The No. 24/25 Nebraska men’s basketball team looks to bounce back as they face one of the biggest tests of the non-conference season when they host the Creighton Bluejays on Saturday evening. Tipoff from a sold-out Pinnacle Bank Arena is set for 5:10 p.m.
The matchup between the Huskers and Bluejays will be televised nationally on BTN with Kevin Kugler and Robbie Hummel on the call. Saturday’s game will also be available on BTN.com and the BTN2Go and Fox Sports Go apps 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 SiriusXM radio. The pregame show begins one hour prior to tipoff on many of the Husker Sports Network affiliates.
The Huskers are 7-2 on the season following an 85-78 loss at Minnesota on Wednesday night. Nebraska built a 13-point second-half lead, but strong shooting from Minnesota in the second half thwarted Nebraska’s attempt for a second straight win in Minneapolis. The Golden Gophers shot 57 percent in the second half and 52 percent on the night, becoming the first Husker opponent to shoot over 50 percent in 35 games dating back to last year. Nebraska was in the top-five nationally in scoring defense and field goal defense before Wednesday’s loss.
Amir Coffey led all scorers with a game-high 32 for Minnesota, including 14-of-17 from the foul line. As a team, the Golden Gophers went 24-of-32 from the foul line against NU.
Isaac Copeland Jr. had 17 points and seven rebounds to pace four Huskers in double figures. Isaiah Roby had a season-high 15 points and three blocked shots, while Glynn Watson Jr. and James Palmer Jr. added 14 and 11 points, respectively. Freshman Brady Heiman also turned in a strong performance off the bench with nine points on 4-of-4 shooting and five rebounds.
Creighton is 6-2 on the season and has been off since a 103-92 loss to top-ranked Gonzaga one week ago. In that game, the Bluejays led by as many as 11 before the Bulldogs outscored Creighton, 62-44, in the second half. Ty-Shon Alexander led three Bluejays in double figures with 27 points, including five 3-pointers.
16 – The Huskers will be looking for their 17th straight home win on Saturday which would be NU’s longest home win streak since a school-record 20-game streak spanning the 1965-66 and 1966-67 seasons.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
1 – Nebraska has been ranked for only one previous meeting against Creighton, a 100-83 victory on Dec. 10, 1992, at the Devaney Center. That game, the Huskers were ranked 25th.
.370 – Nebraska is 12th nationally in field goal defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 37.0 percent from the field.
6 – Number of 20-point games for Husker players this season. James Palmer Jr. has three while Isaac Copeland (two) and Glynn Watson Jr. (one) also have accomplished the feat.
13 – The Huskers have had 13 runs of at least 10-0 in 2018-19, including a 22-0 run against Southeastern Louisiana and a 19-0 run against Western Illinois. The Huskers have allowed two double-figure runs this season.
2010-11 – Nebraska bids for an 8-2 start for the first time since the 2010-11 season on Saturday.
103 – Nebraska’s loss on Wednesday marked just the eighth time in the last 103 games that the Huskers lost when leading at the 5:00 mark.
The Bluejays come into Saturday’s meeting with a 6-2 mark and have been off since a 103-92 loss to No. 1 Gonzaga on Dec. 1. The Bluejays went 12-12 before losing to Kansas State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament a year ago and returned a pair of starters and eight letterwiners. This season, Creighton won six of its first seven games, including a neutral site win over Clemson, before falling last Saturday.
Creighton’s strength is an offensive attack that averages 84.6 points per game and is shooting 53 percent from the field and 46 percent from 3-point range. Sophomore Ty-Shon Alexander leads the Bluejays with 19.4 points per game while leading CU with 30 3-pointers. Transfer Damien Jackson (12.3 ppg) and Mitch Ballock (10.8 ppg) give the Bluejays a pair of double-figure threats. Jefferson also leads Creighton with 5.6 rebounds per game.
Greg McDermott is in his ninth year at CU after coaching at Iowa State, Northern Iowa, North Dakota State and Wayne State. McDermott and NU Head Coach Tim Miles have squared off several times during their days at the Division II level and have met seven times while leading Division I programs: a 67-54 Iowa State win over North Dakota State in 2006-07 and Creighton’s victories in the last six matchups between the two schools.
