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Huskers Look for Win #20 vs. Maryland

Huskers Look for Win #20 vs. Maryland
Anton Gill and the Huskers look for their sixth straight win on Tuesday night. Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

The Nebraska men’s basketball team looks for its sixth straight win Tuesday night as the Maryland Terrapins visit Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Tipoff at Pinnacle Bank Arena is set for 5 p.m. (MT).

Tuesday’s game will be televised nationally on BTN with Kevin Kugler and Robbie Hummel on the call. The game is available on BTN.com, BTN2Go and the Fox Sports Go app.

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 on the TuneIn Radio app. The radio broadcast begins one hour prior to tipoff.

Nebraska (19-8, 10-4 Big Ten) has been playing its best basketball over the last month, winning seven of its last eight games with the only loss coming at Big Ten leader Ohio State. On Saturday, the Huskers limited Rutgers to 35 percent shooting in a 67-55 victory. James Palmer Jr. had 15 points and four assists to pace four Huskers in double figures, while Isaiah Roby posted his second double-double of the year with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Roby, a 6-foot-8 sophomore forward, has emerged in recent weeks, averaging 10.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game over the Huskers’ last five contests.

The win over Rutgers kept the Huskers one game ahead of Michigan in fourth place in the Big Ten standings heading into the final two weeks of the season. If the Huskers can win on Tuesday, it would mark NU’s first 20-win season in a decade and give NU six straight conference wins for the first time in 20 years.

Maryland (17-10, 6-8 Big Ten) is coming off one of its best wins of the season, a 73-57 victory over Northwestern on Saturday. Sophomore Kevin Huerter led the Terrapins with 22 points and five boards to pace four Maryland players in double figures. Huerter (14.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.5 apg) and sophomore guard Anthony Cowan (16.2 ppg, 5.0 apg, 4.4 rpg) give Maryland a pair of playmakers who are among the best in the Big Ten.

Tuesday’s Game is Red Cross Night, as Husker student-athletes will be collecting for the Red Cross at Halftime

OPENING NUMBER
.640 – Shooting percentage for sophomore Jordy Tshimanga of the last seven games. He is averaging 5.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game in just under 13 minutes per game in that stretch.

NUMBERS TO KNOW
1 – Block that Isaiah Roby needs to become the fifth Husker sophomore with 50 or more blocks, joining Mikki Moore, Venson Hamilton, John Turek and Rich King.

1.25 – Nebraska’s 1.25-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio is on track to be one of the best in school history. Here are the top six seasons dating back to the 1978-79 campaign.

Year     Asst.-to-TO ratio
1984-85  1.81
1985-86  1.64
1983-84  1.34
1981-82  1.29
1979-80  1.28
1982-83  1.25
2017-18  1.25

7 – Points Glynn Watson Jr. needs to become the 29th Husker to reach 1,000 career points. He would be the fourth Husker under Tim Miles to reach that plateau.

70 – Nebraska is 14-2 when scoring 70 or more points and 5-6 when held to under 70 points. Nebraska’s only two losses when scoring 70+ points was a one-point loss to Kansas and a two-point OT loss at Penn State.

SCOUTING MARYLAND
Maryland comes into Tuesday’s game with a 17-10 record and are 6-8 in Big Ten action heading into the last two weeks of the season. Coach Mark Turgeon’s team has been hit by injuries, losing a pair of starters (Justin Jackson and Ivan Bender) to season-ending injuries. Despite the injuries, Maryland has been competitive behind a pair of sophomore returnees in Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter. Cowan has been one of the best guards in the Big Ten and averages 16.2 ppg along with 5.0 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. He also gets to the foul line, as he ranks among the Big Ten leaders with 169 attempts from the foul line. Huerter is a skilled forward who shoots 51 percent from the field, including 44 percent from 3-point range. On the season, he is averaging 14.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Freshman Bruno Fernando and Darryl Morsell have provided a boost to the Terrapins lineup. Fernando averages 9.4 points per game and is shooting 56 percent from the field while hauling in 6.1 rebounds per game. Morsell is at 9.1 points and 4.3 caroms per game. As a team, Maryland shoots 48 percent from the field, including 39 percent from 3-point range and paces in the conference in free throw percentage (.753).

SERIES HISTORY
Tuesday meeting with Maryland is the sixth meeting between the two teams, all since the Terrapins joined the Big Ten. Maryland leads the series, 4-1, with four of the five previous meetings decided by five points or less. Last year, the Huskers overcame a 13-point second-half deficit to post a 67-65 win.  The Huskers do have some history with Mark Turgeon, going 2-3 against him when he served as head coach at Texas A&M from 2007-08 to 2010-11. Both of NU’s wins came over ranked Texas A&M teams, including a 65-59 win over the No. 22 Aggies in College Station in 2008 and a 57-48 victory over No. 13 Texas A&M in Lincoln in 2011.

LAST MEETING VS. MARYLAND
Tai Webster finished with 18 points, including a go-ahead layup with 31.2 seconds left, as Nebraska rallied from a 13-point deficit in the last seven minutes to stun Maryland, 67-65. Webster, who battled foul trouble for most of the second half, keyed the Husker rally, scoring NU’s last seven points in the final 2:32 as Nebraska scored the last 14 points to hand Maryland just its second home loss in Big Ten play since the Terrapins joined the Big Ten.

Nebraska trailed 64-51, but rallied behind the Husker frontcourt, as Ed Morrow Jr. and Michael Jacobson got some timely baskets as the Huskers began whittling away the deficit, as Jacobson’s two free throws with 3:19 left made it a five-point game before Webster took over down the stretch.

