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Huskers host North Dakota at PBA on Saturday

Huskers host North Dakota at PBA on Saturday
(Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications)

Following final exams, the Nebraska men’s basketball team is back in action Saturday afternoon, as the Huskers welcome North Dakota to Pinnacle Bank Arena. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. and a limited number of tickets are available for purchase by visiting Huskers.com/Tickets, calling 800-8-BIGRED during business hours or at the Pinnacle Bank Arena box office beginning 90 minutes prior to tipoff.

The Kids Zone on the North Concourse will open 90 minutes prior to tipoff and kids will be able to get their picture taken with Santa Claus until 4:45 p.m.

Game 12: Nebraska vs. North Dakota
Date: Sat, Dec. 21
Time: 5:01 p.m. (CT)
Location: Lincoln, Neb.
Arena: Pinnacle Bank Arena

NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS
2019-20 Record: 5-6 (1-1 Big Ten)
Head coach: Fred Hoiberg
Record at Nebraska: 5-6 (1st year)
Career NCAA Record: 120-62 (6th year)

NORTH DAKOTA FIGHTING HAWKS
2019-20 Record: 5-7
Head coach: Paul Sather
Record at North Dakota: 5-7 (1st year)
Career Record: 293-158 (15th year)

BROADCAST INFO
Television: None
Online Broadcast: BTN+ (subscription required)
Play-by-play: Dustyn Stortzum
Analyst: Buzzy Caruthers
Radio: Learfield-IMG Husker Sports Network, including 590 AM (Omaha), 1400 AM (Lincoln) and 880 AM (Lexington)
Play-by-play: Kent Pavelka
Analyst: Jake Muhleisen
Online Radio: Available on Huskers.com, Huskers App, TuneIn.com/Huskers and TuneIn App.
SiriusXM (Internet): 974

The NU-UND game will not be televised, but carried online on BTN+ (subscription required) with Dustyn Stortzum and Buzzy Caruthers on the call. This is the final BTN+ broadcast for the 2019-20 season and information and sign up info is available at btnplus.com.

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.

Nebraska (5-6) comes off its best performance of the season, a 70-56 win over Purdue last Sunday. The Huskers  were led by Cam Mack’s triple-double (11 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists), the first in Nebraska men’s basketball history, as

Nebraska’s 70 points were the most Purdue allowed this season. Dachon Burke Jr. led NU with a game-high 18 point and grabbed a season-high seven rebounds while Thorir Throbjarnarson added 13 points in the win. Mack’s performance overshadowed an outstanding defensive effort, as NU held Purdue to season lows in both points (54) and field goal percentage (.304).

North Dakota (5-7) snapped a three-game losing streak on Tuesday with a 109-50 victory over Northland.  In that game, Billy Brown’s 17 points led six players in double figures, as UND shot 64 percent from the field and made 13-of-33 3-pointers. The Fighting Hawks, under the direction of first-year coach Paul Sather, has been challenged by a non-conference schedule which included games at Gonzaga and at Minnesota. Former Creighton guard Marlon Stewart leads four UND players in double figures at 14.5 ppg.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT
Cam Mack is one of nine players in Division I – and two in the Big Ten –  with three double-figure assists performances in 2019-20. Mack is 13th nationally with 6.6 assists per game through the Huskers’ first 11 contests.

NUMBERS TO KNOW
2.05-to-1 – Nebraska’s assist-to-turnover ratio in the last two games, as the Huskers tied or set season bests in assists in each of the last two games. Against Purdue, NU had 22 assists on 26 baskets.

.500 – Thorir Thorbjarnarson is tied for third in the Big Ten in 3-point percentage entering the weekend. He is 15-of-30 from long range this season after going a combined 6-of-28 behind the 3-point stripe in his first two years.

8 – Nebraska has had eight of its nine eligible scholarship players reach double figures this season. The Huskers have four players currently averaging double figures.

21.5 – Points per game by Dachon Burke Jr. over the last two games, as he is connecting on 55 percent from the field and averaging 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game in that span.

5.5 – Rebounds per game for freshman Ivan Ouedraogo, which is fourth among all Big Ten freshmen. His rebounds per game is on track to be the highest by a Husker freshman since Aleks Maric grabbed 6.3 rebounds per game in 2005-06.