Nebraska and Creighton are meeting for the 52nd time in series history on Saturday, as Creighton holds a 26-25 lead. It is the longest non-conference series on the Huskers’ schedule. The home team has won 10 of the last 13 years, while Nebraska looks to snap a seven-game losing streak in the series. The Huskers’ last win in the series was a 59-54 win over the Bluejays in 2010-11.
LAST TIME vs. CREIGHTON
Isaac Copeland had a team-high 20 points, but Marcus Foster’s 3-pointer with 47 seconds left gave host Creighton the cushion it needed in a 75-65 win over Nebraska at the CenturyLink Center.
Nebraska was within 66-63 after a James Palmer jumper with 1:04 remaining, but Foster’s long 3-pointer from the wing pushed the margin to six, and Creighton sealed the win by going 6-of-6 from the line in the final 30 seconds. The Huskers, who were without Glynn Watson Jr., who had fouled out with 2:47 left, was able to keep it close before Foster’s 3-pointer started a game-ending 9-2 run for the Bluejays.
Copeland, who had 20 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks and two steals, was one of three to finish in double figures. James Palmer Jr. had 16 points, while Isaiah Roby had 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting after playing just two minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. Foster’s 19-point effort led five Creighton players in double figures, as the Bluejays shot 50 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Huskers, 43-33.
LAST TIME OUT
Nebraska led by double-digits with 10 minutes to play Wednesday night at Minnesota, but the Huskers could not hold the lead down the stretch in an 85-78 loss to the Golden Gophers at Williams Arena.
Nebraska led for much of the game and was on top 67-56 midway through the second half. But the Husker offense went cold from there and Minnesota’s offense caught fire, as the Gophers outscored Nebraska 29-11 over the game’s final 10 minutes. During that stretch, Nebraska was just 3-of-12 from the field, while Minnesota was 9-of-16.
The Gophers used a 9-0 run to turn a five-point deficit into a 77-73 lead with 2:26 remaining, and the Huskers were never able to get closer than two the rest of the way. Minnesota won by shooting 51.8 percent from the field – including 57.1 percent in the second half – becoming the first Husker opponent in 35 games to shoot better than 50 percent.
Amir Coffey paced the Gopher offense with a career-high 32 points, including 18 in the second half while Jordan Murphy had a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Nebraska shot 45.9 percent on the game, but the Huskers hit only 38 percent of their shots in the second half. It was a balanced night offensively for the Big Red as six Huskers finished with at least nine points. Isaac
Copeland Jr. had 17 points and Isaiah Roby added 15 points, but both players fouled out down the stretch. Glynn Watson Jr. had 14 points and James Palmer Jr. rounded out Nebraska’s double-figure scorers with 11 points, but he was held scoreless in the second half.
- Saturday afternoon could be a busy one for Husker fans, as the NU volleyball team could be making an attempt at a fourth straight NCAA semifinal appearance as well. Both the NU-CU game and Minneapolis regional final begin at 5 p.m. (CT).
- Saturday’s game could be one of the largest crowds in Pinnacle Bank Arena history. In all, 10 games have exceeded 15,900 fans in the 15,000-seat arena, including the school record 15,998 on No-Sit Sunday vs. No. 9 Wisconsin on March 9, 2014. NU’s largest non-conference attendance was 15,987 against Tennessee Martin on Nov. 18, 2014.
- Nebraska’s roster features four in-state players, including senior Tanner Borchardt, who was put on scholarship in 2017-18 and 2018-19, as well as freshman Brady Heiman, who comes off a nine-point, five rebound performance on Wednesday at Minnesota. Other Nebraska natives on the 2018-19 Husker team include Omaha natives Johnny Trueblood and Justin Costello.
- Nebraska looks to extend its home win streak to 17 games on Saturday. If the Huskers beat Creighton, it would be Nebraska’s longest home win streak since winning a school-record 20 games spanning 1965-66 and 1966-67 seasons.
- Nebraska is 98-12 (.891) in non-conference games since the start of the 2006-07 season, including 35-7 (.833) since Pinnacle Bank Arena opened in 2013.
- James Palmer Jr. needs 17 points to reach 1,000 for his career. He has scored 725 of his 983 career points at Nebraska and would be the third current Husker with 1,000+ points, joining Glynn Watson Jr. and Isaac Copeland Jr.
- The Huskers snapped one Big East streak in November with its 80-57 win over Seton Hall. That ended a streak of seven straight losses to Big East teams as well as gave NU its first-ever Gavitt Games win. The Big Ten won the annual Gavitt Tipoff Games, 5-3.
