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Huskers Take on Penn State Tuesday Night

Huskers Take on Penn State Tuesday Night
(Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications)

The Nebraska men’s basketball team begins the final stretch of the regular season Tuesday night, as the Huskers will host the Penn State Nittany Lions at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Tipoff between the Huskers and Nittany Lions is set for shortly after 7 p.m.

Tuesday’s game will be televised on BTN with Larry Punteney and Shon Morris on the call. The game can also be streamed via the web, smartphones, tablets and connected devices through the Fox Sports app.

Fans can follow all of the action across the state of Nebraska on the Learfield IMG College Husker Sports Network with Kent Pavelka and Jake Muhleisen on the call. The game will also be available on Huskers.com, the Huskers app and TuneIn radio. The pregame show begins one hour prior to tipoff.

Tuesday’s game begins a stretch where the Huskers play four times in eight days, but three of the four are at Pinnacle Bank Arena. It is also the second matchup between the two schools in the past 10 days, as the Huskers earned a 62-61 road win at Penn State on Feb. 14.

The Huskers (5-15, 1-12 Big Ten) come off a 75-58 loss to Purdue on Saturday. The Huskers led 49-46 with just over 13 minutes left before the Boilermakers used a 19-4 run to seize the momentum. The Huskers got a strong performances from its reserves, who combined for 37 points and 20 rebounds. Shamiel Stevenson, Thorir Thorbjarnarson and Kobe Webster combined for 28 points, while Yvan Ouedraogo had even points and eight rebounds. The group helped NU erase an 11-point first-half deficit and put the Huskers in position entering the final 10 minutes.

Thorbjarnarson may have played his best game of the season, as he set season bests in points (nine) and 3-pointers (three) while also contributing four assists, four rebounds and two blocked shots. He has been a mainstay off the bench and has an 8-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in seven games dating back to Feb. 8.

Penn State (7-12, 4-11 Big Ten) played well in a 74-68 loss at No. 11 Iowa on Sunday. Myreon Jones and Izaiah Brockington had 11 points each, as the Nittany Lions led 41-36 halftime lead and led by as many as seven points in the second half before Iowa rallied. The Hawkeyes held PSU to 31 percent shooting after halftime and got a game-high 23 points from Luka Garza. Three of PSU’s last four losses have been by six points or less.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT
Kobe Webster has provided a spark off the bench in recent games. Over the past four contests, the senior guard is averaging 8.3 points per game while shooting 39 percent from 3-point range.

NUMBERS TO KNOW
.358 – The Huskers have made steady shooting improvement from 3-point range since returning from their pause. NU shot .234 in the first three games after returning from its pause, but is shooting .358 over the last five games. NU has knocked down at least eight 3-pointers in each of the last three games.

4 – According to KenPom, the Huskers’ strength of schedule ranks fourth nationally as of Feb. 21.

5 – Nebraska has five games with at least 10 steals this season after having just two in 2019-20. Penn State and Nebraska rank second and third in the Big Ten, respectively, in steals.

9 – NU has nine 20-point performances on the season (Teddy Allen-7; Trey McGowens-1; Kobe Webster-1). In addition, NU has had nine players reach double figures at least once this season and nearly had a 10th as Thorir Thorbjarnarson had nine points in Saturday’s loss to Purdue.

11.0 – NU has averaged 11.0 turnovers in the past three contests, a significant drop from the 16.2 the Huskers averaged the first five games after returning to action.

48 – Nebraska is 48th nationally in tempo according to KenPom as of Feb. 21. The Huskers are one of only three Big Ten teams (also Illinois and Iowa) in the top 100.

SCOUTING PENN STATE
The Nittany Lions are led by interim coach Jim Ferry, who was on the staff for three seasons before being named the interim coach in the fall. Ferry has been a collegiate head coach for 20 seasons, including stops at Plymouth (N.H.) State, Adelphi (N.Y.), Long Island University-Brooklyn and Duquesne.