50- Returning point total from last season, all by Thorir Thorbjarnarson. That is the lowest by any power conference team since the 2009-10 season.

SCOUTING NORTH DAKOTA
North Dakota comes to Lincoln with a 5-7 mark after posting a 59-point win over Northland on Tuesday evening. First-year coach Paul Sather is no stranger to the region, as he spent the past nine seasons at Northern State, guiding that program to a trio of NCAA Division II Tournaments and a runner-up finish in 2018. His teams won the Northern Sun Conference title in each of the past two seasons. In his final two seasons at NSU, the team was a combined 62-11.

He inherited a roster which returned three starters and 11 letterwinners from last season. The group is led by senior guard Marlon Stewart, who began his collegiate career at Creighton. He averaged 14.3 points per game as a junior and is one of four double-figure scorers at 14.5 points per game. Sophomore forward Filip Rebraca has been a force inside, as he averages 14.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. He had 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting and 13 rebounds against Gonzaga and reached double-figured in UND’s first 11 games, including six double-doubles. The Fighting Hawks are averaging 77.3 points per game, including 8.2 3-pointers per contest.

Series History: Nebraska leads the all-time series, 3-1, in a series that dates back to 1933. NU is 3-0 against UND in Lincoln, including a 92-70 win on Nov. 19, 2017. In that game, Isaac Copeland had a career-high 30 points, going 12-of-14 from the field, as Nebraska shot 53 percent from the field and put four players in double figures.

LAST TIME OUT
Cam Mack made Husker history with a triple-double and helped propel Nebraska past Purdue, 70-56, at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Dec. 15

Mack had 11 points and 10 rebounds to go with a career-high 12 assists to become the first Husker in history to net a triple-double and help three Huskers (5-6, 1-1 Big Ten) in double figures and snap Purdue’s two-game win streak.
Dachon Burke Jr. was the leading scorer for Nebraska, netting 18 points to go with a season-high seven boards. Thorir Thorbjarnarson also hit double figures with 13 points. Haanif Cheatham just missed double-digits scoring, throwing in nine points, as Nebraska’s 70 points matched most points Purdue has given up this season.

The Huskers also limited Purdue (6-4, 1-1 Big Ten) to 30 percent shooting, including 6-of-35 from 3-point range. More importantly, the Huskers were out-rebounded only 49-45 against a team that was among the Big Ten leaders in rebounding margin. Purdue cut Nebraska’s 15-point lead to 52-50 with 8:13 left, but Nebraska ran off six straight points to extended the lead back to eight, as the Husker defense limited Purdue to just 3-of-16 shooting over the final eight minutes.

DID YOU KNOW
• Thorir Thorbjarnarson is the only Husker who has faced North Dakota, as he played the final two minutes and missed his only shot in the Huskers’ 2017 win over the Fighting Hawks.

• In its last two games, Nebraska has put up the most points allowed by both Indiana (90) and Purdue (70).

• The Huskers have already played three overtime games in the first 11 games of 2018-19, posting a 1-2 record. NU’s single-season record is four, set five times, most recently in 2007-08. As of Dec. 17, Nebraska has played in three of the Big Ten’s seven overtime games, while the Huskers’ three overtime games is third nationally and leads all power conference teams.

• Despite the longer 3-point line this season, Nebraska’s two returnees are shooting significantly better from beyond the arc than at any point of their career. Burke is 14th in the Big Ten in 3-pointers per game, while Thorbjarnarson is third in the conference in 3-point percentage as of Dec. 18.

Huskers’ 3-Point Improvement

Player Career 3-Pct.
Entering 2019-20
3/GM 19-20 3Pt Pct. 3/GM
Burke .333 0.89 .396 1.72
Thorbjarnarson .214 0.17 .500 1.36

• One of the biggest points of emphasis for Hoiberg and his staff has been to shoot better from 3-point range, and that work has paid off over the past month. Over the last eight games dating back to Nov. 22, NU is shooting 38 percent from 3-point range and averaging 9.4 3-pointers per game after shooting just 23 percent in the first three games of the season.

Huskers’ 3-Point Improvement

Category Before Nov. 22 Since Nov. 22
Games 3 8
3 Pt. Pct. .231 .379
3-Pointers/Gm 6.0 9.4
Att./Gm 26.0 24.8

• With four players averaging double figures, Nebraska has relied on its balance. In its first 12 games, NU has put at least four players in double figures nine times. The Huskers put five players in double figures against Washington State on Nov. 25 and at Creighton on Dec. 7.