- Nebraska is 36-20 all-time as a ranked team dating back to the 1949-50 season following Wednesday’s loss to Minnesota.
- Glynn Watson Jr. comes into the Creighton game in 20th place on NU’s career scoring list with 1,172 points. He is just 11 points shy of passing Brian Carr (1,182) for 19th place. He is also four steals away from 150 in that category and four 3-pointers from 10th place on NU’s all-time list.
- All three of the Huskers who reached double figures in last year’s matchup in Omaha return, including Isaac Copeland Jr., who had his first double-double at Nebraska (20 points, 11 rebounds) in the meeting. James Palmer Jr. had 16 points, while Isaiah Roby added 10 points off the bench. In all, 54 of NU’s 65 points return.
HUSKERS JUMP INTO TOP 25
The Nebraska men’s basketball team is ranked 24th in the Associated Press poll released Monday. It marks the first time that the Huskers are nationally ranked by the AP since Nov. 17, 2014, when Nebraska was 21st. The Huskers are also ranked 25th in the USA Today’s coaches poll released Monday afternoon. NU was ranked in the first two polls before losing to Texas Tech on Nov. 20.
The Huskers are one of seven Big Ten teams ranked by the AP this week. NU is joined by Michigan (5), Michigan State (10), Wisconsin (12), Iowa (18), Ohio State (19) and Maryland (23). In addition, Purdue and Indiana are also receiving votes in Monday’s poll. It marks the second straight week that seven Big Ten teams are ranked. Prior to last week, that had not happened since Feb. 9, 1999.
DOING IT WITH DEFENSE
Nebraska’s biggest improvements came on the defensive end in 2017-18, going 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 in the early stages of the 2018-19 season.
- Despite the performance at Minnesota, Nebraska ranks in the top-15 nationally in scoring defense (57.9 ppg, sixth), field goal defense (.370, 12th) and 3-point defense (.261, 12th). The Huskers also lead the Big Ten in blocked shots (5.4 bpg) and is second in steals (8.3 spg).
- Minnesota became the first team to shoot over 50 percent against Nebraska in the last 35 games dating back to last season.
- NU limited five of its nine 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 32nd in Kenpom’s adjusted defense through Wednesday’s games.
- Nebraska held its first two opponents under 40 points, the first time the Huskers held consecutive foes under 40 points since 1949.
- Under Miles, the Huskers are 47-5 (.904) when holding opponents under 60 points.
HUSKER OFFENSE GETS INTO HIGH GEAR
Nebraska comes into the Creighton game averaging 78.2 points per game after averaging 72.3 points per game last year. NU has scored at least 70 points in seven of nine contests, including four games of at least 80 points.
- 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.
- The Huskers scored 106 points in the opener against Mississippi Valley State. It was the Huskers’ highest total since scoring 107 against North Carolina A&T on Dec. 19, 2005.
- NU has already had seven players score in double figures, including six against Southeastern Louisiana on Nov. 11.
- The Huskers had three players – James Palmer Jr., Isaac Copeland Jr. and Glynn Watson Jr. – with 20-point performances.
- Nebraska is 26th nationally in offensive efficiency according to KenPom through Wednesday’s games.
The quick start 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 season.
- Nebraska’s 3,432 returning points ranks 13th nationally entering the 2018-19 season. Among Big Ten programs, only Iowa, which has 4,246 returning points, has more.
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 17.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
- He is first or second on the Huskers in scoring (first) and assists (second), while he is sixth in the Big Ten in scoring.
- Palmer collected his 20-point game of the year in NU’s Big Ten opener against Illinois with a game-high 23 points, including 12-of-14 at the foul line and a team-high four assists.
- 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 a season-high 29 points against Seton Hall, the second-highest scoring night in his career, as he scored 18 of his points in the second half.
- Palmer has shown the ability to get to the free throw line often, as he ranks in the top-20 nationally in both free throws (52, 16th) and attempts (65, 19th).
- Palmer has reached double figures in 39 of 42 career games at Nebraska, as he saw his streak of 17 straight games in double figures snapped against Missouri State on Nov. 19.
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.
- He is one of only five returning power conference players who averaged 17.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 3.0 apg last season.
WATSON KEYS HUSKER ATTACK
For Coach Tim Miles, senior Glynn Watson Jr. is a luxury, as he begins his fourth year as Nebraska’s starting guard. Watson moved into the role midway through his freshman year and has made his mark in the Husker program.
