The Nebraska men’s basketball team returns to Pinnacle Bank Arena Saturday night, as the Huskers welcome the Indiana Hoosiers to town. Tipoff is slated for shortly after 6 p.m. and Saturday’s game is sold out, but any returned tickets would go on sale at the PBA box office beginning at 4:30 p.m.
The matchup will be carried nationally on BTN with Drew Carter and Stephen Bardo 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.
Nebraska (7-10, 2-4 Big Ten) look to snap a two-game losing streak after falling at No. 21 Ohio State, 80-68, on Tuesday evening. The Buckeyes shot 55 percent, including 10-of-22 from 3-point range, while holding the Huskers to 42.4 percent shooting.
Junior guard Thorir Thorbjarnarson led four Huskers in double figures with 15 points and six rebounds. The 6-foot-6 junior guard went 5-of-8 from 3-point range and is third in the Big Ten in 3-point percentage (.482) heading into the weekend. Thorbjarnarson, who averaged just 2.0 ppg as a sophomore, is averaging 7.8 points per game this season, including 12.0 ppg in conference action.
Sophomore Cam Mack has been the catalyst for the Husker attack, ranking third in the Big Ten in both assists (6.7 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5-to-1) while averaging 12.5 points per game. Mack has four double-doubles in his first six Big Ten contests, including the school’s first triple-double against Purdue, and paces the conference in both assists (8.5 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.6-to-1) in Big Ten action.
Indiana (13-4, 3-3 Big Ten) looks to bounce back after falling to Rutgers, 59-50, on Wednesday. Justin Smith led three Hoosiers with 15 points, while Joey Brunk and Aljami Durham added 10 markers apiece. Indiana was held to just 32 percent shooting, including 2-of-19 from 3-point range, and committed 16 turnovers which led to 18 Rutgers points.
Cam Mack ranks third nationally among all power conference players with a 3.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in conference play. Only five power conference players as of Jan. 16 have a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in league play.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
.482- Thorir Thorbjarnarson is third in the Big Ten in 3-point percentage entering Saturday’s game with Indiana. He is 27-of-56 from long range this season after going a combined 6-of-28 behind the 3-point stripe in his first two years.
+3.0 – Nebraska enters the weekend leading the Big Ten in turnover margin at +3.0 per game. NU has committed 12 or fewer turnovers in each of the last nine contests. NU leads the Big Ten by committing 11.1 turnovers per game.
4 – Double-figure assist games for Cam Mack, which is the most by a Husker since Brian Carr had five in the 1985-86 season. Mack’s four games with 10+ assists rank sixth nationally as of Jan. 17
6.3 – Rebounds per game for freshman Yvan 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 2004-05.
8 – Nebraska has had eight of its 10 eligible scholarship players reach double figures this season, a total which includes former walk-on Charlie Easley. The Huskers have three players currently averaging double figures.
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.
Archie Miller is in his third season at Indiana after guiding the Dayton program for six years, leading the Flyers to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Miller’s first Indiana team went 16-15, and the Hoosiers improved to 19-16 and reached the 2019 NIT quarterfinals before falling to Wichita State.
Indiana opened the year with 11 wins in its first 12 contests, with the only setback coming at Wisconsin on Dec. 7. The Hoosiers are 3-3 since the 96-90 OT win over the Huskers in Assembly Hall on Dec. 13, with wins over Notre Dame, Ohio State and Northwestern. Indiana is averaging 74.6 points per game and is seventh in the Big Ten in field goal percentage. The Hoosiers are third in the conference in rebounding at +8.6 per game and are one of the best teams in the country at getting to the free throw line. The Hoosiers average over 26 attempts per game to lead the Big Ten.
Indiana comes into Saturday’s game with four players averaging double figures. Freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis leads the Hoosiers in scoring (14.0), field goal percentage (.622), rebounding (7.9 rpg) and blocked shots (2.1 bpg). Justin Smith averages 12.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while Devonte Green (11.6 ppg) and Aljami Durham (10.7 ppg) also average double figures. Green, who typically comes off the bench, leads Indiana with 27 3-pointers and is shooting 38 percent, while Durham is at 36 percent from beyond the arc.
Series History: Nebraska and Indiana meet for the 21st time on Saturday night and the 12th since the Huskers joined the Big Ten in 2011-12. Indiana leads the all-time series, 13-7, but the Huskers are 6-5 against the Hoosiers since Nebraska joined the Big Ten, including wins in three of the past four meetings. Indiana has been ranked in five of the 11 previous matchups since NU joined the Big Ten. This is first time since the 2015-16 season that the teams will meet twice in a season.