• It is not surprising that Nebraska has relied on its 3-point shooting early on, as Hoiberg’s Iowa State teams led the Big 12 in 3-pointers in four of his five seasons at the school. The Huskers are on pace to average 8.2 3-pointers per game, a total which would rank second in school history and be the most since the 2001-02 campaign.

Most 3-Pointers/Game in School History

No. School Games 3-Pointers/Game
1. 2001-02 28 9.54
2019-20 11 8.45
2. 2006-07 31 7.87
3. 2018-19 36 7.50

• Nebraska has 10 double-figure scoring runs this season following a pair of 12-0 runs against Purdue last Sunday. NU has had at least one double-digit run in four of the last five games. Purdue had allowed only one double-figure run all season before last Sunday.

• Nebraska enters Saturday’s game fourth in the Big Ten in turnover margin at +2.4 per game. The Huskers have forced an average of 14.5 turnovers per game to rank third in the Big Ten while averaging 12.1 turnovers per game. During his tenure at Iowa State, Hoiberg’s teams ranked in the top three in the Big 12 in fewest turnovers per game in four of his five seasons at the school.

• The Huskers have averaged 77 points per game since the opening night loss to UC Riverside, including three games of at least 90 points. NU had 90+ points in consecutive games against South Dakota State (90) and Southern (93), the first time the Huskers have scored 90 or more points in consecutive games since the 1999-2000 season.

• Nebraska’s 14 first-year players on the roster matches TCU for the most in the nation in research done by the Utah SID John Vu. Only four teams (TCU-14, Nebraska-14, East Carolina-13 and Utah-12) have at least 12 newcomers on their 2019-20 rosters. Nebraska returns a national-low 1.9 percent of its scoring from last season and the 50 returning points is the lowest by any power conference team since 2009 according to noted statistician Ken Pomeroy.

Fewest Returning PPG from 2018-19

No. School Returning PPG Pct. of Scoring
1 Nebraska 2.0 PPG 1.9%
2. Tulane 10.8 PPG 12.2%
3. South Dakota St. 15.8 PPG 16.9%
4. Virginia Tech 13.3 PPG 18.1%
5. Washington 13.9 PPG 19.8%

Courtesy: Virginia Tech SID office

• Cam Mack is the only Husker in the last 30 years to have multiple points-assist double-doubles in the same season as he had one against Southern Utah on Nov. 9 and at Indiana on Dec. 13.  In fact, it is only the seventh time in the last 30 years that a Husker has had a points-assists double-double.

Husker Points/Assists Double-Doubles (Last 30 years)

No. Pts. Asst. Opponent
Cam Mack 11 12 vs. Purdue, 12/13/19
Cam Mack 15 10 at Indiana, 12/13/19
Cam Mack 13 11 vs. Southern Utah, 11/11/19
Glynn Watson Jr. 10 10 vs. Cal State Fullerton, 12/20/18
Lance Jeter 10 10 vs. Kansas, 2/5/11
Lance Jeter 12 12 at Kansas State, 2/7/10
Sek Henry 11 11 at TCU, 11/21/09
Tom Wald 11 11 vs. Appalachian State, 12/31/94

THE CHASE FOR 1,000
Despite having only 50 points returning from last season, a pair of Huskers are quickly closing in on 1,000 career points at the collegiate level.

Senior Haanif Cheatham enters the North Dakota contest with 985 points during his career and is 15 points away from 1,000 for his career. Cheatham, who previously played at Marquette and Florida Gulf Coast, is averaging 13.0 points and setting personal bests in both rebounding (4.9 rpg) and field goal percentage (.535).

Junior guard Dachon Burke Jr. comes into Saturday’s game with 964 points following his 18-point effort against Purdue. Counting his two seasons at Robert Morris, he needs 36 points to reach that plateau. Burke averaged 21.5 ppg over the last two games, including a 25-point night at Indiana on Dec. 13. He is averaging a team-best 13.7 points per game and shooing 43 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range.

They will join Matej Kavas, who went over 1,000 career points on Nov. 22. Kavas now has 1,033 career points between his time at Seattle and Nebraska.