Penn State returned four starters from a team that went 21-10 and was on its way to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011 before the COVID-19 pandemic ened the 2019-20 season. The Nittany Lions went 3-1 in non-conference play including a 20-point win at Virginia Tech and a three-point win over VCU. The only blemish was a 92-88 overtime los to Seton Hall. PSU was 0-3 in conference play when the Nittany Lions had to pause in early January, but are 4-8 since returning to action on Jan. 17, including wins over Rutgers, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Maryland.

The Nittany Lions use an eight-man rotation which features a trio of double-figure scorers in Myreon Jones (14.9 ppg), Izaiah Brockington (13.5 ppg) and Seth Lundy (10.5 ppg) and two others that average at least eight points per game. Jones, Lundy and Myles Dread have combined for 110 of PSU’s 168 3-pointers on the season. John Harrar averages 8.9 points on 57 percent shooting and a team-high 8.5 rebounds per game. PSU is disruptive on the defensive end, ranking second in the Big Ten with 7.8 steals per game.

Series History: Tuesday’s game is the 22nd meeting with Penn State holding a 11-10 advantage. Since Nebraska joined the Big Ten, the Huskers are 9-9 against the Nittany Lions (9-7 in regular season; 0-2 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. Penn State’s 76-64 win in Lincoln last year was its first since the 1995 NIT.

Last Meeting: Nebraska built an 11-point second-half lead and held on, as the Huskers escaped Penn State with a 62-61 win on Feb. 14.
Nebraska led 60-49 before the Nittany Lions scored 12 straight to take a 61-60 lead on Myreon Jones’ four-point play with 1:58 remaining. PSU led with just under 20 seconds left when Nebraska forced a turnover and Allen drove for the go-ahead hoop.

The Huskers, who held Penn State to 32 percent shooting, got the stop they needed on the final possession on a steal from Trey McGowens with 1.8 seconds remaining. The win snapped NU’s 26-game Big Ten losing streak and was the Huskers’ first road win since Jan. 14, 2019.

Allen led three Huskers in double figures with 14 points, while Kobe Webster and McGowens added 13 and 10 points, respectively, as Nebraska picked up its first win in University Park since 2013.

The Huskers took control by opening the second half on a 10-2 run, taking a 45-38 lead after five straight points from McGowens, who had eight of his 10 points in the surge. PSU eventually cut the margin to 54-49 on a Seth Lundy basket, but Nebraska rattled off six straight points to build a seemingly comfortable 60-49 cushion after Allen’s basket with 8:43 left.

Nebraska, which was shooting 56 percent at that point in the game, went ice cold, as Penn State clawed back. NU went over 8:30 without a basket, as the hosts inched closer before Jones’ four-point play gave PSU its first lead of the half.

LAST TIME OUT
Purdue used a 19-4 second-half run en route to a 75-58 win over Nebraska Saturday afternoon at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Nebraska led 49-46 after Teddy Allen’s jumper with 13:14 left, but Purdue took control over the next six minutes, as Sasha Stefanovic had eight of his 14 points off the bench, including a pair of 3-pointers in an 8-0 run which stretched the Purdue lead from six to 14 with 6:50 remaining.

The Huskers, who used a 16-4 run to erase an 11-point deficit in building a 44-42 lead with 17:43 left, made one last run, as Allen hit consecutive baskets to get Nebraska within 67-57 with 4:19 left, but Stefanovic hit a pair of 3-pointers to push the lead back out to 16 with 3:22 left.

Jaden Ivey paced the Boilermakers with 15 points, while Brandon Newman added 10 points and seven rebounds. NU limited Trevion Williams, who was averaging 16.4 points per game and had 28 against Michigan State, to just nine points on 4-of-8 shooting in 21 minutes.

Shamiel Stevenson led the Huskers (5-15, 1-12 Big Ten) with 10 points off the bench, as the Husker reserves combined for 37 points, their highest total of Big Ten play. Thorir Thorbjarnarson, Kobe Webster and Trey McGowens had nine points each, while Yvan Ouedraogo had seven points and a team-high eight rebounds.

