue game with a hip injury.
- 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 Looks to Continue Efficient Shooting
Super senior Derrick Walker has made a significant impact on the Huskers since returning to action on Nov. 25. Walker, who missed NU's first five games, has been a force, averaging 13.6 points on 60 percent shooting, 7.9
rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. The 6-foot-9 forward was NU's only returning starter entering 2021-22 and has 11 double-figure efforts in 14 contests.
- He is one of just 13 players nationally averaging at least 13 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.
- Walker has a team-high three double-doubles (Memphis, Florida State and No. 4 Purdue) and six for his career.
- 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.
- He led NU with 15 points, nine rebounds and three assists at Michigan State on Jan. 3.
- 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.
Bandoumel Provides Steady Production for Big Red
Senior grad transfer Emmanuel Bandoumel has been a steadying force on both ends of the court for the Huskers this season. He averages 8.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game while also spearheading NU's defensive attack. Before joining the Husker program, the Quebec City, Quebec, native was a three-year starter at SMU, averaging double figures in both 2020-21 and 2021-22.
- Bandoumel had six points against Ohio State but led NU with four assists and tied his career high with three steals.
- He has reached double figures nine times, most recently a 10-point effort at Purdue on Jan. 13.
- Bandoumel, who played off the ball for most of his time at SMU, matched his career best with six assists against Boston College on Nov. 30.
- He tallied 18 points and five assists in the loss against Memphis on Nov. 15 and had 13 points and five dimes against Oklahoma on Nov. 24.
- Bandoumel enjoyed his best game against Omaha with 18 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in NU's game-opening 11-0 run.
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. The 6-foot-2 guard is third on the team in scoring at 9.9 points per game while averaging less than 20 minutes per contest.
- Tominaga leads the Huskers in both 3-pointers (29) and 3-point percentage (.377).
- He has 10 double figure games, including eight off the bench, and is among the Big Ten leaders in scoring off the bench.
- 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 17 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.
A Change of Pace
One typical trait of a Fred Hoiberg team is to play at a fast pace. The Huskers led the Big Ten in pace in each of the last three seasons according to KenPom, including top-20 rankings in 2019-20 (16th) and 2021-22 (19th). NU has been the only Big Ten team to rank in the top 50 in any of the past three seasons. The 2022-23 team has been completely different, as NU is 277th nationally in pace as of Jan. 19. NU has had just seven games with 70+ possessions in the first 19 contests (St. John's, Florida State, Creighton, Indiana, Kansas State, Queens and Ohio State), and only one of those opponents finished above 1.0 point per possession.
SIngle-Game Tickets and Mini-Plans Now on Sale
Single-game tickets for the 2022-23 schedule are now on sale. A select number of 300 Level seats are available for $10 each for each of the Huskers' remaining Big Ten matchups, including games with Northwestern, Penn State, Wisconsin, Maryland, Minnesota and Michigan State.
The single-game tickets are one of several options to purchase Husker basketball tickets for the 2022-23 season. In addition, the Six-Game Mini-Plan which allows fans to pick 300 Level seats for any six games during the 2022-23 season for just $30 while supplies last.
To purchase, visit Huskers.com/Tickets or call the Nebraska Athletic Ticket Office at 800-8-BIGRED during business hours (8 a.m.-5 p.m., Mon.-Fri.).