SETTING A FAST PACE
Not only are the Huskers adjusting to a whole new roster, but playing at a significantly faster pace than in previous years. The Huskers are 18th nationally in offensive tempo, as their average possession is 15.2 seconds per possession through the Purdue game.

• In his five seasons as a college coach, Hoiberg’s teams have ranked in the top 20 in offensive tempo four times, including top-10 rankings in both 2014 and 2015.

• Hoiberg’s first Iowa State team in 2010-11 jumped from 67th to 20th nationally in offensive pace and ranked in the top 40 nationally in adjusted tempo in four of his five seasons in Ames, including top-15 nationally in his last two campaigns.

• In the KenPom era (1997-present), only one Husker team has ranked among the top 100 nationally in adjusted tempo – the 1999-2000 Huskers under Danny Nee. The Huskers’ quickest offensive tempo in the last decade was in 2017-18 when the Huskers were 140th in offensive tempo.

JUCO STANDOUTS MACK AND GREEN STEP INTO LINEUP
Two of the cornerstones of the Huskers’ recruiting class were junior college transfers Cam Mack and Jervay Green. Mack (third) and Green (eighth) were both ranked in the top 10 nationally by JUCORecruiting.com in the 2019 recruiting class and have played a crucial role for the Huskers early in 2019-20.

Mack, who was listed as the top JC point guard recruit in the country, enters the North Dakota game averaging 12.5 points per game while leading the Huskers in assists (6.6), steals (1.5) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.4-to-1).

No. Name School 10+ Asst.
1. Cameron Parker Sacred Heart 4
Jason Preston Ohio 4
Josh Sharkey Samford 4
Zavier Simpson Michigan 4
5. Cam Mack Nebraska 3
Javon Levi UT-RGV 3
Kyle Lofton St. Bonaventure 3
Nico Mannion Arizona 3
Charlie Moore DePaul 3

• Mack is the only Big Ten player ranking in the top five in both assists (third) and steals (second). In fact, only three players – Mack, Maryland’s Anthony Cowan and Ohio State’s CJ Walker – rank in the top-10 in both categories.

• His 6.6 assists per game is on pace to rank third in school history, trailing only Brian Carr, who averaged 7.9 assists per game in 1984-85 and 6.7 assists per game in 1985-86.

• He recorded the first triple-double in program history against Purdue on Dec. 15 with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists, setting season bests in both rebounds and assists in NU’s 70-54 win.

• Mack is one of only 14 players nationally – and two in the Big Ten –  to have multiple points-assists double-doubles this season. He is tied with Zavier Simpson of Michigan for second nationally.  He also had 13 points and 11 assists against Southern Utah on Nov. 9 and 15 points and 10 assists at Indiana on Dec. 13.

• He’s reached double figures nine times, including a season-high 24-point performance against South Dakota State on Nov. 15.

• Last season at Salt Lake CC, Mack averaged 19.1 points, 7.6 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game, ranking fifth nationally in assists per game. He totaled nine double-doubles and three triple doubles as a freshman and dished out 10-or-more assists nine times.

Green was rated as the No. 2 combo guard nationally after a stint at Western Nebraska CC, has been a jack-of-all-trades for the Big Red, averaging 10.3 points along with 4.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. He ranks on the top three on the squad in rebounding, assists, steals (1.1 spg), blocks (0.6 bpg) and 3-pointers (15). Green was suspended indefinitely on Dec. 13, and has not played in Nebraska’s last two games.

• He has been in double figure five times, including 10 points and six rebounds at Creighton on Dec. 7.

• He nearly posted a double-double against Washington State with 16 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes.

• Green turned in his best performance of the year against Southern on Nov. 22, scoring 22 points and dishing out six assists in the win overtime win. His two 3-pointers helped key a 10-0 spurt in overtime to seal the win.

• He nearly had a double-double against Southern Utah with 18 points and a team-high eight rebounds, as he sent the game into overtime with a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

• Green garnered NJCAA All-America honors at WNCC in 2019, averaging 23.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. He was eighth nationally in scoring and had six 30-point games, including a school-record 51-point outburst.