STORYLINES
• Nebraska continues with its frantic February pace, as the Huskers will play 11 games between Feb. 6-28 following the rescheduling of games against Penn State, Illinois and Minnesota. The 2020-21 season will mark the fifth time in school history and the first since 1919-20, that NU will play double-digit games in February (based on dates listed in the media guide). Tuesday’s game begins a stretch of four games in eight days. Earlier this month, NU played seven games in 12 days, spanning five states and more than 4,300 miles highlighted by a pair of games at Maryland (Feb. 16-17).

• The 2020-21 season marks the second straight season NU has had a strength of schedule in the top 10 in KenPom. NU’s schedule was eighth in 2019-20.

• The Big Ten had nine teams in the top 40 of the NET rankings on Feb. 22, including four of the top eight spots. In all, four of the Huskers’ final six regular-season opponents are in the top 50 of the NET.

• One area where the Huskers have made significant improvement since returning to action is on the defensive end. NU has allowed 10.8 fewer points per game over the past eight games, while holding teams to 41 percent shooting, including 30 percent from 3-point range.

• Teddy Allen and his younger brother Timmy are one of the highest scoring duos in college basketball. The pair combines for nearly 34 points a game, a total which ranks second nationally among brother duos.

2020-21 Highest Scoring Brother Duos
No. Total Player-School (PPG)
1. 39.0 Julian Champagnie-St. John’s (20.2) and Justin Champagnie-Pitt (18.8)
2. 33.8 Teddy Allen-Nebraska (16.5) and Timmy Allen-Utah (17.3)
3. 28.8 Michael Weathers-Texas Southern (14.0) and Marcus Weathers, Duquesne (14.8)as of Feb. 22

• Nebraska’s two-game series against Maryland last week marked the first time NU faced the same opponent on consecutive days since 1976 (at Hawaii) and first time it happened in conference play since 1921 (Iowa State in the Missouri Valley Conference).

• Nebraska is one pace for one of its most prolific 3-point shooting seasons in school history. NU enters the Penn State with 7.95 3-pointers per game which is on pace to rank second in school history. It is not surprising that Nebraska has relied on its 3-point shooting in Hoiberg’s tenure, as his Iowa State teams led the Big 12 in 3-pointers in four of his five seasons at the school.

Most 3-Pointers/Game in School History
No. School Games 3-Pointers/Game
1. 2001-02 28 9.54
– 2019-20 20 7.95
2. 2019-20 32 7.90
3. 2006-07 31 7.87
4. 2018-19 36 7.50
• Teddy Allen is one of just eight newcomers at power conference schools averaging at least 16.0 points per game. Allen is currently sixth in the Big Ten in scoring and the only newcomer in the top 10 of the Big Ten in scoring as of Feb. 22. His scoring average is on pace to be one of the highest scoring averages by a first-year Husker.

Highest Scoring NU Newcomers
No. Player PPG Year
1. Terran Petteway 18.1 2013-14
2. James Palmer Jr. 17.2 2017-18
3. Andrew White III 16.6 2015-16
– Teddy Allen 16.5 2020-21
4. Joe McCray 15.5 2004-05
• The biggest beneficiary of Derrick Walker’s insertion into the Husker attack has been Lat Mayen, who moved to his natural stretch four spot after playing in the post for the first half of the season. In the nine games since Walker returned, Mayen is averaging 10.6 points per game on 44 percent shooting and 5.0 rebounds per game. In NU’s first four conference games, he averaged just 5.5 ppg on 31 percent shooting.

• With Trevor Lakes going over 1,000 career points on Wednesday, Trey McGowens is on track to become the second Husker this year to reach the 1,000-point plateau. He enters Tuesday’s game with Penn State with 965 points, needing only 33 points to reach 1,000 for his career.

• Seven members of the Nebraska basketball team were honored on Feb. 19 with spots on the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll. The Huskers on the list include Teddy Allen, Lat Mayen, Chris McGraw, Jace Piatkowski, Bret Porter, Thorir Thorbjarnarson, Derrick Walker and Kobe Webster. All Husker student-athletes combined for a school-record fall GPA of 3.325.

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