Huskers Return Home for Penn State on Sunday
The Nebraska men's basketball team returns to Lincoln this weekend, as the Huskers host the Penn State Nittany Lions on Sunday afternoon. Tipoff at Pinnacle Bank Arena is set for 3:30 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. Sunday's game will be carried on BTN and the Huskers Radio Network. It will also be available online on the Fox Sports app.
After spending a majority of January on the road, the Huskers play five of their next seven games at Pinnacle Bank Arena and Sunday's game against Penn State is the Huskers' first weekend home game since Dec. 10.
Nebraska hopes that a return home will provide a boost after finishing an extended road trip with a 72-56 loss to Illinois on Tuesday evening. Sam Griesel had 21 points and six rebounds as Nebraska led 50-48 with under 12 minutes remaining, but the short-handed Huskers struggled down the stretch with foul trouble and turnovers. NU had 13 of its 19 turnovers in the second half, but was still in position to win, trailing just 63-56 with 3:33 remaining.
|Game 24: vs. Penn State|
|Date: Sunday, Jan. 5
Tipoff: 3:30 p.m. (CT)
Arena: Pinnacle Bank Arena
On the Air
Radio: Sunday'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: Sunday's game will be televised on BTN with Kevin Kugler and Jess Settles on the call. The game will also be available online on the Fox Sports app.
While Griesel's 21-point outing was his highest since the season opener, the 6-foot-7 senior guard is second on the team in scoring at 11.5 ppg while ranking among team leaders in assists (4.1 apg, first), steals (1.4 spg, first) and rebounds (5.4 rpg, third). He is one of three Huskers averaging double figures, joining senior forward Derrick Walker (13.4 ppg) and junior guard Keisei Tominaga (10.3 ppg).
Penn State (14-8, 5-6 Big Ten) looks to bounce back after losing 80-60 at No. 1 Purdue on Wednesday night. Seth Lundy led PSU with 18 points and six rebounds, while the Boilermakers held Jalen Pickett to just 12 points, five rebounds and seven assists. PSU went 11-of-29 from 3-point range, but Purdue hit 14 3-pointers, including nine from Mason Gillis and got 18 points and 13 boards from Zach Edey. Pickett, a 6-foot-4 guard, who is on the Wooden Award list, ranks in the top 10 of the Big Ten in scoring (17.4 ppg, sixth), assists (7.0 apg, first) and rebounding (7.8, seventh).
• A win on Sunday would allow the Huskers to exceed their win total from last season and match Nebraska's number of Big Ten wins from a year ago. It would also give Nebraska Head Coach Fred Hoiberg his 150th collegiate victory. NU also looks to snap a two-game home losing streak to Penn State dating back to 2020.
• Sam Griesel's 20-point game at Illinois marked the 10th 20-point game by a Husker this season. It marked his first since the season opener, when he had 22 points in the win over Maine. It was his 15th career 20-point game.
• Nebraska started a lineup with three freshmen at Illinois (Sam Hoiberg, Jamarques Lawrence and Denim Dawson), marking the first time since the 2015-16 that the Huskers had three freshmen in the starting lineup. That season, Michael Jacobson and Glynn Watson Jr. and Jack McVeigh started four straight games during Big Ten play following an injury to Shavon Shields. It is the only other time in the Huskers' Big Ten era where Nebraska started three freshmen.
• Nebraska has now started multiple freshmen in each of the last three contests following Emmanuel Bandoumel's knee injury on Jan. 21. Last year, NU had six games with multiple freshmen in the lineup (Bryce McGowens and either Keon Edwards or C.J. Wilcher). Both Edwards and Wilcher were second-year freshmen who took advantage of the NCAA eligibility freeze because of COVID-19 in 2020-21. In Fred Hoiberg's first season, NU started multiple freshmen on four occasions (Penn State, at Michigan, at Minnesota, vs. Indiana).
• Over the last three games, Nebraska's freshmen have accounted for 36.4 percent of the team's minutes, including 40 percent at Maryland on Jan. 28.
• Nebraska got some good news on the health front on Tuesday, as Blaise Keita returned to action for the first time since Jan. 13. Keita, a 6-foot-11 sophomore, had been slowed since suffering an ankle injury in the first half of NU's game against Queens on Dec. 20. Keita had four rebounds and a blocked shot in 11 minutes of action, his longest stint of action since Dec. 10.
• Nebraska has nine active scholarship players following season-ending injuries to Juwan Gary (shoulder), Emmanuel Bandoumel (knee) and Quaran McPherson (knee). In addition, Ramel Lloyd Jr. will redshirt this season.
• Since Nebraska joined the Big Ten, the Huskers have had 21 freshmen (true, redshirt or covid year) start at least one game, and Jarmarques Lawrence became just the second Husker to reach double figures in his first start with 12 points against Northwestern. He joined Bryce McGowens (25 vs. Western Illinois, 2021) as the only two freshmen to score double figures in their first career start since 2011-12.
• With his 15-point effort at Maryland on Jan. 28, Sam Hoiberg became the 10th different Husker to score in double figures. Hoiberg set season bests in points (15), 3-pointers (three) and minutes (26) in the loss to the Terrapins.