CHEATHAM MAKES IMPACT ON BOTH ENDS
Fifth-year senior Haanif Cheatham has been one of the leaders for a young Husker team. The guard from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is NU’s most experienced player, as he played in 80 games between Marquette and Florida Gulf Coast before coming to Nebraska for his final year. Cheatham has played some of the best basketball of his career over the last month. Over Nebraska’s last seven games, he’s averaging 16.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, while typically guarding the opponent’s top scoring threat.

• Cheatham had 21 points and six rebounds at Indiana on Dec. 13, marking his sixth straight double-figure effort. It matches the second-longest streak of double-figure efforts in his career, as he had an eight-game stretch spanning his freshman and sophomore seasons at Marquette. He saw the string end against Purdue on Sunday, finishing with six points and a season-high four assists.

• Cheatham posted his first career double-double with 14 points and a career-high 11 rebounds at Georgia Tech on Dec. 4.

• He was in double figures all three games of the Cayman Islands Classic, averaging 19.0 ppg including a career-best 26-point effort against South Florida to garner all-tournament honors.

A former top-100 recruit out of high school, he was named Marquette’s top defensive performer in each of his two full seasons at Marquette.

BURKE SHOWS SCORING TOUCH
The other returnee from the 2018-19 season, Dachon Burke Jr. waited in the wings after transferring from Robert Morris. A 6-foot-4 guard, Burke has quickly shown the skills to flourish in Fred Hoiberg‘s attack, averaging 13.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Burke has reached double figures seven times, including a 25-point effort against Indiana on Dec. 13 and a 21-point performance against South Florida on Nov. 27. Burke leads the Huskers in 3-pointers (19) and is shooting nearly 40 percent from 3-point range.  He comes off a strong performance with 17 points and a season-high seven rebounds against Purdue.

Two years ago, Burke was one of the best players in the Northeast Conference, averaging 17.6 points per game while adding 5.8 rebounds and a conference-best 2.1 steals per contest.

OUEDRAOGO ADDS NAME TO SHORT LIST OF TRUE FROSH
Freshman Yvan Ouedraogo became the first true freshman to start a season opener at Nebraska since 2013 when he started against UC Riverside on Nov. 5.

• He is one of the youngest players in the country, as he won’t turn 18 until after the 2020 Big Ten Tournament.

• He is just the 11th true freshman and 13th freshman overall to start a season opener in the last 25 years at Nebraska, joining a group which includes 1,000-point scorers Tai Webster, Ryan Anderson, Cookie Belcher and Tyronn Lue.

• Ouedraogo has started all 11 games for the Huskers, averaging 5.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in just under 20 minutes per game.

• His 10 rebounds against Indiana marked the second-highest rebounding total for a Husker freshman in his firs conference game, trailing only Dave Hoppen in 1983.

• He could become just the third freshman to lead NU in rebounding in a season, joining Aleks Maric (2005-06) and John Turek (2001-02).

• Ouedraogo has grabbed five or more rebounds in four of the Huskers’ last five games dating back to Nov. 27.

• He enjoyed his offensive effort of the season with 11 points, including six in overtime, and four rebounds against Southern on Nov. 22. He snared a team-high 12 rebounds against South Dakota State on Nov. 15.
Ouedraogo played for the French U-18 squad at the 2019 European Championships in July, averaging 4.0 points, 3.6 rebounds per game as France went 6-1 and finished fifth in the competition.

CROSS LIFTS BENCH PRODUCTION
Freshman Kevin Cross has been an early contributor for the Huskers. The 6-foot-8 freshman from Little Rock, Ark., has been the first Husker off the bench in all 11 games and ranks sixth on the team in scoring at 7.1 points per game while chipping in 4.1 rebounds per game.

• Cross has been in double figures four times off the bench, including a season-high 19 points against Southern Utah. He became the first freshman in 73 games to pace the Huskers in scoring, while his 19-point effort was the highest by a Husker rookie since Shavon Shields in 2013.

• He grabbed seven rebounds in both of Nebraska’s first two Big Ten games, the fifth and sixth time he grabbed at least five rebounds in a game.

• He played a complete game in the win over Washington State, scoring 14 points, grabbing a season-high eight rebounds and blocking two shots in 27 minutes

• Cross played a big role in NU’s comeback against Southern, scoring all eight of his points in the second half as the Huskers overcame an eight-point deficit.

• He was efficient against South Dakota State, finishing with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting and two blocked shots.

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