Dachon Burke Jr. poured in a team-high 25 points, including a 3-pointer with two seconds left in regulation to force overtime, but Nebraska fell 96-90 at Indiana on Dec. 13. Four of five Nebraska starters scored in double figures. Hannif Cheatham contributed 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting. Thorir Thorbjarnarson had a career-high 17 points and was 3-of-5 from 3-point range. Cam Mack scored 15 points and dished out a team-high 10 assists. Yvan Ouedraogo chipped in nine points and led the Huskers on the glass, collecting 10 rebounds.
Overall, Nebraska shot 44 percent from the field, including 12-of-32 from behind the 3-point arc, while holding the Hoosiers to 5-of-25 shooting from long distance. The Hoosiers owned a 54 to 31 rebounding advantage, however, and rode freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis’ 25 points and 15 rebounds to the overtime victory. For the game, Indiana shot 47 percent from the field and attempted 20 more free throws than the Huskers, making 27-of-38 from the charity stripe.
LAST TIME OUT
The Nebraska men’s basketball team, playing its second road game in four days, could not overcome a strong shooting performance from No. 21 Ohio State Tuesday night, as the Huskers fell to the Buckeyes 80-68.
Ohio State shot 54.5 percent on the night, the highest percentage by a Husker opponent this season. The Buckeyes were 30-of-55 from the field, including 10-of-22 from the 3-point line. CJ Walker, who scored 14 second-half points, paced six Buckeyes in double figures with a game-high 18 points. Kaleb Wesson added a double-double for Ohio State with 13 points and 14 rebounds.
Nebraska, which topped the 60-point mark for the first time in seven trips to Value City Arena, fell to 7-10 overall with the loss and dropped to 2-4 in Big Ten play. The Huskers shot 42.4 percent from the field and were 9-of-22 from the 3-point line. NU knocked down eight threes and shot 54.8 percent in the second half.
It was a balanced scoring night for the Big Red, as six Huskers had at least nine points. Thorir Thorbjarnarson led Nebraska with 15 points – all of which came in the second half – while knocking down a career-high five 3-pointers. He also led NU with six rebounds. Jervay Green, Cam Mack and Yvan Ouedraogo each added 10 points for the Huskers, with Mack adding six assists. Dachon Burke Jr. and Haanif Cheatham scored nine points apiece.
• ESPN’s BPI has Nebraska with the third-hardest strength of schedule remaining as of Jan. 16. In fact, seven of the top 10 are from the Big Ten and all 14 conference teams are in the top 20.
• Nebraska is in a stretch where it will play 16 of its final 18 regular-season games against teams currently ranked in the top 50 of the NET. In all, 12 of the 14 Big Ten teams are ranked in the top 50 of the NET as of Jan. 16.
• Nebraska enters the Indiana game averaging 72.5 points per game, which is on pace to be Nebraska’s highest scoring average since the 1996-97 squad averaged 72.9 points per game.
• Nebraska has relied on its balance during the first half of the season. In its first 17 games, NU has put at least four players in double figures 12 times. The Huskers put five players in double figures three times, most recently against Iowa on Jan. 7. The Huskers currently have three players averaging double figures overall, and four in conference games.
• Despite being undersized and having just one player who had played in a Big Ten game entering the season, Nebraska’s play in Big Ten action is starting to resemble the team’s that Coach Hoiberg had at Iowa State, especially with ball movement and limiting turnovers. NU is first or second in six offensive categories entering the weekend, including assist-to-turnover ratio and 3-point shooting.
Big Strides in Conference Play
|Category||2019-20 (B1G)||2018-19 (B1G)||Times Leading Big 12 during Hoiberg’s tenure|
|3-Pt./GM||9.8 (1st)||6.8 (8th)||(3) 2011-12; 2012-13; 2014-15|
|3-Pt. Pct.||.345 (2nd)||.322 (9th)||(2) 2011-12; 2012-13|
|Asst/GM||16.8 (2nd)||11.7 (10th)||(2) 2013-14; 2014-15|
|Asst-to-TO Ratio||1.9-to-1 (1st)||1.2-to-1 (5th)||(2) 2013-14; 2014-15|
|Turnover Margin||+3.0 (2nd)||+2.0 (4th)||(0) None|
|Turnovers/Gm||8.8 (2nd)||9.6 (3rd)||(1) 2014-15|
Sophomore Cam Mackhas made an impact in his first season at Nebraska. He is 13th nationally with 6.7 assists per game, which is on pace to be the most by a Husker since the 1984-85 season, and ranks 30th nationally with his 2.53-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Mack’s assist-to-turnover ratio is on pace to be one of the best in school history.