• Nebraska has faced one of the nation's toughest schedules in 2022-23. As of Feb. 2, Nebraska's NET strength of schedule is third nationally. Michigan State (fifth), Wisconsin (seventh) and Ohio State (10th) and give the Big Ten four teams in the top 10 nationally in strength of schedule in the NET. NU has played a Big Ten-high 11 Quad 1 games as of Feb. 3.
• NU's strength of schedule is second in KenPom as of Feb. 2, which would mark the third time in Fred Hoiberg's four seasons that the Huskers have had a SOS in the top 10 (2019-20, 8th; 2020-21, 4th).
• Juwan Gary's injury in the first meeting against Illinois has hampered the Huskers' rebounding efforts. In Big Ten play, NU is 3-0 when out-rebounding opponents, but winless in conference play when being out-rebounded.
NU had a +2.5 rebounding margin in the 17 games that Gary was in the lineup and the Huskers were on track for its first positive rebounding margin since the 2016-17 season. Since then, NU has been out-rebounded by 7.6 rebounds per game.
• Derrick Walker is averaging a team-high 7.5 rebounds per game to rank 10th in the Big Ten in rebounding as of Feb. 2. 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.
• 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 63-53 win at No. 7 Creighton on Dec. 4 marked the program's fourth-ever road win over a top-10 team and marked the Huskers' first win at Creighton since the 2004 NIT. The No. 7 Bluejays were the highest ranked opponent that NU beat on the road since 1997. As of Feb. 2, it is Creighton's only home loss of the season.
• 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.
• 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.
Numbers to Know
46.3 - Nebraska is shooting 46.3 percent from the field over the last four contests. In the previous five games, NU shot just 43.0 percent from the floor.
8,138 - Miles that Nebraska basketball has traveled in January. Nebraska played its 10th road game of the season at Illinois on Tuesday. As of Feb. 3, the Huskers are the only power conference team to play 10 road games so far this season.
17.5 - Derrick Walker has been a weekend warrior for the Huskers this season. In seven weekend games (Saturday/Sunday), Walker is averaging 17.2 points per game on 62 percent shooting, 8.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
2 - Nebraska's Sam Griesel is one of only two Big Ten players - and 20 players across all of Division I as of Feb. 3 - averaging at least 10.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. He joins Penn State's Jalen Pickett among Big Ten players to achieve the combined numbers.
8 - Prior to Saturday's loss at Maryland, Nebraska was 6-0 this season when shooting at least 50 percent and had won eight straight games when shooting 50 percent or better dating back to last season.
Huskers to Honor Wilbur Wood with Special Edition Jersey
The Huskers and adidas have combined for a special jersey that the Nebraska basketball program will wear three times this month. The Huskers' cream-colored jersey features two distinct pieces. The multi-color pastels along the sides represent the tearing down of obstacles to create something beautiful, while the goldenrods on the lettering show gratitude and appreciation for the contributions of Black individuals within the program over the years. The goldenrod is the state flower of Nebraska.
The men's jersey honors the first African American basketball player in school history, Wilbur Wood. Wood was one of the first black players nationally to gain prominence in collegiate hoops playing for the Huskers from 1908 to 1910. He helped the Huskers to three straight second-place finishes in the Missouri Valley Conference and later coached the Husker freshman team following his college career. The N logo on the front of the jersey is modeled after the jerseys the Huskers wore during Wood's tenure.
About Penn State
Penn State comes into Sunday's matchup with a 14-8 record following Wednesday's 80-60 loss at No. 1 Purdue. 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 are 11-2 at home, but just 1-4 in true road games this season with the lone win coming at Illinois in December. PSU relies on its 3-point shooting, as the Nittany Lions average 10.7 3-pointers per game while shooting 38.5 percent from beyond the arc. PSU also leads the Big Ten in fewest turnovers at 8.6 per game and has not had more than 10 turnovers in a game in Big Ten play this year.
Penn State is an experienced team with four senior starters, including a pair of fifth-year performers and a seventh-year senior. Jalen Pickett is the headliner of the PSU attack, as he ranks in the top 10 in the conference in scoring, rebounding and assists. He has five 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 (14.3 ppg, 43% from 3) and Andrew Funk (12.7 ppg, 40% from 3). PSU has gone with a smaller lineup the last two games with Michael Henn moving into the lineup. Henn has averaged 10.5 ppg, including 5-8 from 3-point range in that span.
Series History: Sunday's game is the 26th meeting with Penn State holding a 14-11 advantage. Since Nebraska joined the Big Ten, the Huskers are 10-12 against the Nittany Lions (10-9 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. The last meeting in Lincoln came during the 2020-21 season when Teddy Allen scored a career-high 41 points in an 86-83 loss to the Nittany Lions.
Last meeting: 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 on Jan. 21. Walker paced the Huskers with 20 points and added six rebounds and six assists. 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 the Huskers 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 57-54 with 8:13 left. That would be as close as Nebraska would get as PSU used a 13-4 run to pull away.