Maryland, which was held to 35 percent shooting, missed its last nine shots from the field and committed three turnovers in the final six minutes, giving the Huskers a chance to rally. The Terrapins had two possessions in the final 30 seconds, but the Husker defense held firm, forcing a turnover on one possession before forcing a pair of Melo Trimble misses in the final 10 seconds.

Webster finished with a team-high 18 points, along with five rebounds and five assists to pace three Huskers in double figures. Glynn Watson Jr. added 17 points and three steals, while Michael Jacobson finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.

LAST TIME OUT
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.

With its fifth win in a row, Nebraska improves to 19-8 on the year and 10-4 in the Big Ten, as the Cornhuskers maintain fourth-place in the league.

Four Huskers finished in double figures, as Glynn Watson Jr. and Isaac Copeland both added 11 points a piece. Jordy Tshimanga continued his strong play inside, as he had eight points off the bench.

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. Palmer led NU with nine points before the break, while Copeland added seven as seven different Huskers scored in the opening half.

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.

GOING FOR NO. 20
Nebraska will be looking for its 20th win of the season on Tuesday against Maryland. Nebraska has won 20 regular-season games just five times in its 122-year history and not since the 1992-93 season. In fact, the Huskers have won 20 or more games just 12 times in program history and not since the 2007-08 season.

ABOUT NEBRASKA
*-Nebraska comes into Tuesday’s game with a 19-8 record which is the best 27-game mark since the 1990-91 season when the Huskers were 22-5 after 27 games. The 19 wins matches the most in Tim Miles’ six seasons at Nebraska.

*-Nebraska picked up its 10th conference win of the season in Saturday’s win over Rutgers, marking just the 12th time that the Huskers have won 10 or more conference games. The 10-4 mark is NU’s best conference mark since finishing the 1975-76 campaign with a 10-4 Big Eight record. A win on Tuesday would give NU 11 conference wins for just the fifth time in school history and second time in five seasons.

*-Nebraska is 13-1 in home games this season with the only loss coming in a one-point setback against then-No. 13 Kansas on Dec. 16. The 13 home wins is already NU’s highest total since going 15-1 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in the 2013-14 campaign. Three of Nebraska’s final four games are at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

*-With Purdue’s loss to Ohio State on Wednesday, Nebraska now has the longest home winning streak in the Big Ten at eight games dating back to Dec. 20.

*-Nebraska has won its three conference home games by double-figures, the first time that has happened for the Huskers since the 1997-98 season. Nebraska has only won four or more consecutive conference games by double figures twice since WWII and both spanned parts of two seasons  (4, 1981-82 and 1982-83; 5, 1973-74 and 1974-75).

*-Nebraska’s defense has been its calling card in Big Ten action. The Huskers are third in field goal defense (.403) and held 11 of their last 13 opponents under 45 percent. Since Jan. 1, the Huskers are holding opponents to .404 shooting.

*-Of Nebraska’s five losses dating back to Dec. 9, NU lost twice in the last 30 seconds (vs. No. 13 Kansas, at PSU) and had two others where NU was within a point in the last four minutes (at Creighton, at No. 13 OSU).

*-The Huskers are averaging 73.7 points per game and is on track for one of the best offensive seasons in recent years. NU’s 73.7 points per game is NU’s best average through the first 27 games since the 1995-96 season.

*-Nebraska’s 98 points against Iowa marked the Huskers’ highest total in a conference game since scoring 99 against Kansas State on Feb. 9, 2002. The Huskers’ previous Big Ten era high was 93 points in a double overtime win over Iowa on Jan. 5, 2017.

*-Nebraska’s biggest offensive strength has been a balanced attack with three players averaging double figures, led by James Palmer Jr., who averages a team-high 17.6 points per game to lead all Big Ten newcomers in scoring. Palmer is currently on track to enjoy one of the top first-year seasons in school history, as the top three first-year scorers have been in Tim Miles’ six seasons at Nebraska.

*-James Palmer Jr. enjoyed one of the most prolific scoring performances in school history at No. 13 Ohio State on Jan. 22 with his 34-point effort against the Buckeyes. It marked the second-highest scoring effort in a road game in school history and the most on the road by a Husker since 2006.

*-Palmer has shown the ability to get to the foul line, as he leads the Big Ten with 188 attempts through Sunday’s games. Maryland’s Anthony Cowan Jr. is second with 169. Palmer now ranks ninth on NU’s single-season free throws made list with 142, and has the potential to move into the top five (Aleks Maric, 147, 2006-07) on Tuesday.

*-Palmer is averaging 19.6 points per game in Big Ten play, and is on track to be the first Husker to average at least 20 points per game in conference play since current Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue averaged 21.8 points per game in 1997-98.

*-Nebraska relies on a pair of transfers in James Palmer Jr. (Miami) and Isaac Copeland (Georgetown), as the duo combines for more than 30 points per game. In all, 48.1 percent of the Huskers’ offense this year has been by players in their first year in the program.

*-Nebraska’s 11-point deficit at Wisconsin on Jan. 29 was its largest comeback of the season (previous high was seven at Northwestern on Jan. 2) and the seventh time under Tim Miles that Nebraska has overcome a 10-point deficit. Over the past two years, NU has won three road games while overcoming a double-digit deficit, matching NU’s total from the previous 20 years.

*-Two Huskers are nearing 1,000 career points heading into this week, as Glynn Watson Jr. has 993 points, while Isaac Copeland has 980 career points, which includes his two-plus seasons at Georgetown.

*-Duby Okeke ranks 10th among all active Division I players with 191 career blocked shots. Okeke had a season-high four blocked shots against Rutgers on Saturday.

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