Best Assist/Turnover Ratios (Since 1979)
|5.||2.52||Charles Richardson Jr.||179-71||2006-07|
min. 3.0 assists/gm
• Cam Mack is the only Husker in the last 30 years to have multiple points-assists double-doubles in the same season as he has four this season, including three in Big Ten play. From 1989-90 to the end of the 2018-19 season, it had happened just five times. Mack’s consecutive points-assists double-doubles against Indiana and Purdue were the first since Brian Carr in December of 1985 (vs. UC-Irvine and Creighton).
Husker Points/Assists Double-Doubles (Last 30 years)
|Cam Mack||15||10||vs. Iowa, 1/7/20|
|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|
It is not surprising that Nebraska has relied on its 3-point shooting, as Hoiberg’s Iowa State teams led the Big 12 in 3-pointers in four of his five seasons at the school. The Huskers, who are fourth in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting, are on pace to average 8.5 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
Nebraska enters Saturday’s game leading the Big Ten in turnover margin with +3.0 per game. The Huskers have forced an average of 14.1 turnovers per game to rank fourth in the Big Ten while averaging 11.1 turnovers per game to tie for first in the conference. 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.
• Freshman Yvan Ouedraogoleads the Huskers in rebounding at 6.3 per game, which would be highest season average by a Husker freshman in 15 years (Aleks Maric, 6.3 rpg in 2004-05). Ouedraogo’s 14 rebounds vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 29 were the most by a Husker freshman since 2004 (15, Maric vs. UAB) and tied for the third-highest total by a Husker freshman in the last 20 years.
• The Huskers have already played three overtime games in 2019-20, posting a 1-2 record. NU’s single-season record is four, set five times, most recently in 2007-08. As of Jan. 17, Nebraska has played in three of the Big Ten’s nine overtime games in 2019-20, including the first meeting with Indiana.
• Freshman guard Charlie Easley was put on scholarship for the spring semester. Easley has played in 13 games as a backup guard, including each of Nebraska’s six Big Ten contests. He played a career-high 16 minutes in the win over Iowa on Jan. 7.
• 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.
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 14th nationally in offensive tempo, as their average possession is 15.3 seconds per possession as of Jan. 16.
• The only power conference schools that plays at a faster pace are St. John’s (10th) and Alabama (12th).
• In his five full 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.
MACK DELIVERS AS HUSKERS’ LEAD GUARD
Junior college transfer Cam Mack was the cornerstone of the Huskers’ recruiting class, and has lived up to the billing during the first half of the year. Mack was the No. 3 JUCO recruit in the country last year at Salt Lake CC and has made an impact in his first season at Nebraska. Mack, who was listed as the top JC point guard recruit in the country, enters the Indiana contest averaging 12.5 points per game while leading the Huskers in assists (6.7) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5-to-1).
• Mack is is tied for the national lead with four games with at least 10 points and 10 assists. In fact, only eight players in Division I have at least three double-doubles with points and assists this season as of Jan. 16.
• He ranks 13th nationally in assists per game and is the highest Division I newcomer in the NCAA rankings. In fact, only two newcomers nationally average over 6.0 assists per game as of Jan. 16.
• Mack has four double-doubles in six Big Ten games and leads the Big Ten in both assists (8.5 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.6-to-1) in conference games only.
• Mack is one of four Big Ten players – joining Cassius Winston (Michigan State), CJ Walker (Ohio State) and Geo Baker (Rutgers) to rank in the top 10 of the Big Ten in both assists and steals as of Jan. 16.
• His 6.7 assists per game is on pace to rank second in school history, trailing only Brian Carr, who averaged 7.9 assists per game in 1984-85.
• 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.
• He’s reached double figures 14 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.
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. After a slow start, Cheatham has been one of NU’s most consistent offensive threats. Over the last 13 games, he is 14.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, while typically guarding the opponent’s top scoring threat.
• Cheatham has reached double figures in 11 of the Huskers’ last 13 games, including a 21-point, six-rebound performance at Indiana on Dec. 13. He had six straight double-figure efforts from Nov. 25-Dec. 13, the second-longest streak of his collegiate
career. In the two games he didn’t reach double figures, he had nine points.
• He went over 1,000 career points with a 17-point performance against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 29.
• 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.
THOR EMERGES AS SCORING THREAT
Over the last six weeks, junior Thorir Thorbjarnarson emerged as a vital part of the Huskers’ offensive attack. The 6-foot-6 guard is fifth on the team in scoring at 7.8 ppg, while shooting 50 percent from the field and 48 percent from 3-point range.
