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Huskers look to keep miracle run alive in Big Ten Tournament

Huskers look to keep miracle run alive in Big Ten Tournament
Isaiah Roby and the Huskers take on Wisconsin Friday at 1:45 p.m. Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications
The Husker men’s basketball team looks to knock off its second straight ranked opponent Friday afternoon, as Nebraska takes on No. 19 Wisconsin in the Big Ten quarterfinals.
Tipoff from the United Center is set for 1:45 p.m. (central) or 25 minutes following the end of the Ohio State/Michigan State game and the game will be televised nationally on BTN with Dave O’Brien, Jon Crispin and Rick Pizzo on the call. The matchup will also be available on the Fox Sports App and BTN2Go 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 both Sirius and XM Radio. The pregame show begins one hour prior to tipoff on many of the Husker Sports Network affiliates (affiliate list on page 7 of the game notes).
The Huskers (18-15) come off one of their best performances of the season, knocking off No. 21 Maryland, 69-61, on Thursday in the second round.  James Palmer Jr. had 25 points, five rebounds and three assists to pace three Huskers in double figures, while Glynn Watson Jr. added 19 points, four rebounds and three assists.
The story of the afternoon was Nebraska’s defense, which limited Maryland to 36 percent shooting and forced 11 turnovers. The Huskers limited All-Big Ten performer Bruno Fernando to three points on 1-of-4 shooting and eight rebounds  after he averaged 15.5 ppg and 17.0 rpg in the two regular-season meetings.
Nebraska, which dressed just eight players because of injuries, continued to get contributions from unexpected sources. Johnny Trueblood had five points, four rebounds and two assists, while Thorir Thorbjarnarson added four points and a career-high five steals.
Wisconsin (22-9) is the fourth seed and has been off since a 73-67 overtime win over Ohio State on Sunday. First-team All-Big Ten forward Ethan Happ leads the Badgers in scoring (17.8 ppg), rebounding (10.4 rpg) and assists (4.7 apg), while guards D’Mitrik Trice (11.9 ppg) and Brad Davison (10.9 ppg) help balance the Badgers attack.
The winner of Friday’s game will play either top-seeded Michigan State or eighth-seeded Ohio State in the first semifinal Saturday at Noon. Nebraska is looking for its first conference semifinal appearance since 2006.
OPENING NUMBER
25 – Nebraska has played 25 games this season against Quad 1 or 2 teams in the NET, a total which is tied for second nationally. Only Kansas (26) has played more games against the top two quadrants as of Thursday’s games.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
5- Steals by Thorir Thorbjarnson against Maryland. The total not also matched a team season high, but also was more than his career total (four) in 30 career games entering Thursday.
28 – Number of 20-point games for Husker players in 2018-19. James Palmer Jr. has 17 while Isaiah Roby (four), Glynn Watson Jr. (four) and Isaac Copeland Jr. (three) also enjoyed 20-point games this season.
+48 – Johnny Trueblood’s plus/minus over the last three games, which spans 77 minutes of action. Prior to the Iowa game last Sunday, Trueblood had played just 32 minutes all season and 61 minutes in his collegiate career.
72 – Number of 3-pointers for Glynn Watson Jr., which is seventh on NU’s single-season list. He is six away from sixth place (Cary Cochran, 2000-01, Tyronn Lue 1997-98).
651 – Points for James Palmer Jr., which ranks third on NU’s single-season chart. Only Tyronn Lue (678, 1997-98) and Dave  Hoppen (704, 1984-85) have scored more points in a season than Palmer.
YESTERDAY: NEBRASKA 69, MARYLAND 61
The Nebraska men’s basketball team built a double-digit lead late in the first half, and the Huskers never trailed again in a 69-61 upset of No. 21 Maryland Thursday afternoon in a second-round Big Ten Tournament matchup at the United Center.
Nebraska (18-15) led for more than 33 minutes and trailed for just 2:19, advancing to Friday’s quarterfinal matchup with No. 4 seed and 19th-ranked Wisconsin.
The Huskers held Maryland to 36 percent shooting and just 18 field goals, marking the Terrapins’ fourth-worst shooting percentage of the season and second-fewest field goals. Nebraska also limited a talented Maryland frontcourt to just 22 points in the paint, and the Huskers recorded eight steals.
Offensively, Nebraska got 58 points from its big three of James Palmer Jr., Glynn Watson Jr. and Isaiah Roby. Palmer hit 8-of-13 shots en route to a game-high 24 points, while Watson scored 19 points and Roby added 15 points, six rebounds and three blocks. But the victory was a true team effort, as the Huskers got two points and a game-high nine rebounds from Tanner Borchardt, a career-high five points and four rebounds from Johnny Trueblood and four points, four rebounds and a career-high five steals from Thorir Thorbjarnarson.
Anthony Cowan led Maryland (22-10) with 18 points, while Darryl Morsell chipped in 14 points and Eric Ayala scored 12 points. Nebraska held first-team All-Big Ten pick Bruno Fernando to a season-low three points in 35 minutes.
WORTH NOTING
•-Friday’s game features two of the best ball-handling teams in the country, as Wisconsin is fifth in turnovers per game at 9.5, while Nebraska is seventh at 9.8 per game.
•-Wisconsin is the 11th ranked team the Huskers have faced this season, setting a single-season school record.
•-James Palmer Jr. is the only Big Ten player and one of six power conference players nationally averaging 19.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game. The last Big Ten player to do it was former Big Ten Player of the Year Denzel Valentine of Michigan State in 2015-16.
•-According to Kenpom, Nebraska’s strength of schedule is fourth nationally as of March 13, as six of the 10 toughest schedules (and 11 of the top 20)  are by Big Ten teams.
•- Since joining the Big Ten in 2011-12, this year will mark the fifth time in eight years that Nebraska has had a top-20 schedule according to the Kenpom rankings.
•-James Palmer Jr. has been to the foul line 268 times, a total which ranks eighth in the Big Ten over the last 25 years.
•-Palmer has four 30-point games at Nebraska a total that ranks fifth in school history. Only four players in school history have had more 30-point games at NU (Dave Hoppen – 7; Tyronn
Lue – 7; Aleks Maric – 6 and Jerry Fort – 5).
•-Glynn Watson Jr. has been playing some of his best basketball down the stretch, averaging 18.8 ppg on 45 percent shooting over the last six games dating back to Feb. 23. Watson is also shooting 47 percent from 3-point range (21-of-45) in that stretch.
•-Nebraska is 36th nationally in offensive efficiency according to Kenpom through March 14. Only the 2003-04 team (25th) has had a more efficient offense in the Kenpom’s rankings since the site began tracking data in 2000-01.
•-Nebraska is 16-7 when averaging at least one point per possession this season, but 2-8 when held under one point per possession.
•-Thorir Thorbjarnarson became the 11th different Husker to lead NU in steals in a game this year with his five against Maryland. It also tied for NU’s single-game high in 2018-19 (Thomas Allen vs. Missouri St.; James Palmer Jr. at Maryland).
•-Isaiah Roby has 12 blocked shots in his last three Big Ten Tournament games and is three blocks shy of Venson Hamilton’s NU conference tournament record of 15 in six games (1996-99).
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