Watson comes into Saturday’s game averaging 14.6 points per game on 51 percent shooting, including 47 percent from 3-point range. He is also averaging career bests in assists (3.7 apg), rebounds (4.3 rpg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.2-to-1).
- Watson has been in double figures in eight of nine contests and has had multiple 3-pointers eight times in NU’s nine contests.
- He had 14 points along with a team-high four assists at Minneasota.
- Watson played well despite foul trouble against Illinois with 14 points, six rebounds and three assists.
- Watson nearly posted his first career double-double with 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 2.13-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio and has more steals (146) than turnovers (142) 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), setting personal bests in all three areas and earning honorable-mention All-Big Ten honors.
Copeland has improved his numbers across the board in 2018-19, as he averages 15.3 points and a team-high 6.0 rebounds per game while shooting 56 percent from the field.
- Copeland has reached double figures eight times in eight games, including a pair of 20-point efforts.
- He topped the Huskers 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 a season-high 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 (Philadephia).
- 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.
COPELAND NAMED TO SENIOR CLASS AWARD LIST
Isaac Copeland Jr. was named as one of 30 candidates for the 2019 Senior CLASS Award. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School ®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
Copeland has been instrumental in the Huskers’ success over the last two seasons, starting every game since arriving on campus and earning honorable-mention All-Big Ten honors. In the classroom, he received his degree from Nebraska in May of 2018 and is currently working on a master’s degree.
ROBY FILLS STAT SHEET
Isaiah Roby compliments the Husker attack with a unique skill set. The 6-foot-8 junior comes into the Creighton game averaging 9.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.4 blocks per game.
He leads the Huskers in blocked shots and is second in steals and rebounding. Roby is the only Big Ten player in the top-10 in blocks and steals while he is one of only three power conference players to average 1.4 blocks and 1.4 steals per game.
- Roby comes off one of the best performances of the year at Minnesota, finishing with 15 points, four rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
- He turned in a strong performance against Missouri State with 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots.
- 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).
- Nebraska is 18-6 since moving Roby into the starting lineup midway through Big Ten play last season. Roby has all four of his career double-doubles in that stretch.
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.
FILLING UP PINNACLE BANK ARENA
Pinnacle Bank Arena will be full once again in 2018-19, as the NU Athletic Ticket Office announced on September 25 that general public season tickets were sold out for the 2018-19 season. It is the fourth time in the past six seasons that the Huskers have sold out their entire season allotment of tickets at Pinnacle Bank Arena. In all, nearly 15,000 season tickets have been sold for the 2018-19 season, including the Red Zone student section. Most of the available single-game tickets for the entire season have been sold as well.
Since moving into PBA in 2013-14, the Huskers have ranked in the top-15 in attendance nationally all five years, and are one of only nine schools in the country to average 15,000+ fans per contest in that span.
PROTECTING THE VAULT
The Huskers have been strong at protecting its home court at Pinnacle Bank Arena since it opened in 2013-14.
- NU has won its last 16 games at home following the 75-60 win over Illinois on Dec. 2. The win streak is the longest among power conference schools and seventh-longest home win streak nationally. It is NU’s longest home win streak since also winning 16 straight spanning the 1981-82 and 1982-83 seasons.
- Of the 16 wins in the current streak, 11 have come by double-digits, including all five in 2018-19.
- NU has posted a 64-24 (.727) record in Pinnacle Bank Arena since it opened in 2013.
- Nebraska went a perfect 9-0 at home in Big Ten play in 2017-18, the first time NU went unbeaten in conference play at home since the 1965-66 season.
MILES CLIMBS UP VICTORY LIST
Nebraska Coach Tim Miles became the fifth Husker coach to win 100 games when the Huskers topped Seton Hall on Nov. 14. Miles has climbed to fourth on NU’s victory list and needs only three wins to pass Moe Iba for third place on the Huskers’ career wins chart.
ALLEN MAKES IMPACT FOR KIDS
Sophomore guard Thomas Allen coordinated a back-to-school drive for the kids of Everett Elementary School in Lincoln. Allen spearheaded the efforts, using traditional and social media to get the word out on the event, which took place on Aug. 4. In all, more than five vans of materials were donated that day with other Husker teams and university staffers making contributions for the event. Allen, Nana Akenten and Isaiah Roby are now coordinating a coat drive for the school this winter.