• He has been in double figures six times in NU’s last 10 games after not reaching double figures in his first 41 contests as a Husker. Since Dec. 4, he has tied or set a career high in points four times.
• Thorbjarnarson is third in the Big Ten in 3-point percentage (.482) after shooting just 21.4 percent from 3-point range in his first two seasons. His 3-point mark would be the highest since Brian Conklin shot a school-record 55.7 percent in 2003-04.
• He nearly had a double-double in the win over Iowa, finishing with 17 points, including three 3-pointers, and a season-high nine rebounds. He tied his season high originally set at Indiana on Dec. 13.
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 11.7 points, 4.0 rebounds per game and 1.4 steals per game. He is third in the Big Ten in steals and paces the Huskers in blocked shots (13) and is third in both scoring and 3-pointers (21).
Burke has reached double figures nine times, including a 25-point effort against Indiana on Dec. 13 and a 21-point performance against South Florida on Nov. 27.
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 and has been a mainstay of the Husker lineup.
• He is one of the youngest players in the country, as he won’t turn 18 until after the 2020 Big Ten Tournament.
• Ouedraogo has started all 17 games for the Huskers, averaging 6.1 points and a team-high 6.3 rebounds per game in just over 21 minutes per game.
• He is on track to be the third freshman to lead NU in rebounding in a season, joining Aleks Maric (2005-06) and John Turek (2001-02).
• Ouedraogo has played some of his best basketball recently, averaging 7.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game over the Huskers’ last eight contests dating back to Dec. 13. He has grabbed seven or more rebounds five times in that stretch.
• He reached double figures for the third time this season in the loss at Ohio State, finishing with 10 points and five boards.
• He picked up his first career double-double against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 29 with 11 points and 14 rebounds. His double-double was the first by a Husker freshman since Shavon Shields in 2013 and Ouedraogo became just the 10th NU freshman to ever record a double-double.
• His 10 rebounds against Indiana marked the second-highest rebounding total for a Husker freshman in his first conference game, trailing only Dave Hoppen in 1983.
• He enjoyed his best 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.
• 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 played for the French U-18 squad at the 2019 European Championships in July, as France went 6-1 and finished fifth in the competition.
CROSS LIFTS BENCH PRODUCTION
Freshman Kevin Cross has been a key contributor for the Huskers. The 6-foot-8 freshman from Little Rock, Ark., has been the first Husker off the bench in all 16 games and is averaging 7.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.
• Cross is sixth among Big Ten true freshmen in scoring and fourth in rebounding as of Jan. 12.
• He has improved his rebounding in recent weeks, averaging 5.1 rebounds per game over the Huskers’ last eight contests dating back to Dec. 13. He has grabbed five-or-more rebounds 10 times this season.
• Cross has been in double figures five times off the bench, including a season-high 19 points against Southern Utah, which is the most by a Husker freshman since the 2016-17 season. Cross became the first freshman in 73 games to pace the Huskers in scoring with his 19-point game against Southern Utah on Nov. 9. That 19-point effort was the highest by a Husker rookie since Shavon Shields in 2013.
• Against Iowa, Cross had eight of his 11 points in the second half and added five rebounds.
• Cross hit a season-high three 3-pointers as part of his nine-point, five-rebound effort against Northwestern.
• 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.
KAVAS IS ONE OF NATION’S TOP SHOOTERS
Senior transfer Matej Kavas comes to Nebraska with a reputation as one of the nation’s top 3-point shooters. The 6-foot-8 guard is a career 43 percent shooter from 3-point range, and shot 40 percent or better in all three of his seasons at Seattle. Kavas’ .431 career percentage ranks 13th among active Division I players as of Jan. 16.
• To put Kavas’ shooting in perspective, Nebraska’s career mark for career 3-point percentage is .432 by Brian Conklin (2001-04) and only five players in school history have shot 40 percent in their Husker career with a minimum of 100 3-pointers.
• Kavas had his best performance of the year against North Dakota on Dec. 21, hitting 4-of-5 3-pointers. It was the 18th time in his career he had 4-or-more 3-pointers in a game. Kavas had nine points off the bench last Saturday’s loss at Northwestern.
• As a sophomore at Seattle, Kavas led the WAC in both 3-point percentage (.464) and 3-pointers per game (2.8).
• Kavas’ 195 career 3-pointers would ranks third on NU’s career list while his 91 3-pointers as a sophomore would top NU’s single-season mark (Cary Cochran, 89, 2001-02).